Canadian Parliamentary Review

Current Issue
Canadian Region CPA
Upcoming Issue
Editorial and Stylistic Guidelines

HomeContact UsFrançais

Parliamentary Book ShelfParliamentary Book Shelf
Louis Brillant

Répertoire des parlementaires québecois 18671978, Québec, Le Service de documentation politique de la Bibliothèque de la législature, 1980, 796 p.

This directory contains biographies of all members of the Quebec Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly since Confederation up to 1968 as well as all members of the National Assembly from 1968 to the by-elections of April 30, 1979. Claude Ryan makes it just under the wire. It does not contain the names of Quebecers appointed to the Senate, elected to the House or Commons or to any other legislative assembly in other provinces or countries unless first elected in Quebec. This Répertoire des palementaires québecois does not include the names of Louis, St. Laurent, Pierre-Elliott Trudeau. Jean Marchand. Jean-François Pouliot. Jean-Luc Pépin, Réal Caouette. Steuart Smith etc. Perhaps the term parlementaire québecois could have been more precisely defined in the introduction.

The book is made up of biographies containing the following elements: basic information (name, place and date of birth, name and profession of parents), marital status (date and place of marriage or marriages and name of in-laws); information on professional, industrial or business careers. an outline of political and parliamentary careers at all levels of government (municipal, provincial, and federal); university studies; honours (decorations, medals, social and cultural associations); the date and place of death and burial; and finally relatives who were parliamentarians or public figures.

In a few cases information is lacking completely such as the absence of birth or death dates for R.G. Meikle and L.H. Gosselin. In other instances information has not been verified to the editor's satisfaction and he uses brackets as a simple method of indicating such cases. Some references are vague, particularly those pertaining to professional or university careers.

Research for the book was done according to the following method as explained in the introduction. For each member they started from parliamentary records and information found in them. The editorial team then searched through a wide variety of biographical dictionaries, local histories, obituaries and newspapers. If contradictions were found they were checked against primary sources such as official publications, and archival material. The family or descendents of members were contacted, particularly the person most familiar with family history. For deceased members certificates of birth or baptism, marriage and death were obtained. The book includes, at the end of each biography, a partial list of the sources or collaborators involved.

Even short biographies (such as Gosselin's with 66 words or Meikle's with 91 words) manage to convey essential information. The longer ones, like those of Laurier and Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, take more than two columns. Yet all are concise without digression into anecdote, commentary or character analysis. One has only to look at the entries for René Lévesque, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain and others to grasp this point. For even the most notable parliamentarians there is no attempt to outline their political thought or evaluate their role in political life. Of Luc Letellier de Saint-Just it merely says he dismissed the Conservative government of Boucher de Boucherville on February 25, 1878 then was relieved of his post as Lieutenant Governor on July 25, 1879. Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis is given one column consisting mainly of dates and facts without embellishment or commentary of any kind. For Jean Lesage there is not even a mention of the "Quiet Revolution".

In certain cases sentences or phrases can say a lot without under mining the objective framework of the work. Thus we learn Armand Lavergne was expelled from the Liberal Party by Wilfrid Laurier in 1907; Pierre Laporte was kidnapped by the FLQ on October 9, 1970 and his body was found in St Hubert eight days later. Gérard Martineau was called before the Salvas Commission and found guilty; Camilien Houde was interned from 1940 to 1944 for his opposition to conscription.

The Repertoire is limited in its objectives to the presentation of strictly factual material and as a result it is a difficult book to review. Nevertheless, one method is to compare it to the Canadian Directory of Parliament 1867-1967 published by the Public Archives of Canada. A quick comparison reveals not only that information in the Répertoire is more complete but one quickly notices a number of errors in the Directory. About 160 parliamentarians are found in both books and the latter contains so many mistaken birth dates, forgotten second marriages, incorrect names of' wives, dates and place of death, that one is led to conclude the Directory, is in need of revision. (To be fair, however, it must be conceded that the Directory was a pioneer work containing more than twice the number of entries. It was mainly concerned with information regarding careers in Parliament, political affiliations and constituencies represented. It continues to be a useful reference source in these areas.)

The Répertoire includes a number of interesting appendices including lists of general elections, by-elections, legislatures and sessions, Lieutenant-Governors, Speakers, Prime Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition, Presidents of the Legislative Council, Members of the Legislative Council, Members of the Executive Council (Cabinet) and candidates elected and defeated in all Quebec elections up to 1979.

In publishing the Répertoire the Library of the National Assembly has made a significant contribution to political and parliamentary documentation in Canada. The editor-in-chief, André

Lavoie, and his team are to be congratulated.

Louis Brillant

Information and Reference Branch

Library of Parliament


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 3 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-03-03