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Jean Lesage elected premier of Quebec

The Story

It's 1960 and Quebec is at the dawn of the Quiet Revolution. A progressive, urban, democratic and modern Quebec is quickly overtaking the old Quebec, characterized as conservative, patronage-oriented, rural and under the thumb of the Roman Catholic Church, reports CBC Television. Jean Lesage and his Liberal party pick up on the winds of change as they take on Premier Antonio Barrett and the ruling Union Nationale party. "It's time for a change" is the Liberal slogan. The Union Nationale tries desperately to fight the legacy of corruption and political immorality left behind by its former leader Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis ruled Quebec with an iron fist until his death in September 1959. Lesage's Liberals urge Quebecers to send a strong message to the "Union Scandale," Lesage's nickname for the Union Nationale. The bitterly fought election, riddled with name-calling, defamation suits and bribery, ends in a historic victory for the Liberal party. On June 22, 1960, the Liberals inch past the Union Nationale, nabbing 51 seats over the UN's 43.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: June 19, 1960
Reporter: Norman DePoe
Duration: 8:41

Did You know?

• The Union Nationale party was formed in 1935. It was the result of a marriage between the Conservative Party of Quebec led by Maurice Duplessis and Paul Gouin's Action Libérale Nationale.

• Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale won every Quebec election from 1936 to 1959, except the one in 1939.

• The Duplessis period is known as "the dark ages" in Quebec history. His regime was infamous for corruption and incestuous ties with the Roman Catholic Church and big business. Duplessis was the master of vote-fixing. Legend has it that Union Nationale troops would arrive in rural towns armed with whiskey, food and appliances in exchange for votes.
• The 1960 election is seen as the beginning of the Quiet Revolution, the birth of modern Quebec.


Quebec Elections, 1960-2007 more