Gaétan Nadeau

New Democratic Party of Quebec Hochelaga—Maisonneuve 1988 Canadian federal election
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Gaétan Nadeau (born December 12, 1953) is a politician and author in the Canadian province of Quebec. He led the New Democratic Party of Quebec from April to September 1989 and helped bring about its autonomy from the New Democratic Party of Canada.

Early life and political career before 1989

Nadeau was born in Joliette in 1953.[1] He was a Parti Québécois (PQ) activist before joining the New Democratic Party and served as an executive assistant to legislator Guy Chevrette.[2] He was also a supporter of the municipal Montreal Citizens' Movement (MCM) and served on its economy committee. In 1988, he criticized the party's pro-business direction in government.[3]

He ran for the House of Commons of Canada as the New Democratic Party candidate for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve in the 1988 federal election. He criticized the proposed Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement on the grounds that it would hurt manufacturing jobs in his riding. Nadeau was considered one of the party's strongest candidates in Quebec, and some party insiders believed he had a chance for an upset victory.[4] In the event, he finished third against Progressive Conservative candidate Allan Koury.

Shortly before election day, Nadeau and six other NDP candidates with Quebec nationalist views held a press conference to denounce Canada's policies on bilingualism.[5]

New Democratic Party leader

Nadeau was elected to lead the Quebec New Democratic Party in April 1989, defeating incumbent leader Roland Morin. The election contest was centred on the Quebec NDP's relationship with the federal party. At the time, the NDP had a single party organization in Quebec that was responsible for both federal and provincial matters. Several members of the Quebec NDP opposed its links to the federal party, particularly in light of ideological divisions on issues relating to Quebec nationalism. The Quebec party supported the province's Charter of the French Language, opposed the Meech Lake Accord, and were sceptical toward the Canadian constitution because it was approved without Quebec's support.[6] Nadeau favoured the creation of a separate provincial party, while Morin initially opposed it before declaring his neutrality.[7]

Nadeau, who was thirty-five years old at the time, also highlighted the generational divide between himself and the fifty-seven-year-old Morin. He said, "The leadership choice is clearly between a democratic socialist who has a vision for the '90s and one who is clinging to the outdated notions of the '70s." For his part, Morin described Nadeau as a single-issue candidate focused only on the environment.[8] Nadeau defeated Morin at a party convention held on April 30, 1989, as the party also voted to separate from the federal organization and become a completely distinct entity.[9]

The NDP ran fifty-five candidates in the 1989 election.[10] Its campaign began in confusion, when the party executive approved an election platform that Nadeau derided as "naive Marxism." He initially threatened to resign as party leader, but refrained when the executive agreed to withdraw the offending document. Nadeau later described the platform as having resulted from the "fertile imagination" of a single party worker who misunderstood the instructions of its policy committee.[11]

Nadeau secured a more prominent place for environmental issues in the party's revised platform, but he could not prevent party activists from adding a focus on Quebec nationalism. Nadeau opposed this on strategic grounds, arguing that it would not help the party build support.[12] Others argued that it prevented the party from winning support among anglophone Liberals who were disgruntled with the nationalist policies of premier Robert Bourassa.[13]

Close to election day, Nadeau acknowledged that his party would not win any seats in the legislature.[14] The NDP received about one per cent of the popular vote, and Nadeau received only 437 votes for a distant fourth-place finish in the Montreal division of Dorion. He resigned as party leader on September 26, 1989, one day after the election, saying that the Quebec NDP would never be able to succeed because of a "hard core of Marxists" hindering its development.[15]

Since 1989

Nadeau was a researcher for the municipal Democratic Coalition party in the early 1990s.[16]

Electoral record

1989 Quebec general election: Dorion
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Violette Trépanier 11,632 51.00
Parti Québécois Joseph Facal 9,425 41.33
Green Agnès Grimaud 878 3.85
  New Democratic Gaétan Nadeau 437 1.92
Lemon Pierre Corbeil 297 1.30
Marxist–Leninist Francine Tremblay 137 0.60
Total valid votes 22,806 100.00
Rejected and declined votes 421
Turnout 23,227 76.03
Electors on the lists 30,551
Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

Source: Official Results, Le Directeur général des élections du Québec.

1988 Canadian federal election: Hochelaga—Maisonneuve
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
     Progressive Conservative Allan Koury 16,246 39.25 $41,169
Liberal Serge Laprade 14,168 34.23 $30,456
New Democratic Gaétan Nadeau 8,583 20.74 $43,353
Rhinoceros Marie Chou Chou Chouinard 1,196 2.89 $0
Green Marius Henry 800 1.93 $519
     N/A (Marxist-Leninist) Christiane Robidoux 159 0.38 $130
Commonwealth of Canada Sylvain Labelle 122 0.29 $0
Communist Montserrat Escola 114 0.28 $1,263
Total valid votes 41,388 100.00
Total rejected ballots 954
Turnout 42,342 69.14
Electors on the lists 61,240

Sources: Report of the Chief Electoral Officer, Thirty-fourth General Election, 1988; Report of the Chief Electoral Officer Respecting Election Expenses, 1988.


  1. ^ Angus: Du grand capital à l'économie sociale: Au sujet de l'auteur, Publications Gouvernementales, accessed 24 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Quebec NDP members divided on forming a provincial party," Globe and Mail, 20 March, A5.
  3. ^ Lewis Harris, "MCM dissidents leave their mark; Half a dozen councillors emerge as strongest opposition at city hall," Montreal Gazette, 12 March 1988, B4; "The RACE for Montreal," Montreal Gazette, 2 October 1988, B6.
  4. ^ Bertrand Marotte, "Constituents bitter in Montreal riding," Globe and Mail, 14 November 1988, A5.
  5. ^ Peter Kuitenbrouwer, "Quebec NDP splits from federal party," Montreal Gazette, 1 May 1989, A1.
  6. ^ "Quebec NDP to review links to federal party," Globe and Mail, 29 April 1989, A9.
  7. ^ "Quebec NDP members divided on forming a provincial party," Globe and Mail, 20 March, A5.
  8. ^ "Quebec NDP to review links to federal party," Globe and Mail, 29 April 1989, A9.
  9. ^ Andre Picard, "Quebec NDP opts for autonomy," Globe and Mail, 1 May 1989, A1.
  10. ^ Andre Picard, "Quebec's political fringe filled with choices," 21 September 1989, A5
  11. ^ William Johnson, "Anglo mentality needs changing," Montreal Gazette, 17 August 1989, B3; Lewis Harris, "NDP ready to uncover new platform," Montreal Gazette, 18 August 1989, A4.
  12. ^ Graeme Hamilton, "Quebec NDP OK's nationalist stance," Montreal Gazette, 20 August 1989, A6.
  13. ^ Elisabeth Kalbfuss, "NDP bright lights have switched their allegiance," Montreal Gazette, 21 September 1989, A12.
  14. ^ Elisabeth Kalbfuss, "NDP bright lights have switched their allegiance," Montreal Gazette, 21 September 1989, A12.
  15. ^ Andre Picard, "Marxist members blamed for Quebec NDP's demise," Globe and Mail, 27 September 1989, A5.
  16. ^ Elizabeth Thompson, "Homes near Miron quarry exposed to methane gas: Rotrand," Montreal Gazette, 11 September 1991, A3.