Carrément, une première (presque)

Fun fact: If the NDP take a plurality of the vote in Quebec this election, as some recent polls indicate they would, Jack Layton would be, with one, somewhat arguable exception*, the first non-francophone party leader to defeat a francophone leader in any federal election in the province’s history.

Up until Sir Wilfrid Laurier, all federal elections were contests between anglophone leaders. Though Sir John A. Macdonald defeated Laurier in 1891, the Liberals took Quebec, beginning the party’s near-century long domination of federal politics in the province. Laurier held Quebec, narrowly, in his 1911 loss to Sir Robert Borden, and by a resounding 3-1 margin in the conscription election of 1917.

Francophones Louis St Laurent and Pierre Trudeau also held the province, effortlessly, though their anglophone successors were not so lucky. John Diefenbaker’s sweep of the province in 1958 was at the expense of Lester Pearson, while Brian Mulroney’s 1984 victory was over John Turner (besides, Mulroney was the more francophone of the two).

Jean Chretien failed to carry the province in 1993, 1997, and 2000 (though he did win the popular vote in 2000), but lost to francophones, first Lucien Bouchard and then Gilles Duceppe — who went on to win in 2004, 2006, and 2008.

Of course, in one way Layton’s victory, if it came, would confirm the rule: though less francophone than Duceppe, he is easily the most francophone of the four national party leaders, and the only one born in Quebec.

*The exception: The Ralliement Créditiste, under leader Réal Caouette, in 1965, took only 9 seats, to 56 for Lester Pearson’s Liberals. The Créditistes were born of the breakup of the Social Credit party two years earlier. They contested one more election before rejoining Social Credit in 1971, with Caouette as national leader.




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Carrément, une première (presque)

  1. Hi Andrew:

    The Diefenbaker breakthrough in Quebec in 1958 was almost entirely due to the Union Nationale machine. This gets little to no credit anywhere as Maurice Duplessis is a person that most would like to forget.

    • Maurice Duplessis is a person that most would like to forget.

      Perhaps. But he's also a person that 100 Tory candidates are emulating, with their unsubtle campaign materials about the benefits of being on the "government side". Ils se souviennent.

  2. How embarrassing would this be for Separatists and Liberals? Whatever happens this could make this election all worthwhile by simply reducing the seats the Bloc have. The Stop Harper campaign that moves to the NDP from Liberals is a bonus. I wonder how supportive Ignatieff would be with Layton holding the hammer in any agreement? I suspect opportunist Liberals would rather cross to Conservatives to form a majority if it was possilbe to reach one.

  3. How many had moustaches?

    • Only the dastardly ones.

  4. Dunno about that, Andrew. Cornélius le Premier of Granby, leader of the federal Rhinoceros Party (1965-93), sounds kind of francophone, no? Was Brian Mulroney more or less francophone than C-le-P?

  5. "The exception: The Ralliement Créditiste, under leader Réal Caouette, in 1965, took only 9 seats, to 56 for Lester Pearson's Liberals. The Créditistes were born of the breakup of the Social Credit party two years earlier. They contested one more election before rejoining Social Credit in 1971, with Caouette as national leader."

    You think the average Canadian voter cares for any of this stuff?

    Really, come on, Andrew, how out of touch are you with the average voter?

    • I find it interesting.

    • It's a Canadian politics blogs by a Canadian political reporter, for pity's sake. Seriously, what's your damage?

      Try this, maybe it'll make you happier: http://icanhascheezburger.com/

      • Kitties!!!!

        • I love 'em, truthfully. :)

    • Nobody gives a flying fig if you find it interesting, FV. Go find an average votre out and buy him a beer., And forget the Heineken, they apparently don't like imported.

  6. "though less francophone than Duceppe, he is easily the most francophone of the four national party leaders, and the only one born in Quebec."
    surely this should be "… the most francophone of the three national party leaders…" ?

      • I really appreciated your principled and vehement support on Twitter for Green Party inclusion during the debates debate, btw.

        (Oh god, I'm "really appreciating" things on Twitter, what's happened to me?)

  7. What about the Bloc Populaire in the 40's, led by Maxime Raymond? They only won about 12% of the vote and 2 seats in 1945, while King swept the province – despite conscription.

    • I'm going to rule that out: they only ran 35 candidates, so there's no way they could have won the province.

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