BirthJanuary 14, 1907 in Montréal
DeathFebruary 05, 1985 in Montréal
Party LeaderMay 20, 1950 to May 31, 1958
A renowned intellectual, Georges-Émile Lapalme led the debate that paved the way for the Quiet Revolution. In summer 1959, the former Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party had not yet known that the work he was drafting, Pour une politique, would go on to become not only the Liberals’ electoral program for the dream team led by Lesage, but also the fabric of modern-day Quebec. Lapalme is quite rightly considered the father of both the modern Quebec Liberal Party and the Quiet Revolution.
Born in Montréal in 1907, he was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1929 and practised in Joliette until 1939. Bencher of the Laurentian Bar Society in 1946, he founded the Joliette Journal in 1947.
By virtue of his growing reputation and as he was drawn to active politics, Lapalme was first elected as a federal Liberal MP for Joliette–L’Assomption–Montcalm in 1945. If his first victory came across as a defeat of the Union Nationale, which supported the conservative candidate, his 1949 re-election was deemed as win for the Liberal ideology during the Grande Noirceur.
Lapalme was thereafter slated as the future Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, especially given that he actively fuelled the Liberal flame by creating a riding association and the Joliette Journal, the articles of which were occasionally reprinted by the provincial press.
Elected Leader of the QLP in May 1950, he wished to make the party a democratic space that would be open to debate and a permanent wellspring from which Liberal ideology could spread. He would radically reform the Liberal Party by building upon a political organization model with devoted members deployed in his riding of Joliette.
By 1950, he would tackle the development and dissemination of a program focusing on social justice. A great democrat, he created the Quebec Liberal Federation (QLF) in order to transmit ideas from the base to the upper echelons of the party.
Lapalme was elected as MLA for Montréal-Outremont in 1953 and was Leader of the Official Opposition until the election of Jean Lesage as Premier of Quebec in 1960.
The Premier appointed him Attorney General from 1960 to 1963 and Deputy Premier from 1960 to 1964. Lapalme also held the first position of Minister of Cultural Affairs from 1961 to 1964. Among his accomplishments are the creation of the Office de la langue française and the establishment of relations between Quebec and France, the province’s first steps abroad.
He died in Montréal on February 5, 1985, at the age of 78.