The tribunicial function and the Créditiste group in the Quebec National Assembly, 1970–3
An analysis of the attitudes and behaviour of the Créditiste group since its first appearance in Quebec's National Assembly (1970–3) has two interesting aspects. First, it clarifies the Créditiste phenomenon, supporting the conclusions arrived at in a study conducted by Vera Murray. This study held that the RCQ was distinguished by the exercise of a specific function, namely, the defence and representation of the interests of underprivileged social classes. This is a function which Georges Lavau has described as tribunicial. We intend to show that the Créditiste members, in spite of the internal splits in the party during the leadership of Camil Samson and Armand Bois, have clearly fulfilled a protective function on behalf of “proletarian social elements” in the political system.
The election of Yvon Dupuis to head the party in February 1973 inaugurated the progressive abandonment of this specific role, which had characterized the RCQ until then on Quebec's political chessboard, in favour of the function of providing governmental alternatives. Second, this study enables us to clarify and to distinguish between certain points in regard to the tribunicial function and the function of providing alternatives, used by Georges Lavau. In our opinion, the case of the RCQ is a much purer illustration of the tribunicial function than is the case of the PCF.
In brief, the essence of the tribunicial function is the use of social criticism – not political criticism – based on the defence of underprivileged classes and revolving around the detailed denunciation of the political establishment. The tribunicial function also displays very little interest in the discussion or elaboration of a program of wholesale reform.