A Quebec political dynasty: the David family

Article 9 / 10 , Vol 44 No. 4 (Winter)

A Quebec political dynasty: the David family

Few families fit the definition of a “political dynasty” better than the David family. For over 100 years now, the family has left their mark on Quebec and Canadian politics.

Laurent-Olivier David (1840–1926), a lawyer and newspaper editor, was elected as the Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec for Montreal East in 1886. He did not seek re-election in 1890. Laurent-Olivier was defeated in Montreal East in the 1891 federal election and in Napierville in the 1892 provincial election. Appointed as senator for the senatorial division of Mille-Isles in 1903, Laurent-Olivier remained in office until his death.

His son, Athanase David (1882–1953), also had a long political career. Elected the Liberal MLA for Terrebonne in 1916, he served as provincial secretary in the cabinets of premiers Lomer Gouin and Louis-Alexandre Taschereau from 1919 to 1936. After a three-year break, Athanase was re-elected in Terrebonne in 1939. He resigned the following year after being appointed as senator for the senatorial division of Sorel.

Other members of Athanase David’s family were active in politics. His brother-in-law, Louis-Joseph Lemieux (1869–1952), was the Liberal MLA for Gaspé from 1904 to 1910. His son in law, Jean Raymond (1907–1970), was the legislative councillor for the division of Rigaud between 1960 and 1968. His son, Paul David (1919–1999), a cardiologist, was appointed as a senator by Brian Mulroney in 1985 after a distinguished career in medicine.

A fourth generation of the David family also left its mark on Quebec politics. One of Paul David’s daughters, Françoise David, first became known for her involvement in the labour and feminist movement before being elected as co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire in 2006. After being defeated as the party’s candidate for the riding of Gouin in 2007 and 2008, Françoise was elected in 2012. She sat in the National Assembly for five years until her resignation in 2017.

Her younger sister, Hélène David, ran as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Outremont in 2014. Elected as an MNA, she played a number of roles in Philippe Couillard’s government. Re elected as the Liberal MNA for the riding of Marguerite-Bourgeoys in the general election of October 1, 2018, Hélène currently sits in the National Assembly.

Mathieu Houle-Courcelles

Analyst, Research Service, Library of the National Assembly of Quebec