Taschereau, Louis-Alexandre

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, lawyer, liberal politician, premier of Québec July 1920-June 1936 (b at Québec C 5 Mar 1867; d there 6 July 1952), son and father of Supreme Court justices. The bête noire of Québec nationalists, he welcomed the surge of American investment in the 1920s and resisted calls for social and economic reform in the 1930s.

Destined to continue his family's brilliant legal tradition, Taschereau rose slowly and somewhat unexpectedly to the premiership. He believed that industrial development in Québec was critical and that it could be achieved only with the help of outside capital and expertise. In his early years as premier, he was accused of anticlericalism for attempting reforms in education and social service, and of sacrificing agriculture to industry for rapid development of Québec's natural resources. As premier, Taschereau championed provincial autonomy but defended Sir Wilfrid LAURIER's moderate approach to the problem of Canadian unity, condemning both the tactics of Henri BOURASSA and the intolerance of English Canadian nationalists.

His downfall came with the Depression. Though he worked to protect major industries and municipalities from bankruptcy, his refusal to establish permanent social-security measures or nationalize hydroelectric power created the impression that he was "a tool of the trusts," an image reinforced by his links with major financial institutions. In 1934 young rebels in his own party formed the ACTION LIBÉRALE NATIONALE and, in alliance with the Conservatives, nearly defeated him in 1935. The next year Taschereau was further humiliated and driven from office by scandalous revelations about his brother and several high government officials.

See also QUÉBEC HISTORY SINCE CONFEDERATION.