M995.24.1 | Paul Gouin
1933, 20th century
60.9 x 45.5 cm
Gift from M. Luc d'Iberville-Moreau
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , male (26812) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
The Liberal credentials of Paul Gouin (1898-1976) were impeccable. His father and maternal grandfather had been Liberal premiers of Quebec. However, in 1934 Gouin broke with Liberal Premier L.-A. Taschereau (1867-1952) to found the Action libérale nationale (ALN).
"The present crisis," the ALN program began, "is in large part due to poor distribution in the economic realm, to the greediness of big business, and to abuses of all kinds that have crept into the practical application of political democracy."(Le Devoir) Rejecting Taschereau's laissez-faire liberalism (the economic theory and practice of non-interference by government in the ways that markets function), the ALN called for government-initiated reforms in such areas as agriculture, labour relations, industry and commerce, and the financial world.
The ALN formed an alliance with the Conservative party, led by Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959), and in the 1935 provincial election the Union nationale (UN) scored major gains. Gouin soon became disenchanted with Duplessis, though, and left the UN. The UN drove the scandal-weakened Liberals from office in Quebec in 1936.
The ALN reappeared as a distinct movement not long after the UN victory, and Gouin became its leader in July 1938.
Gouin was elected to the Legislature in the riding of L'Assomption in 1935. He did not run in 1936, but became an ALN candidate in Montreal-Mercier in 1939. He was defeated.
In 1942, Gouin became a co-founder of the Bloc populaire, formed in protest against the possibility that conscription for overseas military service might be introduced in Canada.
Gouin's father, Sir Lomer Gouin (1861-1929), was premier of Quebec from 1905 to 1920. His maternal grandfather, Honoré Mercier (1840-1894), was premier from 1887 to 1891.