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The "parti rouge"

The "parti rouge" was a political movement and party active in Canada East from 1848 to 1867. The Parti patriote disappeared when the Rebellions of 1837 and 1838 were put down. Its leaders succeeded in holding the support of a majority of French-Canadians and formed a political alliance that proposed a number of reforms.

One faction of these pro-reformists took issue with what they saw as a shift toward the moderation and pseudo-Liberalism among its elite members. This faction, more radical than the rest of the party, became known as the "rouges" or "parti rouge," and was thus associated with the European revolutionaries.

In the mid-1850s, members of this faction and more moderate reformers fought over the epithet of "Liberal." By the end of the 1850s, though, and particularly with the advent of Confederation, moderate reformers won popular support and the radicalism of the "parti rouge" lost favour.

Politically, members of the "rouge" faction defended the democratic and republican principles of universal suffrage, the separation of Church and State, and legal and constitutional reforms. They encouraged frank political, philosophical and ideological discussion, and founded the Institut canadien to uphold this principle. Members of the "parti rouge" were also associated with a radical Liberalism and an anticlericalism that was popular only with a small number of French-Canadians.


Bernard, Jean-Paul. -- Les rouges : libéralisme, nationalisme et anticléricalisme au milieu du XIXe siècle. -- Montréal : PUQ, 1971. -- 394 p.

Lacoursière, J. ; Provencher, J. ; Vaugeois, D. -- Canada Québec : synthèse historique. -- Montréal : ERPI, 1976. -- P. 356-357.