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The Parti rouge (alternatively known as the parti démocratique) was formed in the Province of Canada (now Quebec, Canada) around 1848 by radical French-Canadians inspired by the ideas of Louis-Joseph Papineau, the Institut canadien de Montréal, and the reformist movement led by the Parti patriote of the 1830s.

The party was a successor to the Parti patriote. The reformist rouges did not believe that the 1840 Act of Union had truly granted a responsible government to former Upper and Lower Canada. They advocated important democratic reforms, republicanism, separation of the state and the church. They were perceived as anti-clerical and radical by their political adversaries. Some of its members desired the abolition of the semi-feudal seigneurial system of land ownership, although Papineau was himself a seigneur and a vocal defender of the traditional system, which he wanted reformed, not abolished.

They opposed the union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada into the United Province of Canada, and demanded its termination. When talks for Canadian confederation began, its members either opposed the idea, or suggested a decentralized confederation. They were opposed to the ultramontane politics of the Catholic clergy of Quebec and the Parti bleu.

In 1858, the elected rouges allied with the Clear Grits in the legislature of the united province of Canada. This resulted in the shortest-lived government in Canadian history, falling in less than a day. Not long after, the failure of most of the party's political actions caused its downfall and its more moderate members (notably including Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's first francophone Prime Minister) formed what became the Liberal Party of Canada in conjunction with their Upper Canadian Clear-Grit allies.



  • L'Avenir (1847-1857)
  • Le Pays (1852-1871)


  • Manifeste du Comité constitutionnel de la réforme et du progrès, 1847 ( online)
  • Manifeste du Club national démocratique, 1849 (online)


  • "Parti rouge", in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation, 2008
  • Claude Bélanger, "Parti Rouge", in The Quebec History Encyclopedia, 2006
  • "The "parti rouge"", in Canadian Confederation, Library and Archives Canada, December 14, 2001, updated May 2, 2005

Additional French language information sources

  • Lamonde, Yvan (2000). Histoire sociale des idées au Québec, 1760-1896, Montréal: Éditions Fides, 576 p. ISBN 2-7621-2104-3 (online)
  • Lamonde, Yvan (1994). Louis-Antoine Dessaulles, 1818-1895 : un seigneur libéral et anticlérical, Saint-Laurent: Fides, 369 p. ISBN 2-7621-1736-4
  • Lamonde, Yvan (1990). Gens de parole : conférences publiques, essais et débats à l'Institut canadien de Montréal, 1845-1871, Montréal: Boréal, 176 p. ISBN 2890523691
  • de Lagrave, Jean-Paul (1976). Le combat des idées au Québec-Uni, 1840-1867, Montréal: Editions de Lagrave, 150 p.
  • Bernard, Jean-Paul (1971). Les Rouges ; libéralisme, nationalisme et anticléricalisme au milieu du XIXe siècle, Montréal: Presses de l'Université du Québec, 394 p. ISBN 0777000288
  • Dumont, Fernand, Montminy, Jean-Paul, and Hamelin, Jean ed. (1971). Idéologies au Canada français, 1850-1900, Québec: Presses de l'Université Laval, 327 p.

See also


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