Canada's electoral history from 1867 to today

Paucity, efficiency, or vanity?

by Maurice Y. Michaud (he/him)

From the beginning of Confederation in 1867 until about 1874, a politician could sit simultaneously in his provincial legislature and the federal parliament in what was known as the "double mandate." The man portrayed on this page, Ontario Liberal Edward Blake, took this to an extreme: for a few months in 1871–72, he was the premier of Ontario as well as the member of Parliament for Durham West. So did Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, who was premier of Québec and the MP for Québec County from the beginning of Confederation until his resignation from both seats in early 1873, as well as Amor De Cosmos, who sat federally for Victoria while being the premier of British Columbia in 1873. But by the time that Wilfrid Laurier wanted to make the jump to federal politics, he first had to resign from his seat of Drummond-Arthabaska in the Québec legislative assembly, as the double mandate had been abolished.

That being said, a politician who was uncertain of his chances of winning a seat in a general election could run in more than one riding, in case he might lose in his usual riding. The ultimate case of someone doing that was in 1878, when John A. Macdonald ran in Kingston, Marquette, and Victoria (British Columbia). His premonition was right because he lost his usual seat of Kingston, but won both Marquette and Victoria. He kept the latter and resigned from the former which he had won by acclamation, which is what people did when that happened... except Laurier who, from 1911 to 1917, kept the two seats he had won: Quebec East (won by acclamation) and Soulanges. It is unclear why he was allowed to do that, although being the incumbent prime minister may have given him some privilege, or no other Liberal was willing or able to represent the riding.

Meanwhile, nothing prevented someone (particularly in Québec) from sitting in the provincial assembly while being a municipal councillor or mayor. We can think of Simon-Napoléon Parent, who was Québec's premier while being mayor of Québec City at the turn of the last century; Conservative MLA Camillien Houde in Montréal—Sainte-Marie while mayor of Montreal, or even Maurice Tessier who was both Liberal MNA and mayor of Rimouski in the late 1960s. These are just a few examples out of hundreds, but since municipal politics is not covered by PoliCan and the practice has ceased everywhere by the early 1980s, I'm afraid it's up to you to find all the others.

So here is the list of the men who exercised a double mandate in the sense understood in the 19th century. Double mandates were never allowed in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island; they were abolished in Ontario in 1872; in Manitoba and British Columbia in 1873, and in Québec in 1874. There were 35 in all before they were abolished, most of them in Québec:

  • British Columbia: 1
  • Manitoba: 4*
  • Ontario: 8
  • Québec: 23
* George-Étienne Cartier had one in Manitoba and one in Québec, explaining why the sum is greater by one. As for the single case in British Columbia, when we understand that it was Amor De Cosmos, it becomes not at all surprising.

I recommend that you read this excellent article (French only) on the website of the National Assembly of Quebec which defines the dual mandate very well and presents the arguments for and against this practice.

Double mandates, 1867–1874
Who Jurisdiction Riding
Louis Beaubien (1837–1915)
Québec
Hochelaga
Joseph-Hyacinthe Bellerose (1820–1899)
Québec
Laval
D. Edward Blake (1833–1912)
Ontario
Durham West / Bruce South
Joseph-Godric Blanchet (1829–1890)
Québec
Lévis
Louis-Charles Boucher de Niverville (1825–1869)
Québec
Three Rivers
John Carling (1828–1911)
Ontario
London
George-Étienne Cartier (1814–1873)
Québec
Montreal East / Beauharnois
George-Étienne Cartier (1814–1873)
Manitoba
Provencher
Joseph-Édouard Cauchon (1816–1885)
Québec
Montmorency / Quebec Centre
Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau (1820–1890)
Québec
Quebec County
Frederick W. Cumberland (1820–1881)
Ontario
Algoma
Amor De Cosmos (1825–1897)
British Columbia
Victoria
Pierre Delorme (1832–1912)
Manitoba
St. Norbert South / Provencher
Firmin Dugas (1830–1889)
Québec
Montcalm
Christopher Dunkin (1812–1881)
Québec
Brome
Thomas R. Ferguson (1818–1879)
Ontario
Cardwell / Simcoe South
Pierre-Étienne Fortin (1823–1888)
Québec
Gaspé
Joseph Gaudet (Godet) (1818–1882)
Québec
Nicolet
Pierre-Samuel Gendron (1828–1889)
Québec
Bagot
Luther H. Holton (1817–1880)
Québec
Châteauguay / Montreal Centre
George Irvine (1826–1897)
Québec
Megantic
Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (1829–1908)
Québec
Lotbinière
Hector-Louis Langevin (1826–1906)
Québec
Dorchester / Quebec Centre
J. Sandfield Macdonald (1812–1872)
Ontario
Cornwall
Alexander Mackenzie (1822–1892)
Ontario
Lambton / Middlesex West
Élie Mailloux (1830–1893)
Québec
Témiscouata
John L. McDougall (1838–1909)
Ontario
Renfrew South
Angus A. McKay (1836–1910)
Manitoba
Lake Manitoba / Marquette
Charles-Alphonse-Pantaléon Pelletier (1837–1911)
Québec
Kamouraska / Quebec East
Christian H. Pozer (1835–1884)
Québec
Beauce
Théodore Robitaille (1834–1897)
Québec
Bonaventure
Louis-Adélard Sénécal (1829–1887)
Québec
Drummond—Arthabaska / Yamaska
Georges-Honoré Simard (1817–1873)
Québec
Quebec Centre
Donald A. Smith (1820–1914)
Manitoba
Selkirk / Winnipeg and St. John
Pierre-Alexis Tremblay (1827–1879)
Québec
Chicoutimi-Saguenay / Charlevoix
Edmund B. Wood (1820–1882)
Ontario
Brant South


© 2019, 2024 :: PoliCan.ca (Maurice Y. Michaud)
Pub.: 23 Oct 2022 13:06
Rev.: 23 May 2024 21:53