Archive | The beginnings of the nationalization of electricity in Quebec in 1944

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Archives | The beginnings of the nationalization of electricity in Quebec in 1944

Private electricity company plaque on a building.

On April 14, 1944, the Liberal government of Adélard Godbout created the Quebec Hydroelectric Commission, abbreviated to Hydro-Québec. This is a first step towards the nationalization of electricity, which will be completed with the famous operation “Masters among us”.

Did you know that the nationalization of electricity had first been a promise of Maurice Duplessis, leader of the Union Nationale? Today program of February 12, 1968.

Journalists Michelle Tisseyre and Bernard Derome provide the political history of Hydro-Québec.

They thus mark the fifth anniversary of the complete nationalization of electricity by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage.

The idea of ​​nationalizing electricity dates back to the 1930s.

It was originally formulated by Dr. Philippe Hamel, outraged that natural resources were exploited by private interests.

Before nationalization< /strong>

  • 11 large companies share the electricity market in Quebec: Shawinigan Water and Power, Quebec Power, Southern Canada Power, Saint-Maurice Power, Gatineau Power, Compagnie de Pouvoir du Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Saguenay Electric Company, Northern Quebec Power, the Mont-Laurier Electric Company, the Ferme-Neuve Electric Company and the La Sarre Power Company.

During the 1936 election campaign, Maurice Duplessis brought Dr. Philippe Hamel and his project into the Union Nationale team.

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Presented in the form of a questionnaire, “The Voters' Catechism” served as a propaganda tool against the liberal regime of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau.

In The Voters' Catechism, they sharply denounce the electricity trust and undertake to nationalize this industry.

Once elected, he will do nothing, or very little.

It was not until the Liberals took power in 1939 that a first step was taken in this direction.

On April 14, 1944, the government Godbout passes the Act establishing the Quebec Hydroelectric Commission.

This law nationalized two private companies in the Montreal region: Montreal Light and Power and Beauharnois Power.

Adélard Godbout's Liberal government was at the end of its mandate and wanted to please to his nationalist electorate.

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An “electricity week” was introduced under the government of Maurice Duplessis.

“Electricity is a factor of progress and comfort. The province of Quebec has been particularly favored by Providence and in this area of ​​hydroelectric resources.

— Prime Minister Maurice Duplessis

Maurice Duplessis returned to power in 1944.

During his four subsequent mandates, Maurice Duplessis and the Union Nationale became more involved in the nationalization of electricity.

It was during this period that we developed high-voltage transmission means that will make it possible to exploit energy sources, particularly in rural regions of Quebec.

The Manicouagan, Bersimis and Outardes power stations are taking shape under the reign of Maurice Duplessis.

Despite this, in 1960, Hydro-Québec was only responsible for 32.4% of electricity production in the province.

A dozen private companies share the largest share.

Companies whose service is unequal, whose prices can be exorbitant, who innovate little and, above all, companies within which few French Canadians get higher jobs.

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In 1960, the private companies Gatineau Power, Shawinigan and Aluminum shared more than half of electricity production in Quebec.

The Liberal Party of Quebec regained power on June 22, 1960.

The candidate in Laurier, René Lévesque was elected and promptly appointed Minister of Water Resources.

Among the Liberals, the plan to completely nationalize electricity gained ground. Prime Minister Jean Lesage sought financial support from the United States.

On August 30, 1962, the Lesage government adopted the principle of nationalizing electricity.

Then, in the fall of 1962, he called an early general election on this issue.

The electoral campaign will be tough and very lively.

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