Caouette, Joseph-David-Réal

 Joseph-David-Réal Caouette, politician, leader of the Social Credit Party (b at Amos, Abitibi, Qué 26 Sept 1917; d at Ottawa, 16 Dec 1976). Rising in the 1962 general election from virtual obscurity, Réal Caouette became a national political force as leader of the Québec SOCIAL CREDIT movement. Caouette joined the movement in 1939. He was elected to the Commons in a 1946 by-election as a member of the Union des électeurs.

Unsuccessful in subsequent efforts to re-enter either the federal or the Québec Houses, Caouette allied his Ralliement des CRÉDITISTES with the national Social Credit Party in 1961 and ran for the post of national leader. Defeated by Robert THOMPSON, he was appointed Thompson's deputy and Québec's leader. In the 1962 general election, which resulted in a Conservative minority government, 26 of the 30 Social Credit MPs elected were Caouette's followers.

Caouette's and Social Credit's appeal in Québec was primarily to voters in rural and small-town ridings, and Caouette's dramatic and exciting oratory, both in person and on his 15-minute TV shows, raised him to the status of a major political figure in Québec. He was a devoted federalist, though many of his economic views, loosely drawn from more orthodox Social Credit positions, represented a radical revolt against large power structures, especially the banks.

In September 1963 he broke with Thompson to become leader of his own Ralliement des créditistes, joined by 12 Québec MPs. His party's strength remained relatively stable in subsequent elections. In 1971 he reunited his Québec national party and became national leader, a post he held until ill health forced him to yield it to André Fortin in 1976.