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Quebecs quiet revolution

Quebec's Quiet revolution:

What is it? How has it changed Quebec's society? How has it

affected Confederation?

The English-French relations have not always been easy.

Each is always arguing and accusing the other of wrong doings.

All this hatred and differences started in the past, and this

Quiet revolution, right after a new Liberal government led by

Jean Lesage came in 1960. Thus was the beginning of the Quiet


Lesage had an excellent team of cabinet ministers which

included Rene Levesque. The Liberals promised to do two things

during the Quiet Revolution; one was to improve economic and

social standards for the people of Quebec, and the other was to

win greater respect and recognition for all the French people of

Canada. The Liberals started a program to take control of hydro-

electric power companies. French-Canadian engineers from all

over Canada returned to Quebec to work on the project. Slogans

during these times were "we can do it" and "masters in our own

homes". The government also started to replace programs the

Church previously ran, which included hospital insurance, pension

schemes and the beginning of Medi-Care. For these programs, the

Quebec Liberals had to struggle with Ottawa for a larger share of

the tax dollars.

One of the greatest reforms was the modernization of the

entire school system. The Church used to own the schools of

Quebec. Most of the teachers were Priests, Nuns and Brothers.

They provided a good education but Quebec needed more in business

and technology. Lesage wanted a government-run school system

that would provide Quebec with people in engineering, science,

business and commerce.

With the new freedom of expression, lots of books, plays and

music about French culture were all developed in Quebec. French

contemporary playwrights were very famous during that time.

However, not all was going well in Quebec. The French-English

relation was going bad. Many studies showed that French-Canadian

Quebecers were earning the lowest wage in all of the ethnic

groups in Canada. Other complaints were that the top jobs in

Quebec were given to English speaking Canadians. Canada was

going through the worst crisis in its history, and unless equal

partnership was found a break-up would likely happen. Some

Quebecers thought that separation was the only solution. They

thought that as long as Quebec was associated with the rest of

Canada, French-Canadians would never be treated equal.

The FLQ (Front De Libération Du Québec) was founded in 1963.

It was a smaller, more forceful group of separatists. They were

a collection of groups of young people whose idea was to use

terrorism to achieve independence for Quebec. The ALQ (L'Armée

de Libération de Quebec) was even more of a violent separatist

group. Some of their actions included robbing banks in order to

get money. For their ammunition they had to raid arms depots of

the Canadian Armed Forces.

There were many Federalists that believed that separatism

had no future and that French-Canadians could play a role in a

bi-lingual Canada. There were three Quebec men that believed in

Federalism. These men were Liberals and their names were Pierre

Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gérard Pelletier. The President of

France, General De Gaulle came to Quebec in 1967 and gave

speeches to separatist groups that deemed him an enthusiast of

the thoughts of the separatists in the struggle to fight for the

liberation of Quebec. The Prime Minister at the time, Lester B.

Pearson, criticized De Gaulle's remarks and said that Quebec

belonged to Canada and there was no need for their liberation.

In 1970, British Trade Commissioner James R. Cross was kidnapped

by FLQ and wanted in return for Cross, 23 political prisoners.

Quebec Labour Minister, Pierre Laporte was also kidnapped which

started a Quebec crisis. After a few months Cross returned when

Laporte was assassinated. The Quebec crisis ended several years

of violence in Quebec. This crisis made many Quebecers upset

because Ottawa sent the army into Quebec. Therefore English-

French turmoil did not end.

Rene Levesque was a leader who became very popular in Quebec

with his views on independence. In 1976, Rene Levesque and the

Parti Quebecois won the Provincial election. Now many Quebecers

thought he could build up Quebec. Since many French were lower

then English in status, Quebecers thought the Parti Quebecois

could do something about it.

Then the two languages became a major issue. Many

businesses had a sign in French only, and doctors and nurses had

to speak French. These were all effects on Bill 101 by the Parti

Quebecois. Immigrants were educated only in French. Businesses

accused the Parti Quebecois of practising economic blackmail.

Quebec Nationalists wanted an independent state so that they

could have full control over their territory. But many top

authorities in Canada say it is not legal for a Province to

leave. Levesque said that he wanted a Quebec that was

independent but joined Canada in the market. Levesque wanted to

protect Quebec culture. Many people in Quebec opposed the

separation. An organization called the Positive Action Committee

was formed to help fight the separation dispute.

Quebec was not the only Province that wanted more political

power for themselves. Canada was working an a new Constitution

and wanted to replace the BNA Act of 1867. If a new Constitution

was made, Quebec might remain a part of Canada. The Constitution

had to make all the Provinces happy. It would have to recognize

the partnership between the French and the English in the history

of Quebec. The Federal Liberals probably helped tip the balance

in favour of the no vote.

The referendum campaign in the early 80's was intense.

Premier of Quebec, Rene Levesque and the PQ desperately wanted

the vote to be a resounding "oui". The referendum was a critical

test for the PQ government. The PQ's (Parti Quebecois) was

elected out of the separatist platform. Their party represented

the bone of forming independence of Quebec. In order for the

independence movement to take greater strides, the Parti Qubecois

would have to encourage an "our" vote in the Referendum. There

were intense battles to win the opinion and admiration of the

Quebec population with ads in newspapers, magazines, on T.V and

radio. With a resounding "no vote" in the makings, Prime

Minister Pierre Trudeau was prepared to bring on the

Constitution. Trudeau made a speech on May 14th, which was a

sincere commitment to a new Canada. He was determined that

Canada would have a new Federal system of government.

Source: Essay UK -

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