Maurice Duplessis

Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis was born on April 20, 1890 in Trois-Rivieres. He studied at the Seminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivieres. He obtained a law degree from Universite Laval.

He was admitted to the Barreau du Quebec in 1913, and he practiced law in Trois-Rivieres for a dozen of years.

Duplessis was elected to the Quebec House of Assembly for the first time in 1927. He became the leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec in 1933.

Two years later, his party joined forces with Action liberale nationale to form the Union Nationale party. This party was successful at the polls in 1936.

Since then Maurice Duplessis won every elections in Quebec until 1959, except for that of 1939. In fact, in his first administration, Duplessis was a great disappointment for the people as abandoned his electoral platform after the election. In this period, his only real achievement was the issuance of the controversial Padlock law in 1937.

Later, this famous Prime Minister of Quebec became the most important proponent of provincial autonomy. He made this issue the corner stone of his success. Maurice Duplessis was elected to five terms of office in all. Among his most famous autonomist moves were the rejection of fiscal arrangements in the post-war period, the refusal of federal grants to universities, the establishment of the Tremblay Commission on constitutional problems, the creation of a provincial income tax scheme and more.

Duplessis opposed military conscription and Canadian involvement in World War II. On January 21, 1948, Duplessis adopted the official Flag of Quebec, the fleurdelyse, which replaced the Union Flag at the top of the Quebec Parliament Building. These autonomist measures were coupled with a conservative stand in social and economic affairs.

Many see his rule as the period of Dark years. The situation led eventually to massive frustrations and the Quiet Revolution after his death. However, such harsh judgments have been nuanced by the more recent research on Duplessis. Maurice Duplessis died in office on September 7, 1959 in Schefferville (North of Quebec Region).

At the same time, Duplessis became known for dealing harshly with striking unions, and for disdaining some of the concepts of civil liberties.

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