Already a notable journalist, successful land speculator and veteran politician by Confederation in 1867, Joseph Cauchon became the first Speaker of the Senate in the new Dominion of Canada.
Cauchon began his political career in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, where he was first elected in 1844 and re-elected six more times. His political prominence in Canada East led the first Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau, to call on him after Confederation to form the government of the new province. Cauchon was unsuccessful, mainly because of the Protestant–Roman Catholic political complexities in Quebec. In the meantime, he was elected by acclamation to the House of Commons and to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec, dual mandates being allowable at the time.
The Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, had known Cauchon since they had both been elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1844, and he was aware that Cauchon’s views on sectarian education in Quebec had made him unpopular among many parliamentarians. Yet Cauchon had to be recognized politically by the government in some way. Rather than bring him into his first Cabinet, Macdonald nominated him for appointment to the Senate on November 2, 1867. Three days later, Macdonald appointed Cauchon as Speaker of the Senate.
While Speaker, Cauchon continued to own Le Journal de Québec and retained his seat in the Quebec Legislative Assembly. Except for two brief absences from the chair, he served as Speaker until June 30, 1872.
Cauchon resigned the Speakership to run as an Independent for a seat in the House of Commons. He subsequently joined the Liberal Party and held two Cabinet posts in the government of Liberal Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, who nominated him for appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba in 1877. He retired in 1882, and died in 1885 at his home in Whitewood, in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley.
Cauchon was the only Senate Speaker to resign in order to run successfully for election to the House of Commons.
Next Speaker: Hon. John Ross
Born: St-Roch, Lower Canada, 1816
Died: Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, 1885
Journalism, Law, Business
Political Affiliation: Conservative
Prime Minister During Speakership: