Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Honoré Mercier (October 15, 1840, Saint-Athanase, Quebec - October 30, 1894), was Liberal Premier of Quebec from January 27, 1887, to December 21, 1891. He studied at the Jesuit College Sainte-Marie in Montreal and was admitted to the bar of the province in April 1865.
In 1871 he founded the Parti National and was elected to the House of Commons in 1872. He became the leader of the Parti libéral du Québec in 1883. He strongly opposed the execution of Louis Riel in 1885; this event helped him win popular support, and the Quebec Conservative Party lost support because their federal government counterparts had ordered Riel's execution.
Seizing the opportunity to build a coalition with dissident Conservatives, Mercier revived the Parti National name for the 1886 Quebec election and won a majority of seats. However, the coalition consisted of mostly Liberals and only a few Conservatives, so the "Liberal" name was soon reinstituted. The Conservatives, reduced to a minority in the Legislative Assembly, clung to power for a few more months, but Mercier became Premier of Quebec in 1887.
He initiated the idea of interprovincial conferences in 1887 and became the first Quebec premier to defend the principle of provincial autonomy within the confederation, campaiging to abolish the federal government's claimed right to veto provincial legislation (a couple of years after his death, the British Privy Council did so).
With his strong nationalist stance, Mercier was very much a precursor of later nationalist Premiers in future decades who confronted the federal government and tried to win more power for Quebec. In this, he was somewhat ahead of his time. He promoted contacts with francophones in other parts of North America outside of Quebec including Western Canada and New England; at that point in history those francophones had not yet been assimilated to the extent they would be in the future. Mercier promoted reform, economic development, Catholicism, and the French language and won popularity but also made enemies. He was re-elected in the 1890 Quebec election with an increased majority.
On December 16, 1891, he was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Auguste-Réal Angers after a report concluded that his government had diverted public funds. He lost the 1892 Quebec election and gave up the party leadership to Félix-Gabriel Marchand. He was brought to trial later that year and found not guilty when a second report concluded differently on the matter. However, his health had greatly deteriorated and his political career was over. He died in 1894 at the age of 54 and was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec.
Elections as party leader
- National Assembly biography (in French)
|List of Quebec premiers||Succeeded by:
Charles-Eugène Boucher de Boucherville
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