Canadian Social Credit Movement - Quebec

Quebec

The movement also caught on in Quebec in part because of the work of Louis Even who translated social credit literature into French, wrote his own articles on the subject and published and circulated periodicals to promote social credit theories. He and Gilberte Côté-Mercier founded a lay Christian group called the "Pilgrims of Saint Michael", based in Rougemont, Quebec, that promotes social credit monetary policy coupled with conservative Catholicism. The Pilgrims publish The Michael Journal in English and Vers Demain in French. The group is nicknamed "the White Berets" for the headgear worn by members.

Even and Côté-Mercier also founded the Union des électeurs in 1939 as a provincial party based on social credit theories and recruited Réal Caouette to the movement. Even and Armand Turpin ran federally as New Democracy candidates in the 1940 federal election, but none was elected. The movement was able to win a post World War II by-election under the Union des électeurs label, with Caouette being sent to the Canadian House of Commons. The Union broke with the Social Credit Party of Canada in 1947 over Ernest Manning's rejection of more orthodox social credit economic theory and his purge of anti-Semites from the social credit movement. The Union held more orthodox views in line with C.H. Douglas's original economic and political philosophy including a rejection of party politics in the belief that it should be replaced by a non-partisan "union of electors" in which elected officials would implement the popular will.

Caouette ran for re-election as a union des electeurs candidate and lost his seat in the 1949 federal election. Caouette continued to run in elections unsuccessfully through the 1950s over the objections of Even and Côté-Mercier and split with them on May 4, 1958 to form Ralliement des créditistes as the Quebec wing of the Social Credit Party of Canada with himself as leader. It achieved a major breakthrough in the 1962 federal election, and remained in the House of Commons under various names until 1980.

Social Credit was never able to form a provincial government in Quebec due to the near dominance of social conservative votes by the Union Nationale party from the 1930s into the 1960s. The Social Credit Party, however, soon became a major contender in Quebec for seats to the federal Parliament in the 1960s. Although BC and Alberta would elect a few Social Credit Members of Parliament (MPs) in that decade, it would be Quebec that maintained the party's national presence after 1962. Social Credit remained dominant in the other two provinces in provincial elections.

In the 1962 election, Social Credit won 26 of 75 seats in Quebec, beating the Progressive Conservative Party. They continued to finish in second place in terms of federal seats from Quebec until their last MPs fell with the minority government of Joe Clark in 1980. The most Social Credit ever captured in terms of the Quebec popular vote was 27.3% federally, and 11.2% provincially.

The Quebec wing of the movement broke from the rest of the party in 1963 to form its own Quebec-only federal Social Credit party, the Ralliement des créditistes. As a social conservative party, the party generally attracted voters who supported of the Union Nationale in provincial elections.

The party formed a provincial wing in 1970, the Ralliement créditiste du Québec, which benefited as the UN declined after the death of Premier Daniel Johnson in 1968.

The growth of Quebec separatism stymied the rise of the provincial Créditistes. Although Parti Québécois is a social democratic party, it drew nationalist voters away from the Créditistes.

In the 1970 provincial election, the Liberals took 72 seats, followed by the Union Nationale with 17, and Ralliement créditiste du Québec with 12. The party was riven by internal dissent for the remainder of its history, capturing two seats in the 1973 election, and only one in the 1976 election, the last time a créditiste was elected to the Quebec National Assembly.

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