Quebec general election, 1944

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The Quebec general election of 1944 was held on August 8, 1944 to elect members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Quebec, Canada. The Union Nationale , led by former premier Maurice Duplessis, defeated the incumbent Quebec Liberal Party, led by Adélard Godbout. This was the first Quebec provincial election in which women were allowed to vote, having been granted suffrage at the provincial level in 1940 and at the federal level in 1919.

National Assembly of Quebec single house of the Legislature of Quebec

The National Assembly of Quebec is the legislative body of the province of Quebec in Canada. Legislators are called MNAs. The Queen in Right of Quebec, represented by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec and the National Assembly compose the Legislature of Quebec, which operates in a fashion similar to those of other Westminster-style parliamentary systems.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.

Union Nationale (Quebec) former political party in Quebec, Canada

The Union Nationale was a conservative and nationalist provincial political party in Quebec, Canada, that identified with Québécois autonomism. It was created during the Great Depression and held power in Quebec from 1936 to 1939, and from 1944 to 1960 and from 1966 to 1970. The party was founded by Maurice Duplessis, who led it until his death in 1959.


This election marked Duplessis's comeback after having defeated Godbout in the 1936 election and having lost to him in the 1939 election. Unlike in the 1939 election, when the alcoholic Duplessis was clearly drunk at numerous campaign rallies, le chef had benefited from the time he had spent in an American sanatorium in 1942-43, where he had sobered up, and in the 1944 election, Duplessis refrained from drinking. Duplessis won the election by appealing to anti-Semitic prejudices in Quebec by making the false claim in a violently anti-Semitic speech that the Dominion government together with the Godbout government had made a secret deal with the "International Zionist Brotherhood" to settle 100,000 Jewish refugees left homeless by the Holocaust in Quebec after the war in exchange for Jewish campaign contributions to both the federal and provincial Liberal parties. [1] By contrast, Duplessis claimed that he was not taking any money from the Jews, and if he were elected Premier, he would stop this plan to bring Jewish refugees to Quebec. To further push on the message, the Union Nationale handed out campaign pamphlets warning about the alleged plan to bring 100,000 Jewish refugees to Quebec, which featured a cartoon of the standard stereotype of an evil-looking, hook-nosed Jew handing bags of money to Godbout while in the background a vast horde of dirty, disreputable-looking, hook-nosed Jewish refugees were ready to descend on la belle province. [2] Through Duplessis's story about the plan to settle 100,000 Jewish refugees in Quebec was entirely false, his story was widely believed in Quebec, and ensured he won the election. [3] Duplessis's biographer Conrad Black argued that Duplessis was in no way personally anti-Semitic at all, just that the majority of Quebecois were at the time, and given the extent of rampant antisemitism in Quebec that Duplessis had merely used antisemitism as the best way to win the 1944 election. [4] Black maintained that Duplessis was never antisemitic, and all of his antisemitic statements in the 1944 election was just pandering to the voters, instead of expressions of Duplessis's real feelings about Jews. [5] Duplessis won another three elections in a row, for a total of five terms of office (four consecutive), before dying in office in 1959.

Conrad Black Canadian-born newspaper publisher

Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, KCSG is a Canadian-born British former newspaper publisher, author. In 2007, Black was convicted on four counts of fraud in U.S. District Court in Chicago. While two of the criminal fraud charges were dropped on appeal, a conviction for felony fraud and obstruction of justice were upheld in 2010 and he was re-sentenced to 42 months in prison and a fine of $125,000.

In this wartime election, Godbout's support for Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in the Conscription Crisis of 1944 may have contributed to his defeat.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

William Lyon Mackenzie King 10th Prime Minister of Canada

William Lyon Mackenzie King, also commonly known as Mackenzie King, was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s. He served as the tenth prime minister of Canada in 1921–1926, 1926–1930 and 1935–1948. He is best known for his leadership of Canada throughout the Second World War (1939–1945) when he mobilized Canadian money, supplies and volunteers to support Britain while boosting the economy and maintaining morale on the home front. A Liberal with 21 years and 154 days in office, he was the longest-serving prime minister in Canadian history. Trained in law and social work, he was keenly interested in the human condition, and played a major role in laying the foundations of the Canadian welfare state.

The Conscription Crisis of 1944 was a political and military crisis following the introduction of forced military service for men in Canada during World War II. It was similar to the Conscription Crisis of 1917, but was not as politically damaging.

The Bloc Populaire won four seats on an anti-conscription platform. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (predecessor of the New Democratic Party) won one seat. Party member David Côté was elected to the legislature, but in July 1945, he decided to sit as an independent.

The Parti social démocratique du Québec was the Quebec wing of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. It was founded in 1939 as the Fédération du Commonwealth Coopératif and was led by Romuald-Joseph Lamoureux in the 1944 general election, by Thérèse Casgrain from 1951 to 1957 and by Michel Chartrand from 1957 to 1960. The name Parti social démocratique was adopted in 1955.

New Democratic Party of Quebec

The New Democratic Party of Quebec is a federalist and social-democratic provincial political party in Quebec, Canada. The party is a revival of the comparable Nouveau Parti Démocratique du Québec, which existed in various forms as the federal New Democratic Party (NDP)'s provincial affiliate in Quebec from 1963 to 1991. The current party, however, is not affiliated with the federal NDP. The modern party was registered on 30 January 2014.

David Côté was a Canadian politician active in the provincial politics of Quebec. Côté was the only member of the Fédération du Commonwealth Coopératif ever elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec.


PartyParty leader# of
SeatsPopular Vote
1939 Elected% Change#%% Change
Union Nationale Maurice Duplessis 90 15 48 +220%   38.02% -1.1%
Liberal Adélard Godbout 91 70 37 -47.1%  39.35% -14.7%
Bloc populaire André Laurendeau 80 * 4 *   14.40% *
  Co-operative Commonwealth Romuald-Joseph Lamoureux [6] 25 0 1 *   2.56% *
    Other47 1 1    5.67% +3.3%
Total 86 91 +5.8%  100%  


* Information on party's actions in previous election not available.


  1. Knowles, Valerie Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006, Toronto: Dundun Press, 2007 page 149.
  2. Abella, Irving & Troper, Harold None is too many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948, Toronto: L & O Denny, 1986 page 162.
  3. Knowles, Valerie Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2006, Toronto: Dundun Press, 2007 page 149.
  4. Black, Conrad Duplesisis, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977 page 719
  5. Black, Conrad Duplesisis, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977 page 719
  6. Maurice Duplessis reprend le pouvoir, Les Archives de Radio-Canada, August 8, 1944

See also

The politics of Quebec are centred on a provincial government resembling that of the other Canadian provinces, namely a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The capital of Quebec is Quebec City, where the Lieutenant Governor, Premier, the legislature, and cabinet reside.

Timeline of Quebec history

This article presents a detailed timeline of Quebec history. Events taking place outside Quebec, for example in English Canada, the United States, Britain or France, may be included when they are considered to have had a significant impact on Quebec's history.

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