Georges-Émile
Lapalme

Birth

14 January 1907 in Montréal

Death

05 February 1985 in Montréal

Party leader

20 May 1950 to 31 May 1958

A well-known intellectual, Lapalme led the reflection that paved the way to the Quiet Revolution. In the summer of 1959, the former Liberal party chief still was not fully aware of the work he was editing. As it turned out his policy not only became the electoral program for the renowned Lesage Ēquipe du Tonnerre, it also proved to be the canvas for a modern Quebec.  Thus, Georges-Ēmile Lapalme is not only considered the Father of the modern Liberal party in Quebec, but also the architect of the Quiet Revolution. 

Born in Montreal in 1907, he was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1929 and followed his career as an attorney in Joliette until 1939. Councillor for the Barreau des Laurentides, he was founder of the Joliette Journal in 1947.

As a result of a growing celebrity and attracted to active politics, Georges-Ēmile Lapalme was first elected federal deputy for Joliette-L’Assomption-Montcalm riding in 1945. If this victory was perceived as a defeat of the Union Nationale who supported the Conservative running against him, his re-election in 1949 removed all doubt of a triumph of the ideology of Liberalism during the fabled “Grande Noirceur.”

Lapalme began to see himself as a future leader of the Quebec Liberals, and fanned the flames of Liberalism from his editorial pulpit with the creation of a riding association in Joliette and the Joliette-Journal, which relayed his editorials through the provincial media. 

Elected leader of the Quebec Liberals in May, 1950, Lapalme sought to create a party that would be a bastion of democracy open to the open exchange of ideas and a permanent base for the diffusion of the Liberal ideology. Using the organizational model established among his supporters in the riding of Joliette, Lapalme proceeded with an in-depth reform of the Liberty party.

In 1950, he settled down to the elaboration and  dissemination of a program based on social justice. A great democrat, he created the Fédération libérale du Québec (FLQ) with a view to relaying ideas from the base of the party toward its executive. 

Elected MNA in Montreal-Outremont in a 1953 by-election, he would serve as Leader of the Official Opposition until the election of Jean Lesage as Premier in 1960.

The Premier appointed him as Attorney-General from 1960 to 1963, and he served as Vice-Premier from 1960 to 1964. He was also the first Minister to hold the post in Cultural Affairs (1961-64) Among his accomplishments are included the creation of the Office de la langue française and the establishment of official relations between Quebec and France , Quebec’s first foray into international relations.

He died on February 5, 1985 at the age of 78.