No More Prime Ministers From Quebec

The controversial slogan of the Reform Party in the 1997 federal election.

On the one hand, the slogan reflected a factual observation that the country had been led – at that point for an almost unbroken stretch of three decades – by three successive Quebec MPs: Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien. On the other hand, it was also seen as a cynical play to anti-French and anti-Quebec prejudices in parts of English Canada, an especially dangerous maneuver after the raw Meech Lake debates and the emotional near-death experience of the 1995 Quebec Referendum.

In particular, the slogan aimed to enable the Reform Party to break through in rural Ontario, and positioned it against Quebec MP (and future Quebec Premier) Jean Charest, who was seeking to revive the decimated PC party under his leadership.

The Reform Party became the Official Opposition in the election – though that was due to the loss of seats by the Bloc Quebecois. It was once again shut out of Ontario. The image of Preston Manning, who had consistently sought to portray himself as an avatar of a more idealistic politics, was badly damaged; by the 2000 election, Manning himself was replaced as leader, and the Party thought it best to rebrand as the Canadian Alliance.

Image source: Wikimedia

See More Parli