- Each of the two twentieth century world wars had brought with it domestic tension related to the issue of conscription.
- There had been passionate opposition to conscription in Quebec in 1917 and again in 1944.
- After 1945 Quebec-Canada relations appeared to be relatively calm but problems remained very close to the surface.
The Problems of Quebec after 1945
- The population of Quebec was leaving the farms for jobs in the cities.
- Higher educational levels tended to make Quebeckers more critical of their situation in Canada.
- It was increasingly apparent that the English speaking minority in Quebec controlled the economy.
- The power of Ottawa and the influence English language was growing.
La Revolution Tranquille
- Maurice Duplessis, while he remained premier of Quebec, managed to control the forces of change.
- His death in 1959 opened the way for fundamental changes in Quebec.
- No longer would the citizens of Quebec be willing to accept second class status in their own province.
“Maitres Chez Nous”
- Duplessis’ approach to politics in Quebec was conservative and paternalistic.
- People were discouraged from questioning traditional authority.
- He was, however, a Quebec nationalist and stressed to Ottawa that Quebeckers must be “masters in their own house.”
What Were the Problems?
- Unemployment in Quebec was the highest in Canada.
- The English minority in Quebec were better paid and had better jobs than the French speaking population.
- Most top civil service positions were held by English speaking Canadians.
- The birth rate in Quebec was falling and new immigrants preferred to learn English.
The Government of Jean Lesage
- Duplessis’ Union National party had been in power for 18 of the previous 23 years.
- The Liberals under the leadership of Jean Lesage now embarked on a difficult and expensive program.
- The slogan of change continued to be “Maitres Chez Nous.”
- The Program of the Lesage Government Sought to
- Eliminate corruption in the Government of Quebec.
- Improve public services particularly, transportation , health care and education.
- Improve wages and pension benefits for the citizens of Quebec.
- Develop new industries and to access the natural resources of the province.
Quebec and Ottawa
- Lesage placed new demands on the central government to allow Quebec to take over complete control of programs like health and education.
- He wanted more control over the economic development of Quebec and a greater share of tax revenues from Ottawa.
- It was also made clear to Ottawa that Quebec wished to be consulted on any matter affecting the provincial interest.
Daniel Johnson and the Return of Union Nationale
- Lesage and his government were defeated in 1966.
- Daniel Johnson, the new Premier, did not abandon the goals of the Quiet Revolution.
- Johnson’s approach was to establish closer ties with France.
- The fear in Ottawa was underscored by the visit of Charles de Gaulle and his “Vive le Quebec Libre!” speech in 1967.
Violence in Quebec
- By 1963 there was a growing trend among some small radical groups in Quebec to arm themselves.
- Bombs were planted and military supplies stolen.
- Most French-Canadians opposed these lawless acts but Ottawa felt that it had to respond.
Ottawa Responds to Nationalism in Quebec
- All the provinces were granted greater autonomy and more money to run provincial programs.
- The new Canadian flag was adopted in 1965 replacing the old “Red Ensign.”
- The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was established in 1963 to study French language and culture in Canada.
The Commission Reports
- Canada was to be officially bilingual with English and French the official languages of Parliament and the federal courts.
- Government services should support minority language groups in all provinces.
- More French-Canadians should be employed in the federal civil service.
- French was to be the primary language of business and government in Quebec.
Trudeau and Quebec
- In 1968 Pierre Trudeau became the Prime Minister of Canada.
- He was a French-Canadian federalist with strong views on Canadian unity.
- Mr. Trudeau rejected separatism and focused on bilingualism in government.
- Large sums of money were spent to achieve this goal with mixed results.
Problems With Bilingualism
- It was difficult for older uni-lingual Canadians to learn a new language.
- English Canadians began to feel that the French language was being given an unfair degree of support and a backlash developed.
- Even among some French-Canadians there was opposition to the extent of the effort to encourage the use of French in English Canada.
Robert Bourassa Takes Power in Quebec 1970
- Robert Bourassa believed that Quebec’s place was in Canada.
- In the first year of his government he was forced to deal with a radical separatist group the FLQ.
- The Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) wanted the independence of Quebec and were prepared to use violence to achieve this end.
The October Crisis 1970
- After seven years of bombings and other acts of violence the FLQ embarked on one last desperate act of defiance.
- On October 5, 1970 they kidnapped James Cross the British Trade Commissioner to Canada.
- This was followed by a separate kidnapping of the Quebec Minister of Labour – Pierre Laporte.
The October Crisis II
- The FLQ issued a list of demands which included the release from prison of several members of their group.
- On October 16, 1970 Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act.
- This act gave the government special powers of arrest and had been requested by both the government of Quebec and the city of Montreal.
The October Crisis III
- Nearly 500 Quebeckers were arrested and jailed although very few were ever brought to trial.
- The FLQ was outlawed and the Canadian Armed Forces patrolled the streets of Montreal and Quebec City.
- Pierre Laporte was murdered but James Cross was eventually released.
Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois
- Most Quebecois were opposed to violence and terrorism but at the same time many supported a separate Quebec.
- This gave rise to a new separatist political party – the Parti Quebecois – led by Rene Levesque.
- Levesque led his party to victory in the provincial election of 1976.
Levesque and Bill 101
- One of the most controversial measures of the Parti Quebecois was Bill 101 – The Charter of the French Language.
- This bill made French the only working language in Quebec.
- English speaking Quebeckers felt the bill went too far and deprived them of their rights as Canadians in a bilingual country.
- All business in the Quebec government and courts will be carried out in French.
- French is to be the only official language in Quebec.
- The people of Quebec have the right to:
- > speak French at work.
- > be served in French in stores.
- > be taught in French.
The Quebec Referendum
- The Parti Quebecois organized a referendum on sovereignty-association for May 20, 1980.
- This meant independence from Canada but the retention of close economic ties.
- Claude Ryan the Liberal leader in Quebec urged Quebeckers to vote “non.”
- The campaign was very passionate and divisive.
The Quebec Referendum II
- Federal politicians, like Pierre Trudeau, supported the “no” side in Quebec.
- The actual referendum question was complex and did not attract the support the Government of Quebec wished.
- 82% of the population turned out to vote and 59% rejected the proposal.
The Quebec Referendum III
- The Reaction of the Federal Government
- In 1969 Pierre Trudeau took many of the recommendations of the “Bi and Bi” Commission and incorporated them in the Official Languages Act.
- This act was given a muted response in Quebec as most Quebec nationalists didn’t care about encouraging the French language across Canada.
Multiculturalism in Canada
- Biculturalism was not supported by the “Bi and Bi” Commission as the multicultural nature of our country was already an overwhelming fact.
- In 1977 “The Task Force on Canadian Unity” was established to study and make recommendations on the state of Canadian unity for all Canadians.
The Winds of Change
- The 1980 referendum convinced Pierre Trudeau that constitutional change was necessary.
- The Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau finally undertook the difficult task of patriating the constitution.
- This was achieved in 1982 but without the approval of Quebec.
Robert Bourassa’s Demands for Quebec – 1987
- “Distinct society” status.
- A veto for Quebec on any future constitutional amendments.
- More power over immigration to Quebec.
- The right to opt out of cost sharing programs with the federal government.
- The right to nominate Supreme Court judges.
- What did this term mean?
- Was Quebec to be considered different or special?
- If Quebec was to be special did this mean that additional powers would be given to the Quebec government?
The Meech Lake Accord 1987
- Meech Lake was an effort to complete the constitutional process and meet some of Quebec’s demands. It included
- 1. The confirmation of “distinct society” status for Quebec in order to bring the province into the constitution.
- 2. The right to allow provinces to nominate Supreme Court judges.
- The accord was not ratified by all ten provinces and failed.
The Failure of the Meech Lake Accord
- This accord was acceptable in Quebec but eventually failed in Manitoba.
- It was seen in Quebec as a rejection by the rest of Canada.
- The separatist movement in Quebec was revived by the emotion surrounding the failure of “Meech.”
The Bloc Quebecois
- The failure of the Meech Lake Accord resulted in the formation of a new federal political party – the”Bloc Quebecois.”
- This party attracted support only in Quebec but won enough seats in 1993 to become the official opposition party in Ottawa.
- The first leader of the “Bloc” was Lucien Bouchard.
The Charlottetown Accord 1992
- This was the second attempt to amend the constitution. It promised –
- 1. “Distinct society” status for Quebec.
- 2. Aboriginal self-government.
- 3. Senate reform.
- It failed to pass a national referendum in October 1992 when a large majority Canadians voted no.
The 1995 Quebec Referendum
- In 1995 the people of Quebec voted on the question of sovereignty.
- Jacques Parizeau, the premier, led the “Yes” forces in Quebec but the question was defeated by a narrow margin.
- The “No” side won by 51 per cent to 49 percent.
- There was shock in the rest of Canada but no immediate solution.
The Calgary Summit
- In September of 1997 nine provincial premiers proposed a constitutional amendment which would recognize Quebec’s “unique character.”
- This was received with considerable skepticism by the Parti Quebecois government of Lucien Bouchard.
The Supreme Court Ruling (20 August 1998)
- The federal government asked the Supreme Court three questions in 1996.
- 1. Can Quebec secede unilaterally from Canada under the constitution?
- 2. Does it have the right to secede unilaterally under international law?
- 3. If there is a conflict between Canadian and international law, which takes precedence?
The Constitutional Right to Secede
- “The Constitution (guarantees) order and stability, and accordingly secession of a province ‘under the Constitution’ could not be achieved unilaterally…”
- Negotiation with the other provinces within the terms of the constitution would be required for Quebec to secede.
International Law and the Right to Secede
- The court decided that the right to secede exists but not at the expense of the stability and integrity of Canada.
- Only if a people were colonized or oppressed would the court consider unilateral secession acceptable.
- This, clearly, does not apply to Quebec.
General Conclusions of the Supreme Court
- The court ruled that there was no conflict between Canadian and International law.
- The Supreme Court’s ruling was open to interpretation by both sides but offered little comfort to the separatist movement in Quebec. Quebec can hold another referendum on a “clear” question and if it wins this referendum Canada and Quebec must negotiate the terms of secession.
- Problems Associated with Quebec Separation
- What happens to the large French speaking population outside of Quebec?
- What happens to the anglophone population inside of Quebec?
- How do we divide the economic resources and the national debt of the country?
- How does the rest of Canada remain united?
Recent Changes in Quebec
- Some people think that the tide has turned against the Separatists.
- Immigration is reducing the influence of “pur laine” Quebecers – the chief supporters of separation.
- In the 1992 Quebec election, the Parti Quebecois was rejected.
- Jean Charest’s more federalist Liberals returned to power.
A Nation in a Nation?
- Liberal leadership candidates and a Conservative Prime Minister both supported public statements to this effect.
- In late 2006 a number of people suggested that the circle could be squared by declaring Quebec a nation within a nation.
- In a Parliamentary motion, only 16, including North Vancouver’s Don Bell, voted against the motion (21 were absent and 2 seats were vacant).
- Is anything really changed? What does this mean for Canadian nationhood?
- Constitutional debate in Canada continues and the question of national unity remains an unsolved problem.
- Quebec remains outside of the Canadian Constitution.
- The PQ government in Quebec does not intend to hold another referendum until they are assured of winning conditions.
- At the moment these conditions do not exist.