PARADIS, PHILIPPE-JACQUES (baptized Joseph-Jacques-Philippe), journalist, businessman, political organizer, politician, and civil servant; b. 4 Aug. 1868 in the parish of Saint-Roch in Quebec City, son of Euclide Paradis, an accountant, and Marie-Louise Jolicœur; m. 18 May 1891 Emma Fraser in the parish of Saint-Patrice-de-la-Rivière-du-Loup in Fraserville (Rivière-du-Loup), Que., and they had three daughters, one of whom died in infancy, and a son; d. 20 June 1933 in Quebec City and was buried three days later in Notre-Dame de Belmont cemetery in Sainte-Foy (Quebec City).
Philippe-Jacques Paradis apparently came from a family of modest means. He was only seven when his father died suddenly. He attended the Petit Séminaire de Québec from 1881 to 1888, where, according to the 20 June 1933 issue of L’Action catholique, “he stood out because of his fine mind and work ethic.” While studying, he lived in Quebec City’s Saint-Roch ward and then in the Saint-Jean ward with his mother, who was a sales clerk.
After his training at the seminary, Paradis considered taking up a liberal profession but instead chose to enter the business world. Around 1891 he worked as a bookkeeper in Quebec City and a correspondent for Le Prix courant, a Montreal weekly for business people. Some two years later he was employed as a general agent for the Coopération Commerciale, a marketing company.
In about 1895 Paradis became a commercial traveller. He represented various firms, including Bell’s Asbestos Company, and toured around the province. The job allowed him to establish ties with numerous merchants and develop an in-depth knowledge of people and their points of view. In 1902 Paradis was active in founding the Cercle des Voyageurs de Commerce de Québec, of which he was the first secretary and where he established la guignolée, an annual charitable event.
Despite a busy professional life, Paradis took a great interest in politics. He belonged to Quebec City’s Union Libérale, a political club that brought together a number of young Liberals, including Louis-Alexandre Taschereau* and Adélard Turgeon*, and published a weekly of the same name. Paradis was its manager in 1893. He was also one of the political organizers for Simon-Napoléon Parent*, who, having been elected mla for Saint-Sauveur in 1890 and then mayor in 1894, was a key figure in the city. In 1900, when Parent became premier, Paradis was involved in organizing the districts of Quebec, Abitibi, and Lac-Saint-Jean, as well as part of the Eastern Townships. In 1905 Lomer Gouin* replaced Parent as head of the province and Liberal leader. Parent’s supporters were driven out, which momentarily left Paradis on the sidelines. In 1906 he contributed to the founding of Quebec City’s La Vigie, a new party newspaper of which he was to be a governing board member and president from 1910 to 1912.
Owing to his talent, his understanding of people, and his loyalty and friendships, Paradis became chief Liberal Party organizer for the district of Quebec in 1908. The prestigious appointment meant that he was responsible for party affairs in his region and acted as the intermediary between the party leader, his lieutenant, and the riding organizers. Paradis also interceded with ministers in an attempt to obtain government jobs and contracts. During elections he became commander-in-chief. He saw to constituency organization, assisted with candidate selection, coordinated publicity, dispatched speakers to meetings, and maintained ties with journalists. Aided by his main collaborators, Charles (Chubby) Gavan Power*, Lucien Cannon, Joseph-Arthur Lesage, and Oscar-Alphonse Bériau, Paradis took part in every federal and provincial election fought by his party until 1931.
The nature of his work gave Paradis access to the inner circle of the provincial Liberal Party, and he became a close friend of premiers Gouin and Taschereau. He was particularly involved in the activities of the Garrison Club of Quebec and the Club de Réforme de Québec, and he took part in fishing and hunting trips during which policies were discussed. He also received party appointments. In 1909 he was made secretary of the Turnpike Roads’ and Toll Bridges’ Commission and, in 1914, fire commissioner for Quebec City. As Power would later relate in his memoirs, these positions “supplied [him with] a salary and travelling expenses for at least ten years.” On 7 June 1917 Gouin’s government named him legislative councillor for the La Salle division.
Concurrently, Paradis pursued a successful business career. An active member of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce, in 1910 he became the sole eastern Canada agent for the Asbestos Manufacturing Company Limited, which made asbestos products in its Lachine (Montreal) factory. He was president of the company from 1913 to 1925. In 1930 he became a member of the executive committee of the Asbestos Corporation Limited, which controlled about one-third of asbestos production in the province. He was also a director of the Quebec Power Company and the Quebec Saguenay and Chibougamau Railway Company.
In the 1920s Paradis kept an eye out for appointments by the federal government. During the summer of 1922, Quebec City Liberals put his name forward for a seat on the board of directors of the Canadian National Railway Company. However, following the appearance of a Globe article (1 August) denouncing the candidacy as partisan and founded on political allegiance rather than on railway experience, the only position allotted to Quebec went in October to the Montreal notary Ernest-Rémi Décary, a decision that angered Paradis’s supporters. During the 1923 provincial election campaign, a commitment to appoint a Quebec district representative to the railway’s board was made by Ernest Lapointe*, who was the federal minister of marine and fisheries and Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King*’s Quebec lieutenant. Although Paradis’s friends again put pressure on the prime minister, in February the coveted post went to the former mp for Bellechasse, Onésiphore-Ernest Talbot.
In 1925 Paradis was approached about a seat in the Senate. Owing to a customs scandal, however, Jacques Bureau received the nomination. On 14 Dec. 1927 the federal government finally called Paradis to the upper chamber to represent the Shawinigan division. The new senator, who would occupy the post until his death, was then a man of great influence. In 1929, for example, he collected the tidy sum of $125,000 from party financial backers for a gift for Lapointe in recognition of his 25 years in politics.
Paradis was also interested in protecting the historic character of old Quebec City, where he resided at 33 Rue Laporte (de la Porte). In 1928 he was appointed president of the new Commission d’Urbanisme et de Conservation de Québec. Without any effective power to prevent the demolition or erection of buildings, the commission nevertheless did have a few successes. It obtained, among other things, an additional $50,000 credit from the Department of National Defence for maintaining the city’s ramparts.
In 1930 Paradis’s political career went through a period of upheaval. On 22 May the United Farmers of Alberta mp Robert Gardiner proposed in the House of Commons that there be an emergency debate on the annulment of the charter of the Beauharnois Power Corporation Limited by the federal government. According to him, the company’s shareholders were reported to have made staggering amounts of money by deceiving the government [see King]. In so doing, he uncovered the beginning of what would become known as the Beauharnois Scandal, which incriminated Liberal senators Donat Raymond*, Wilfrid Laurier McDougald*, Andrew Haydon, and Paradis, who was both a member of the board and a shareholder of the Beauharnois Power Corporation Limited, having bought shares at market price.
On 28 July King’s government was defeated [see Richard Bedford Bennett*]. In Quebec the Conservatives took 20 seats from the Liberals, several of which were in the district of Quebec. The chief organizer, weakened by heart trouble, was perhaps no longer the man for the job. The time for him to hand over control of the electoral machine was probably coming. On 24 Feb. 1931 King wrote in his diary: “It is hardly believable that one after the other could break up in this fashion. With Haydon, Paradis & Raymond all ‘hors de combat’, the organization ‘machine’ is pretty well gone.” On 11 June Paradis gave up his position as chief organizer. The provincial government appointed him vice-president of the Quebec Liquor Commission. The next day, in a statement published in L’Action catholique, Premier Taschereau commented: “I believe I am expressing the very deep sorrow that every Liberal will feel at seeing Mr Paradis leave as our election battle commander. He has occupied this position of trust with a tact, fervour and loyalty to his friends that never failed during the quarter century he was our organizer.” Power succeeded Paradis on 26 June. The commons and Senate committees responsible for investigating the Beauharnois Scandal did not question Paradis, nor did their reports, tabled respectively in 1931 and 1932, fault him.
On the morning of 20 June 1933 Philippe-Jacques Paradis, who had been bedridden for a few days with influenza, died at home at the age of 64. That day Le Soleil wrote: “With his death, the Liberal Party has lost one of its most devoted and skilled leaders, the City of Quebec one of its most distinguished citizens and Canada a respected public figure.” His funeral was held in the city’s basilica of Notre-Dame. Owing to hard work and his understanding of people, Paradis was one of the architects of Liberal domination in the province of Quebec in the early decades of the 20th century and a well-regarded fellow citizen.
There is no archival fonds for Philippe-Jacques Paradis. In LAC’s collection, however, the fonds of Sir Wilfrid Laurier (R10811-0-X), William Lyon Mackenzie King (R10383-0-6), and Sir Lomer Gouin (R7648-0-6) include many of Paradis’s letters, and at BANQ-Q the Louis-Alexandre Taschereau fonds (P350) contains a letter from his widow. No study of Paradis has been written, but his name appears in many works.
Paradis is the author of “Notre langage commercial,” a lecture published in the Bull. of the Soc. du Parler Français au Canada (Québec) in 1906–7, and “Une industrie qui nous manque,” a two-page text that appeared in the pamphlet L’amiante: l’opinion d’un bon libéral et des officiers du gouvernement King, probably in 1925. He also contributed to two reports published by the Commission des chemins à barrières et des ponts de péage in Quebec in 1910.
BANQ-BSLGIM, CE104-S8, 18 mai 1891. BANQ-Q, CE301-S1, 23 juin 1933; CE301-S22, 4 août 1868. LAC, “Diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King,” 24 Feb. 1931: www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/politics-government/prime-ministers/william-lyon-mackenzie-king/Pages/diaries-william-lyon-mackenzie-king.aspx (consulted 12 Aug. 2015). L’Action catholique (Québec), 20 juin 1933. Border Cities Star (Windsor, Ont.), 14 July 1931. Le Devoir, 5 oct. 1922; 19 janv., 12 févr. 1923; 11 juin 1931; 20, 23 juin 1933. Globe, 1 Aug. 1922, 21 June 1933. La Presse, 26 juin 1931. Le Quotidien (Lévis, Québec), 21 juin 1933. Le Soleil, 6, 7 juin 1917; 15, 16 déc. 1927; 12 oct. 1928; 20, 21 juin 1933. L’Union libérale (Québec), 8 mai 1888. BCF, 1923, 1927, 1930, 1932. Réal Bélanger, L’impossible défi: Albert Sévigny et les conservateurs fédéraux (1902–1918) (Québec, 1983). Paul Bernier, Ernest Lapointe, député de Kamouraska, 1904–1919 (La Pocatière, Québec, 1979). L.‑R. Betcherman, Ernest Lapointe: Mackenzie King’s great Quebec lieutenant (Toronto, 2002). J.‑C. Bonenfant, “Les commissions d’enquête du Québec,” Québec, Bureau de la Statistique, Quebec yearbook (Quebec), 1972: 36–76. Can., House of Commons, Special committee on Beauharnois power project [Minutes of proc. and evidence] (Ottawa, 1931); Senate, Debates, 1928–33; Special committee appointed for the purpose of taking into consideration the report of a special committee of the House of Commons … to investigate the Beauharnois power project …, Report and proc. (Ottawa, 1932). Canadian directory of parl. (Johnson). The Canadian Patriotic Fund: a record of its activities from 1914 to 1919, comp. P. H. Morris ([Ottawa?, 1920?]). Directory, Quebec, 1886–1889; Quebec and Lévis, 1889–94. J. Hamelin et al., La presse québécoise, vols.3–4. Armand La Vergne, Trente ans de vie nationale (Montréal, 1934). P.‑A. Linteau et al., Histoire du Québec contemporain (2v., Montréal, 1979–86), 2 (Le Québec depuis 1930). C. G. Power, A party politician: the memoirs of Chubby Power, ed. Norman Ward (Toronto, 1966). Que., National Assembly, “Québec dictionary of parliamentary biography, from 1764 to the present”: www.assnat.qc.ca/en/membres/notices/index.html (consulted 9 April 2013). Rumilly, Hist. de la prov. de Québec, vol. 25–29, 32. The storied province of Quebec: past and present, ed. W. [C. H.] Wood et al. (5v., Toronto, 1931–32). Gustave Turcotte, Le conseil législatif de Québec, 1774–1933 (Beauceville, Québec, 1933). Univ. Laval, Annuaire, 1882–89. Marc Vallières, Des mines et des hommes: histoire de l’industrie minérale québécoise, des origines au début des années 1980 (Québec, 1989). B. L. Vigod, Quebec before Duplessis: the political career of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (Kingston, Ont., and Montreal, 1986). Reginald Whitaker, The government party: organizing and financing the Liberal Party of Canada, 1930–58 (Toronto, 1977).