Under Prime Minister Mackenzie KING, Lapointe was minister of marine and fisheries (1921-24), minister of justice (1924-30, 1935-41) and, more importantly, was recognized as King's Québec lieutenant and his most influential adviser.
Lapointe, ErnestErnest Lapointe, politician (b at St-Éloi, Qué 6 Oct 1876; d at Montréal 26 Nov 1941). Educated at Rimouski College and Laval, he was called to the bar in 1898 and practised law in Rivière-du-Loup and Québec City. He was elected Liberal MP for Kamouraska in 1904. In 1919 he shifted to Québec East, the former riding of Sir Wilfrid LAURIER, which he represented until his death. Lapointe was a little-noticed backbencher in his early years, but the burly, slow-moving member learned English and gradually won respect for his sound judgement and unswerving loyalty to the party. In Laurier's last years he was the most prominent among the younger French Canadian members, and led the debate on the controversial ONTARIO SCHOOLS QUESTION.
Under Prime Minister Mackenzie KING, Lapointe was minister of marine and fisheries (1921-24), minister of justice (1924-30, 1935-41) and, more importantly, was recognized as King's Québec lieutenant and his most influential adviser. He shared King's commitment to Canadian autonomy, accompanied him to the Imperial Conference of 1926 and chaired the Canadian delegation in the discussions that led to the STATUTE OF WESTMINSTER in 1931. In domestic affairs he was identified with the low-tariff wing of the Liberal Party and with provincial autonomy. As minister of justice he disallowed some of ABERHART's Social Credit legislation in Alberta because of its encroachment on the federal sphere. He did not disallow DUPLESSIS'sPADLOCK ACT, despite its threat to civil liberties, because he believed DISALLOWANCE would strengthen Duplessis's political position in Québec.
In 1939 Lapointe's prestige, coupled with his guarantee that there would be no CONSCRIPTION for overseas service, was instrumental in winning French Canadian support for Canadian participation in WWII. His intervention in the Québec provincial elections of November 1939 contributed to Duplessis's defeat and the election of a more co-operative Liberal government under GODBOUT. Under Lapointe's leadership, Québec was a federal Liberal stronghold, a pattern that survived long after his death in 1941.