Quebec's Quiet revolution:
What is it? How has it changed Quebec's society? How has it
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.
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