Legislative Council of Quebec

From 1867 until 1968, the Legislative Council of Quebec (French; Conseil législatif du Québec) was the unelected upper house of the bicameral legislature in the Canadian province of Quebec. The Legislative Assembly was the elected lower house.

The Council was composed of 24 members, appointed until 1963 for life and thereafter until the age of 75 by the Lieutenant-governor upon recommendation of the Premier. Each councillor nominally represented a portion of the Province of Quebec called a division.

The Council had the right to introduce bills, except of a financial nature, and to amend or veto bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. Its speaker, known in French as Orateur, was by right a member of the Cabinet, and its members could serve as ministers or even Premier. Two of Quebec premiers, Charles-Eugène Boucher de Boucherville and John Jones Ross were members of the Legislative Council.

In 1968, the Legislative Council was abolished, and the Legislative Assembly of Quebec was renamed the National Assembly. As a consequence, Quebec has a unicameral legislature. The establishment of the original system dates back to the Constitutional Act of 1791.

The Union Nationale government of Premier Jean-Jacques Bertrand passed the legislation, known as "Bill 90", to implement the change. Previous governments had made unsuccessful attempts to eliminate the upper chamber. In fact, the first attempt dated all the way back to Félix-Gabriel Marchand in the late nineteenth century. Quebec was the last of the provinces to abolish its unelected upper house.

The large chamber which used to house the Legislative Council is also known as le salon rouge (the red hall) because of the predominance of this colour on the walls. It is now used for committee meetings and for important state functions that require a large, impressive hall, such as inductions into the National Order of Quebec.

Speakers of the Legislative Council of Quebec (1867-1968)


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