BirthSeptember 24, 1892 in Saint-Éloi
DeathSeptember 18, 1956 in Montréal
Party LeaderJune 11, 1936 to July 22, 1949
PremierNovember 08, 1939 to August 30, 1944
Born in Saint-Éloi on September 24, 1892, Adélard Godbout was an agronomist and instructor at the Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière School of Agriculture from 1918 to 1930. An ardent defender of farmer’s interests and of the importance of agricultural training, his contribution was recognized when the main building of the Institut de technologie alimentaire (ITA), La Pocatière campus, was renamed the Adélard-Godbout Pavilion in 2009.
He became a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly for L’Islet in 1929.
Thanks to his deep convictions and extraordinary persistence, he helped Quebec enter the modern age on several fronts. Godbout granted women the right to vote in 1940, despite strong opposition from conservatives. He also stood up against the flagrant abuse of consumers and economic development by Montreal Light, Heat & Power, the Montréal electrical network. By nationalizing the powerful company whose business practices had caused considerable discontent for decades, Godbout effectively put electricity at the service of the people and of progress.
He created the Quebec Hydroelectric Commission on April 14, 1944, in order to manage Montreal Light, Heat & Power’s four hydroelectric stations, thereby giving rise to Hydro-Québec, a jewel among Quebec’s assets. In fact, with this unprecedented act, Godbout initiated the most important step in a long march that would allow Quebec to position itself among the world’s leading producers of clean energy. Furthermore, the establishment of free education, along with mandatory school attendance until age 16, and the adoption of a new labour code recognizing the right to form unions demonstrated the significant role his government would play at the start of the Quiet Revolution.
Though the events of the 20th century proved him right with regard to supporting our European allies with military force in World War II, the Quebec electorate would not forgive his defence of the conscription recommended by the federal government and voted in by the rest of the Canadian population. Defeated in 1948 following this brave, yet unpopular, decision, Adélard Godbout resigned from his position as Leader of the Liberal Party.
He died in Montréal on September 18, 1956 at the age of 63.