Maitres Chez Nous: French Canadian Identity and the Quiet Revolution of 1960


“The gospel of resignation and the apologia of slavery were ripped up with an enthusiasm mixed with an obscure instinct for vengeance” –Pierre Vallieres[1]

“Why should nine provinces be made to change their attitudes and their way of life for the sake of one?” –Solange Chaput Rolland[2]

“I wonder if we are to be impressed with your tradition of literary censorship, or your educational system…I cannot honestly say I believe that we need your resources. You have lots of iron ore here, but so have we (Ontario) and so has much of the rest of Canada” –Douglas Fischer[3]


The parliamentary elections of 1960 in Quebec swept away the lingering conservatism of the World War II era and brought with it the rapid onset of the welfare state. Jean Lesage and the Liberal Party sought to get rid of what they considered the public’s dangerous attachment to nationalist thought by returning to the values of democracy and individual liberty instilled by the British North America Act of 1867. In doing this, Lesage and the new government took part in what analysts now call the “Quiet Revolution”, an upheaval of several decades of stagnant government dedicated to the purpose of maintaining isolation and nationalism during the World Wars. The Quiet Revolution is certainly not an anomaly in the history of Canadian politics; in fact, it fits well into the cycle of upheaval and settlement that has created the modern confederation that is called Canada. Quebec has failed to secede from the rest of its federated provinces despite great agitation since the British North America Act of 1867, even going back in a different form to the Treaty of Paris in 1763. My contention as to the failure of Quebec to gain independence from Canada is threefold. First, while Quebec is the byproduct of two centuries of anti-statist Catholicism, Anglicization swept away much of this discontent with the welfare state by the 1960s. As well, the welfare state created by the Quiet Revolution, along with the concessions of Ontario and other provinces to many of Quebec’s demands, has rendered secession an unnecessary step toward freedom for French Canadians. Finally, French Canadians in Quebec and other provinces have begun to consider themselves Canadian in their traditions and culture.

Three schools of thought prevail in recent literature on the issue of secession in Quebec. Writers like Stephane Dion and those who utilize public opinion polls and political resources analyze the failure of secession as a failure to find sufficient reason to leave a well-established democracy. Dion’s analyses look at the formation of organizations with brief successes along with the limited referenda successes of the Quebecois secessionists in order to show not only the failure of secession but also why it cannot be successful under current conditions[4].

In contrast, writers like Dominique Clift and Sheila Arnopoulos show a more positive outlook from the perspective of French Canadians. Clift and Arnopoulos present secession and sovereignty-association as having made headway inside the economic and political system rather than extralegal methods of achieving autonomy. These authors seem to prescribe maintenance of moderate political approaches in achieving the goal of sovereignty association and, later, independence from the other Canadian provinces[5]. The reason that such a solution may work is that nationalism and antinationalism at their most extreme are insufficient at both explaining Canadian politics and providing solutions to problems of political identity.

The third group that has participated in this dialogue is those who have actually participated in the secession movement, either as a proponent or an opponent. The proponents, including Pierre Vallieres and the writers of Our Generation, use strong language to get across the true nature of their movement to leave Canada and also to shake their fellow French Canadians from their perceived lethargy. In the more moderate position of this group is Marcel Chaput, who does advocate for Quebec’s independence but through a renewed Confederation, one that is true to the purpose of maintaining provincial sovereignty. Finally, there are writers like Guy Bertrand who actually had a hand in creating groups like the Parti Quebecois (PQ) but have turned the corner and do not see the purpose or the efficacy of secession. In this group would include writers like Joseph Carens and W. Stewart Wallace, who have covered the 20th century from the perspective of Anglophonic political values[6].

The French Canadian identity was not born in an instant during the 20th century. French explorations commissioned by the crown were undertaken throughout the 16th century, most notably Cartier and Roberval’s exploration of the St. Lawrence River between 1541-1543. Despite difficulties with the native peoples, as well as the typical issues of low supplies and inferior knowledge of the land, French explorers were able to maintain enough hold over their entry points into the “New World” to begin trade talks with the native groups living in what would be known as Montreal[7]. These initial incursions were to prove the mettle of the French in forging an existence in a harsh environment.

Several institutions that would endure three centuries of tumult were brought over to the New World by French explorers in further missions. The first institution established on the new soil was the fur trade and the rise of a significant economy for the French settlers. In comparison to native relations by fellow European exploratory groups, the French were rather amiable in dealing with the aboriginals of the St. Lawrence riverfront. They began to infiltrate Iroquoian and Algonquian communities near settlements, learning the language and establishing common trade ground with the natives[8]. This was none too surprising in retrospect, considering the Algonquian tribes had made significant strides in lingual and mathematic endeavors that were ready made for this type of situation.

The other two institutions were born of a common purpose by European explorers, that of conversion and missionary work. Missions by French Catholics were established further west from early settlements, allowing for greater contact with the native peoples and creating new points of development for the French crown. Catholicism was not the only side of assimilation in the New World; in many occasions, French explorers, soldiers, and settlers settled with native communities, raising families and developing racially heterogeneous areas[9].

Catholicism did not merely exist as a religious movement in the new land, passively accepting converts and long time parishioners. The missionaries and clergy that arrived from France proved to be the first major authority figures in French Canada, providing guidance in their natural ability to lead large groups of people. The final institution, seigneuralism, was born of this natural leadership and a need for established authority in an untamed territory. Seigneuralism was essentially the system of rural community, directed largely by Catholic clergy and missionaries, which existed not only as an economic outlet but also a governmental body. The seigneurs, or landowners, allowed settlers to farm small plots of land while providing a gristmill and an atmosphere of community centered on Church and market. The seigneur was paid dues, offered deference by his tenants (censitaire), and was respected by the growing colonial government[10]. Though the institution would die out in practice in the 1840s, seigneuralism lived on as the spirit of community for French Canadians and helped create the fault lines between the French and their New World conquerors, the British.

As the French and Indian War concluded in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris, with the conquering of Canada by the British Empire, the French in Canada and their allied native groups like the Pontiacs girded for political domination. What became obvious even before the handing over of Quebec to the British was that there was a distinctive French Canadian community that was intricately tied to this particular land. Considering the amount of time that had been given to establish long term institutions for French settlement, a substantial economic structure, and a relationship with Canadian aboriginals, it was no surprise that early on their would be rough times for the British government in their new colony. Resentment, frustration, and the outward expression of these two emotions would arise in the 19th century and would continue up to, and through, the Quiet Revolution.

British governor James Murray had a difficult task ahead of him. He could crush any possibilities of rebellion within the former French colony and, in doing so, any liberties provided prior to 1763. The other likely option was to allow the French free reign over their land, which would allow dissent and frustration to bubble over in the young British territory. Murray and his superiors in the Old World decided to use a forceful policy of assimilation to gain order in the colony. What the British underestimated was the fact that the 70,000 French settlers in North America had a distinctive culture from the British North Americans and even from the European French. This distinction would be born out of the lack of camaraderie between the Canadian French and the revolutionaries in Paris in 1789[11]. But at this point, the French saw their conquerors as greedy and oppressive rulers without care for the diversity of their empire.

This last statement would prove to change quickly with the rise of discontent in the other British North American territory, the thirteen colonies that would become the United States. As anger and resentment against England’s tightening grip over the North American economy grew in the colonies, the British colonial government in Canada saw the possibilities of French insurrection in the 1770s. Murray first loosened the ties on Catholicism amongst the French, allowing clergy to resume their roles as community leaders and to have stronger control over the seigneural system[12]. However, Murray and the British were able to choose the bishop representing the French in Canada, allowing British control over religion in French Canada. In 1774, the Quebec Act recognized this possibility and allowed the French to regain language rights and retain the original boundaries of Quebec. This boundary would provide a measure of where the French language and the culture would begin and end in Canada[13]. The British proved savvy early on in providing the French with concessions in order to keep them from rebelling, an example of how England would successfully deal with French Canadians through to the 20th century.

The line of demarcation between the French and British in Canada continued to grow in 1791, following both the loss of the British in the American Revolution and the bloody revolution in France. The Constitution Act of 1791 created two assemblies to govern over the colony, one for the British portion and one for the French portion (divided into British Upper and French Lower Canada). The issue that would prove to be major through the Union Act of 1840 was that the assembly was far more representative to Upper Canada than it was to Lower Canada. Compared to the rapidly growing French population, which numbered 70,000 in 1763, the English population was significantly lower at 60,000 in the same period. Also affecting these numbers was the relationship between the birthrate amongst French Canadians and English immigration policies. The French birthrate, which would be deemed “revenge of the cradle” in the early twentieth century, exceeded the amount of immigrants coming into Canada by significant amounts[14]. Therefore, with the representation being static at an equal amount between Upper and Lower Canada, the assembly was far more representative for the British than the French.

Developments from the end of the 18th century until 1837 fomented the growing pains of British colonialism in Canada. The Constitution Act of 1791 proved to be a sham, considering that while the assemblies were mostly proponents of tighter British rule and French nationalism, the executive branch of the government was always pro-British, as the Crown appointed these positions. Thus, the British were able to govern the economic and legal structures of the French Canadians. By 1837, over half of the seigneural lands were purchased by the British, a targeted campaign not only to sweep power away from the French but also to have stronger control over the profitable agricultural resources of Quebec. While the French were allowed to be censitaires on the seigneural lands and Catholic clergy were still significant as community leaders, the output and resources of this long lasting community structure were now in the hands of the British[15].

Along with economic and political discontent, there was a rise in the number of educated French Canadians at the beginning of the century. The opening of Canadian borders following the War of 1812 and the beginning of industrialization in the colony allowed more Europeans to come over, especially from the British Isles. Similarly, there was an increase in French immigration in the first two decades of the 19th century and by the time 1837 came, the educated French immigrants became leaders in communities and represented the francophone perspective to the British. The French Revolution and ideas of French nationalism and equality in particular influenced these leaders, establishing the Patriote movement in resistance to British oppression[16].

Lord Durham, the British governor during this time period, had to contend with all of these developments while being able to see ahead to what increased feelings of French nationalism might mean. Durham had suggested a plan for uniting Lower and Upper Canada as far back as 1822 to the British Parliament in an attempt to solidify control over Quebec. This idea was rejected in Parliament and the French community both in Quebec and Ontario were infuriated by the attempt to destroy French identity in Canada[17]. Durham constantly faced the possibility of reprisals by the French against the British community and was disappointed that Canada was “two nations warring within the bosom of a single nation.” Despite this disappointment, the British chose to deal with the problem of French nationalism by engaging in an economic takeover of seigneuralism while ignoring largely the French culture and social values[18]. This would prove to be a flash point for the Patriote movement and the French Canadian community far beyond the ensuing riots of 1837.

The riots of 1837 and 1838 can best be characterized as a confederation of singular political protestations under the banner of pushing out British capitalist structures from Canada. Some groups wanted to retake the seigneural system specifically, some wanted to strike back more generally against the British, and some even wanted to overhaul the French civil legal system. These divisions proved to be critical because organization of strikes and riots were roughshod and, lacking great leaders, inspiration for these acts of resistance was quickly suppressed by superior British armed forces[19]. As violence continued throughout Upper and Lower Canada, Lord Durham and his British military cohorts applied martial law in the form of the Riot Act. This allowed for military forces to control communities engaged in violence and suppressing rights and legal privileges for the duration of the conflict. The Riot Act was used at unprecedented levels in comparison to the other colonies of the British Empire, which showed the French Canadians the gravity of the situation[20].

The 1837 rebellion by these varied opponents of British capitalism was quashed by 1838, ending in the success of Lord Durham in maintaining British dominance and the resurrection of the Union Act. Durham saw the French as a people stuck on ancient concepts of social values and government, a direct attack on their Catholic background and their prior colonial experiences. The Union Act would not only prevent further violence like that of 1837; it would expedite the process of assimilation into the British Empire and solidify economic dominance. Durham’s pleas for the union of Upper and Lower Canada and the elimination of artificial barriers to unification were met with acceptance in 1840, with the act taking effect early in 1841[21].

It can be said that the rebellion by the Patriotes and other French fighters was counterproductive because prior to 1837 the French in Canada were largely ignored by the British Empire and by English Canadians. While this may be an indictment against the British, the French were certainly given concession by the colonial government, including representative government, freedom over language, and freedom to practice their religion in their communities. The French Canadians were a conquered people and to expect more than this from their rulers merely four decades after the new government was in place would have been folly. However, the assessment given above considering the success or failure of the rebellion is shortsighted. The French Canadians had a significant history in North America, had developed relationships with indigenous people, and had institutions geared toward long term development. To expect anything else from the Quebecois than their resistance to any move by the British Empire would be foolish[22].

The Union Act and the subsequent growth of industrialization in a unified Canada made possible discussions of a confederacy of Canadian provinces. The reason for Confederation was largely economic, as the need to create a unified Canadian transportation and trade network proved to be greater than what the Union Act could provide. The leaders of Quebec and Ontario, representing the two “races” of Canada, were much more amicable to each other than their predecessors in negotiation. Foreign competition, especially by the burgeoning capitalist power United States, proved to be a unifying fear by French and English leaders alike. The confluence of events that led to Confederation is quite amazing in retrospect, considering the animosity of the riots of only two decades earlier and the wide differences between English and French notions of the future of Canada[23].

The first real discussions of governmental rearrangement took place in 1857, largely in the form of articles in French and English language discussing the downsides of the Union Act. The most significant dialogue between Canada West (Quebec) and Canada East (Ontario) took place between 1864 and 1867. These discussions branched out to include New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the original Confederation, but Quebec Attorney General George Ettiene Cartier and British Prime Minister John MacDonald did the heavy lifting[24]. Cartier, by all accounts, was as pro-British as a French leader could be and was willing to bend back on some principles to make Confederation possible. MacDonald represented the solidly capitalist and assimilationist policy of the British and saw Confederation as a means to taking advantage of Quebec’s abundant resources. John MacDonald saw Cartier’s Anglophonic tendencies as an opportunity to strike a deal to make Ontario and the other British Canadian provinces superior economically to Quebec[25].

Several groups undertook the opposition to Confederation. French Catholic leaders saw this new political arrangement as detrimental to their authority in Quebec and also a fast track to the growth of urban centers. The strength of Catholicism in Quebec was its rural nature and with a growing exploitation of resources, urban-based industrial factories would overtake the farm and the seigneural system as the primary economic mover in Quebec[26]. Labor leaders, who became prevalent in the 1850s because of labor strikes, feared the loss of French civil rights and privileges in the province. As well, they feared the loss of income from Quebec because the British would have more of a hand in the production and output of lumber and marine trades[27]. Finally, the academic elites of the French classical colleges produced major critics of the Confederation plan. Largely, these members of the intelligentsia were harkening to French revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. They wanted the maintenance of the French identity and, like subsequent critics of Confederation, thought the French Canadians of Quebec could support themselves by utilizing their own natural resources and trade routes[28].

Above the opposition by French Catholic leaders, labor leaders, and a protesting intelligentsia, Cartier and MacDonald submitted their support to the British North America Act of 1867. The Act was passed through the assemblies in Quebec City and Ottawa and approved by the British Parliament, thereby allowing Canada to become a confederacy of provinces. The Confederation grew to accept the Northwest Territory and Manitoba in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, and Prince Edward Island in 1873[29].

The structure of this government was to allow a great deal of autonomy by the individual provinces, allowing control over most economic policies, immigration, and social legislation. The federal government at the inception of the British North America Act was to bring together the issues common to the provinces, most notably defense, transportation, and international trade issues. The federal parliament, located in Ottawa, solely had decision-making control over the larger issues, with the Governor General being a decorative position. The individual legislatures in each province had control over those issues appropriate to their level of influence, with the provincial Premier being the figurehead of provincial government. The fact that the capital of the Confederation was located in Ottawa was an obvious affront to the French, but considering the growing number of English speaking Canadians, along with the fact that only one province (Quebec) had a majority of francophones, Ottawa was the logical choice for Canadian parliament. This choice and the inclusion of more English-friendly provinces proved to be frustrating for the French but contributed to the future assimilation of French Canada into a united Canada[30].

As the Confederation expanded, it experienced growing pains that were parallel to those of the British conquest and early administration of French Canada in 1763. Adding Manitoba and the Northwest Territory in the 1870s brought up two paramount issues to the survival of this union. First, the question of whether French Canadians would flock to newly opened territories and establish French satellite settlements far from Quebec was to be answered over the next three decades. The other question, which pointed out the significant cultural differences between the French community and the rest of Canada, was the Manitoba school crisis of 1890. The answer to these questions would show the mettle of the French Canadian community but also the overwhelming odds that the French identity faced in the 19th century.

The newly opened western lands of Canada had been explored sparsely by the first French settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries, but French colonialism was centered on establishing bases of operation around natural resource centers. The St. Lawrence River and its outlet to the Atlantic was too tempting a resource to leave with minimal support. As the British took Quebec and the French land rights to the rest of modern Canada, they saw a wide expanse of untapped raw materials that could be used to keep the Empire prosperous. The French Canadian identity became tied to their ethnic center, Quebec and the St. Lawrence, making resettlement outside of Montreal and Quebec City almost traitorous to the community and painful for the individual. This contributed to the general lack of interest in expansion to the new territories[31].

Despite the overwhelming numbers of English migrants to take advantage of the frontier lands, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories accepted both English and French cultures and adopted policies of bilingualism. The Manitoba Act of 1870 made it illegal for the provincial legislature to take any stance or adopt any policy in favor of either French or English.  This was meant to not only placate the French Canadians concerned over English dominance in the western provinces, but also to attract settlers from Quebec. Equal linguistic rights and the ability to attend schools of their choice was not sufficient incentive for many French Canadians because they could get the same rights and privileges in Quebec with the comforts of home[32].

In 1890, however, the French community in Canada was mobilized to political action in regards to the West. English Protestant settlers were disturbed by the influence of French Catholics on the process of education, especially considering the small amounts of French Canadians living in Manitoba. Based on this, representatives from the province presented a revision to the Manitoba Act in 1890 that would limit Catholic education and limit French language rights in settlement communities[33]. The protests of Catholics in Quebec as well as Manitoba allowed the issue to explode in the province and throughout Canada.

In 1896, as the Conservative party was removed from power, Liberal Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier worked to reform the new Manitoba Act of 1890 instead of having the law repealed. In short, the reformed act would allow proportional representation by Catholics and Protestants in administration of schools, as well as more reasonable limits to where French was taught and revising the new Department of Education to be more sympathetic to both French and English students and teachers[34]. The Manitoba school issue showed the accommodations that the English and pro-English Quebeckers were willing to give to French Catholics. It was also a sign of the Canadian unity that the British North America Act had intended for, with the recognition by provinces of each other’s distinct provincial cultures but also cognizant of a Canadian identity. The Manitoba Act was not the first such accommodation and recognition of Canadian identity, but it was the first such issue outside of the Quebec-Ontario duality.

Significant political changes occurred in Quebec in 1896, allowing the rise of an industrial state and wholesale acceptance of British capitalist structures. The Liberal Party defeated the Conservative Party in provincial elections, sweeping away what many thought was a stagnating political ideal of the countryside and the Catholic Church as the keys to the province. The Liberal Party would rule for forty years and opened the way for the opening of Quebec’s economy to foreign influence and to secularization of the economy at home. This was truly the distinction between Liberals and Conservatives in Quebec and in Canada general; the Liberals were the party of industrialists and the Conservatives were the party of the farmer and the laborer[35].

The Liberal party became synonymous in the 1920s with L.A. Taschereau’s administration, which saw the finalization of a great deal of industrial works. In 1900, the number of people who lived in the cities numbered less than 40 percent. In contrast, 1930 showed a majority of people living in the cities, numbering somewhere around 61 percent[36]. Taschereau’s Liberal agenda was three fold: first, the administration focused on private business and the monopolization of public utilities; second, continued urbanization was saw as key to the economy, considering the factories and businesses were taken from small rural communities; and finally, the exploitation of resources by both domestic and foreign powers was seen as vital to Quebec’s survival[37]. This proved to be a fatal campaign for Liberals, whose program failed to remedy problems in the Depression and also sold many of the ideals of French Canadians down the St. Lawrence River.

The main opposition to the Liberal Party in Quebec was Action Francaise, an organization largely fighting to return to the French Canadian ideal of Quebec as rural Catholic in nature. Social activist Lionel Groulx was the organizer of this group, galvanizing Quebecois around the ideas of anti-industrialism and anti-Americanism, complimenting the constant nationalist feeling of French Canadians. Formed in 1920, it faded into the new group Action Nationale in 1929 and promoted the ideals of French nationalism in Canada by pushing against conscription during WWI[38]. The agenda of this group in its different incarnations was to restore French Canadian traditions like the role of Catholic clergy in government, the return to the rural landscape, and closing the borders to outsiders except those of French descent[39]. This frustration threatened to foment more fears after the worldwide depression of 1929 until a new government was elected in the midst of catastrophe in the economy.

Maurice Duplessis rose through the ranks of Quebec politics, first as a parliamentarian and then as the two-time premier of the province. In 1935, Maurice Duplessis banded together with members of the Action Nationale and members of the Conservative party to form the Union Nationale. The Union was to be an opposition party to the Liberals as well as the Conservatives and provide the people of Quebec the ability to exercise political inclinations that Duplessis felt were prevalent at the time. Duplessis shared creation of the party with Paul Gouin, leader of the Action Nationale and grandson of former Premier Gouin of Quebec[40]. The two agreed to an agenda for the Union Nationale that would include reforms in agriculture, labor, industry, and governmental responsibility for elections. This agenda would differ vastly from the widely known complacency and rampant corruption of the Taschereau government and force the Conservative Party to step up to its responsibilities or be extinguished[41].

Duplessis and Gouin advocated for the primacy of agricultural reforms, including rural electrification (similar to that of the United States during this time), low interest rate banking for farmers, and price guarantees to preserve the existence of the farmlands. Labor was next in importance, with the Union reform plan seeking to improve minimum wage and industrial hygiene issues in order to improve the quality of life for laborers. The breaking down of industrial trusts and the public ownership of utilities was seen as a serious first step by the Union Nationale in order to achieve the goals of the labor movement and make industry more effective. Finally, Duplessis especially wanted to eliminate the growing bureaucracy of the provincial government by downsizing government institutions and also to eliminate conflicts of interest in representation by forcing parliamentarians to sell stocks in companies before their terms began[42]. The promise of these reforms, however, was left by the wayside with the onset of World War II and the revelation of Duplessis’ true inner politics.

Maurice Duplessis’ two administrations would prove to be the death knell of a long period of popular French nationalism. Instead of fulfilling the promises of an immense and popular reform plan, Duplessis reverted to primal instincts of protection, isolation, and resentment to push against English-Canadian culture. World War II broke out and the loyalty of Canada at large to Great Britain required it to involve itself militarily. Rekindling the debate between Quebec and Ontario over conscription in WWI, members of the Union Nationale rejected the idea of plucking French Canadians for service in a war that they did not feel need to be involved in immediately. It must be remembered that aside from the academic elites and some political leaders, most French Canadians had a distinct identity from their European homeland and did not feel the same kinship as the English Canadians to Europe.

Duplessis took advantage of this by using rhetoric of nationalism that bordered on fascism, popular amongst small factions in Quebec and throughout Canada before the atrocities of the war in Europe were discovered[43]. In general, the Union Nationale’s use of language became less effective following the loss of Duplessis in 1939 and his reelection in 1944. The war’s end, the realization that Catholics were part of the persecutions in Europe, and the need for a government focused on domestic issues with postwar economy required new leadership. The problem was neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives were able to establish a good set of ideals or have a powerful leader like Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis used a toned down version of provincial autonomy in his second election while also touting the results of his first campaign, specifically against an unpopular conscription drive. This led to his reelection in 1944 as premier, replacing Adelard Godbout and the clean but largely ineffective government of the Liberal party[44].

Maurice Duplessis’ second term, lasting until 1959 with his death, focused unfortunately on domestic issues that he was ill equipped to deal with. Returning to the promises of the Union Nationale reform circular, Duplessis worked on attempting electoral reform and labor mediation. The party had built up a substantial nest egg of campaign money from sources in private industry and in the Catholic Church, allowing the party to maintain strength amongst the public and work against the opposition parties. These two sources of revenue were very important to understanding Duplessis’ original support in Quebec: the Catholic Church and private industry both favored the government’s Padlock Act and anti-communist stances, popular amongst some conservative labor unions[45].

Patronage was rampant in the Duplessis administration, which ran counter to the electoral reforms promised in 1935 but managed to keep alive the Union Nationale for almost two decades. By promising jobs for votes, Duplessis not only maintained his own power but he also went against his promise to cut down the provincial government bureaucracy[46]. In two of his important reform areas, Maurice Duplessis had failed to use the support he enjoyed to achieve results and went counter to what his party had originally intended.

The examples above and many more can be given to show the failure of Union Nationale do much to fulfill their mission in office and all of the evidence can be used to show the success of isolationism and fear mongering by Duplessisism. Three groups saw the deeds of their government as misguided and Duplessis as a dangerous individual who needed to be removed from power. One such group was the radical nationalists, who did indeed share the spirit of Duplessis’ nationalism but also wanted radical reorganization of economic and social structures in Quebec[47]. Another group was the trade unions, which organized in the 1950s as the Quebec Federation of Labor (QFL) and started to project a singular agenda. The success of Duplessis’ prior labor practices were his use of powerful political networks to force through pro-industry legislation as well as his ability to play unions off against each other in order to keep them busy and disorganized[48].

The third group, and probably the most powerful in destroying the Union Nationale, was the Catholic Church. The Church, once a major ally of the party, turned quickly against Duplessis because of what clergy deemed “political immorality”. The Church became friendlier to labor movements following WWII and saw the Union Nationale as detrimental to the growth of the province. Clergy and other French Catholics also saw Duplessis as a traitor to the traditions of the province, as he turned away from the approved reform plan and went forward with ultraconservative policies that did not favor the most important French Catholics[49]. This traitorous activity by Duplessis would prove to be his undoing; before his death, the party had been on the decline and the burgeoning Liberal gains that would lead to the Quiet Revolution were beginning to materialize.

Maurice Duplessis’ death on September 7, 1959 spelled the end of Union Nationale as a nationalist reactionary force in Quebec[50]. Duplessis, for all of his bluster and dangerous ideas, did bring together a great deal of constituencies in Quebec politics. His protests against conscription and involvement in the Second World War were met with cheers by French Canadians who wanted to assert their identity against foreign concerns. The man made the party and Duplessis’ untimely passing brought this chapter of success to an end for the party. His successors, Paul Sauvé and Antonio Barrette, tried to change the Union Nationale in order to compete with the increasing popularity of Liberal party politics. They attempted vigorously to rid Quebec politics of patronage but Sauvé’s death only months after his accession and Barrette’s ineffectual administration could not save the quickly sinking nationalist party[51].

The strike of Radio Canada in December 1958 was another example of the changing times in Quebec. Radio Canada was at odds with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), who would not let Radio Canada employees unionize or bargain collectively. The strike would drag on until March of 1959, with an uncertain decision that seemed to favor the CBC and its control over Canadian media. The smaller branch of the media corporation, Radio Canada, failed to push against large bureaucratic structures exemplified by the CBC. Labor unions, which had made strides in the 1950s against the Union Nationale, were not being allowed to function at their potential level[52]. The public would start to become more familiar with this pattern and become more accepting of bureaucracy and federal unity with the Quiet Revolution.

The actual numbers in the June 1960 provincial elections do not bear out the sea change that was made in the legislature and in Quebec City. The Liberals won 51 percent of the vote for the premiership, while the Union Nationale garnered 47 percent, mostly based on large rural turnouts and the fears of a Taschereau style reprisal against all things French Canadian. The Liberals also took 34 seats from the Union Nationale and Independent parties, to put up significant numbers in the legislature and a mandate for Premier Jean Lesage[53]. The Union Nationale did not suffer numerical defeats, but they had lost control a year prior to the elections and the call for modernization and new government were symbolic of a new era in Quebec.

The goals of the new Liberal administration were threefold: a new economic direction, adapting social structures to dynamic cultural values, and the acceptance of the global market as fact. The new economic direction put forth by Jean Lesage and his allies in the legislature was a mixture of capitalist goals and public ownership. The epitome of this plan was the aggressive action taken by Quebec’s government to nationalize the hydroelectric industry under the newly created Hydro Quebec. This provincial authority would manage the extremely profitable hydroelectric resources of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries, bringing eleven separate industrial leaders under one umbrella organization. What sounded like a socialist governmental shift was in actuality merely an increase in governmental oversight and insurance for the industry[54]. This change would allow the province to have a greater hand in regulating prices and ensuring quality, but would allow profit and trade to remain roughly the same as before the 1960s.

This one particular industry was certainly not an aberration in the “revolutionary” period of Quebec. In 1962, the Liberal legislature, with Lesage’s approval, created the Quebec Economic Advisory Council. This council would review the economic environment of the province, assess the efficiency of industries like hydroelectric and lumber, and then implement government planning processes to make the economy more effective. The term used by many authors for this plan was “indicative planning”, which implies a more deliberate, moderate process of implementing provincial oversight into previously unfettered businesses[55].

This organization was years behind in its inception with respect to the English Canadian provinces, which in various forms has placed controls over economic variables since the worldwide depression of the 1930s. Along with the council’s recommendations, the provincial government went ahead with plans to extend the income tax to the lower levels of wages and created a 6 percent sales tax. This plan was criticized by many rural workers and the lower class as excessive and damaging to French Canadian traditional livelihood[56].  Lesage and the Liberals wanted to make Quebec’ economy congruent with the rest of Canada and to bring the vast resources of the province to a more modern industrial community.

The Tremblay Commission of 1956 was brought together to assess the overall situation of French Canadian identity and social structures in the 20th century. The report by this commission stated that there existed a serious disconnect between those structures in effect to 1956, including classical colleges, patronage, and economic isolation, and the values of the French Canadian population in the province. The solution prescribed by the commission was to dull the importance of Catholic education by rationalizing the school system and introducing variant education. This type of education, which had been the English style of education in Canada since the Conquest, was meant to be fairer to individuals within the system, as opposed to one universal program of curriculum[57]. This would all be accomplished with Bill 60 in 1964, which created the first ever Ministry of Education for the province. The mission of this ministry was to secularize the educational system by using new elements of government review and oversight to rationalize curricula and school functions[58]. Education was the key first step by Liberals to enact their welfare state, providing the information for a new generation to grow into their new role as modern Canadians[59].

The final pillar of the Liberal revolution in Quebec was the acceptance of the world market and immigration as reality. This acceptance would lead to policies relating to increased immigration, interconnected federal and provincial planning, and attempts to come to terms with bilingual and bicultural issues. The Liberal sentiment toward immigration was that it was acceptable in an economic sense, but there was a fear of cultural fragmentation in Quebec. With many different cultures flooding into Montreal and Quebec City, the powers in government exacted immigration policies rivaling those of their companions in Ottawa. In the early 1960s, an immigrant entering Quebec was to learn the history and language of their new land in order to be accepted in French Canadian culture in the province. Despite the rationalization of education policies, classes were taught in many cases in French and French Canadian history was expected as common knowledge among students. These policies would manifest later with the 1976 language bill (Bill 101), but what can be said is that the Liberal stance on immigration was in hauntingly symmetrical with English Canadian perceptions of how immigrants should enter a nation[60].

Having spoken about the Quebec Economic Advisory Council prior to this, it is important to know that while both Ontario and Quebec now had advisory councils, they were not entirely on the same page. The Ontario council was better established and was more effective in its recommendations early on, while the Quebec council sometimes struggled with an unrelenting tradition of laissez faire in French Canada. These two councils and their respective nations would come together, however, with the findings of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in December 1967.

The Royal Commission was established shortly after the election of Lester Pearson as Canadian prime minister in 1963. As part of his pledge for a “New Deal” for French Canada, Pearson appointed ten French Canadians to his cabinet, allowed for greater autonomy for Quebec’s government in dealing with finances, and pledged to reconsider the Canadian flag to be more representative of the two “races”. Pearson stated that, “Quebec must be Quebec in Canada,” implying that Quebec should maintain its separate identity as part of the Canadian federated system[61].

The B&B commission, as it was referred to, made several recommendations to the federal government and respective provincial governments. First, the report stated that the federal government needed to recognize French and English as official languages of Canada and provide services in both languages. Another recommendation was to have each province recognize languages of minorities that exceeded 10 percent of the population, homage to the French minority in western provinces as well as to expanded immigration. The commission, most notably, asked that each of the other provinces outside of Quebec adopt French as an equal language and provide services equal to the needs of the French populations in those provinces[62]. The report was important in helping bridge the gap between provincial and federal government and was significant in showing the turn that Quebec was making in its relations with the rest of Canada, as Union Nationale premier Daniel Johnson and others deemed the report favorable in 1967.

All of these changes made by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage were not met with complete satisfaction. Only a decade earlier, the rural tradition of French Canada and the conservative nationalism of the Union Nationale had brought Quebec back to its roots. The Quiet Revolution was not just quiet because of its bloodlessness but also due to its paradoxical attempt to subtly bring drastic change. With the snap of a finger, Jean Lesage and the Quebec Liberals could not bring together all of the factions that had sunk past administrations. Three groups epitomized the differing levels of opposition to the Quiet Revolution: the Rassemblement pour L’Independence Nationale (RIN), the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ), and the renewed Union Nationale of 1966.

The RIN was established in 1961, under the leadership of Marcel Chaput, a former scientist for the Canadian federal government. Chaput wrote a treatise on the RIN perspective called Why I Am a Separatist in 1961, on the heels of the Liberal Party’s successes. Chaput stated in this work that the Canadian arrangement of federation, especially considering the French and English tensions in Canadian culture, was not satisfactory to the dignity of the French Canadian population. Chaput traced back the origins of the French Canadian culture on the continent and the Conquest of the British Empire in 1763. Largely, however, Chaput discusses the indignities of living as a French Canadian in an Anglophonic country, forced to speak a foreign language and provides an outline of his solution to what he perceived as major problems[63].

Chaput advocated for a sensible approach to separatism and outlined the six dimensions of Canadian separatism. Historically, Chaput stated that the British North America Act never represented free choice but the swallowing of one nation by another. The political boundaries of Quebec were not as nebulous as the British Canadians had assumed, but rather a historically defined area of deep-rooted culture[64]. The economics of separatism dictated that since Quebec workers were misrepresented in the Canadian work force and few Quebecois were at the top levels of government, they must organize to push for separatism[65]. Chaput goes at length about French cultural dimensions, but the most important point that he made was that the French Canadian community needed to establish a connection with French communities throughout the world. Chaput urged for not only the independence of Quebec from the bogus confederation but for the networking of French communities throughout the world[66].

Chaput left the ultimatum to his followers and to readers: Quebec could remain a minority in a large country or they could become the majority of a small country. The Canadian federal constitution does not allow for the separation of provinces from the federation without unanimous consent, but Chaput stated that, “…since when does the text of a constitution attest all the rights of men and nations?” This point is integral to the agitation that Chaput wanted to promote[67]. The Quebecois, the French Canadian community, would not stand for second-class status. They needed change to maintain the dignity of their traditions and to guarantee the survival of French Canadian history[68].

The RIN represented the beginning of post-Quiet Revolution separatism but did not go far enough for a small group of Quebecois. The FLQ was established in 1963, led by radical French Canadians like Pierre Vallieres who wanted to not only separate from the rest of Canada but exact vengeance for the squalor many industrial workers went through. The FLQ was an offshoot of the RIN, with some of its members and middle level leaders leaving because the push against the Quiet Revolution was not proceeding fast enough. Violent attacks by the frontline members of FLQ began in 1963, with random attacks on individual British targets in Quebec along with attacks on individual officials[69]. In October of 1970, two separate incidents occurred which drove a deep chasm between the FLQ and those who were more moderate about Quebec’s independence. FLQ members kidnapped British attaché James Cross and murdered labor minister Pierre Lapotte as responses to what were perceived as threats to French Canadian identity and cozying of French leaders to the British Canadian government[70].

French and English Canadian officials condemned these attacks vehemently, showing the unity of the two sides against any hurtles to Canadian unity. Pierre Trudeau, in 1961, stated that the violence and the rhetoric of separatism were irrational because the British North America Act of 1867 solved many of the problems of racial division. He felt that the separatists “…despair of ever being able to convince the public of the rightness of their ideas…” and were trying to incite violence to gain power over the majority[71]. Leslie Roberts, a writer for the Montreal Star, wrote in May 1964 that secession talk and violence by the FLQ would lead to a flight of capital from the province[72]. Douglas Fischer, a British Canadian parliamentarian, stated that he thought the French Canadians needed Ontario and the other provinces more than the other way around. Fischer’s reasoning was that while Quebec had many resources, the rest of Canada had much more and did not have a tradition of “literary censorship” or backwards educational values[73]. The violence had brought out not the strength of separatism but the strength of Canadian unity in its greatest form to point.

The Liberal Party’s success at the provincial level faded not too distant from its early successes in legislation. In 1966, Daniel Johnson led a slate of successful Union Nationale candidates to electoral victory over Jean Lesage and his Liberal counterparts in the Quebec provincial elections. While the Union Nationale hung in as the opposition party to the Liberals through the early 1960s, the reincarnation of Duplessis’ party was a painful sight to behold for diehard party members. Johnson was an ambivalent sort of leader, guiding his party through liberal and conservative policies with the changing tide of public opinion. The Union Nationale party only provided reassurance to rural citizens of Quebec, who had problems with the massive bureaucracy and overwhelming taxation of Quebec citizens. These rural voters, along with a growing number of various frustrated special interests, turned the tides in favor of the Union Nationale. However, the party was only an opposition party in name; the Quiet Revolution was not overturned in the period of new Union Nationale government and the bureaucratic machinery was maintained for the success of the Parti Quebecois in 1976[74].

Despite the several branches of opposition to the Quiet Revolution, the new sense of unity with Ontario’s ideals showed the success of the Liberal agenda in making Quebec a more Canadian province. This distinction was frustrating to some in the French population of Quebec, as well as small numbers outside of the province, but the majority approved of Quebec’s maintenance of their position in the Canadian federation. As well, those outside of the province in places like Manitoba and Saskatchewan decried the complaints of the French Canadians, asking why nine provinces should accommodate one and why they should proceed so fast with something so drastic[75]. Several results of the Quiet Revolution have led to the calm nature of Canadian politics in 2004 and the decrease in secession talk.

First, the threat of secession and the rise of violence following the Quiet Revolution drove French Canadians away from many of the groups who seemed to promote the values of Quebecois. Those who fled from these secessionist groups were worried that to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world, French Canadian values would be associated with violence and impudence. Because of this exodus, the move for independence in most forms became much more acute in size and fragmented into broader interpretations of what would encompass independence. These interpretations included Rene Levesque’s idea of sovereignty association[76], the idea of a new popular confederation, and federal legislation to give Quebec more control over economics. Despite the call of Charles de Gaulle in 1967 of “Vive le Quebec libre[77], this statement became less important to French Canadians concerned with becoming global citizens.

The second result of the Quiet Revolution was the acceptance of interconnected provincial and federal planning and the adoption by Quebec of traditionally Anglophonic policies. Secular tendencies in education, government, and economy had been characteristics of the British Canadian provinces since the Conquest. The Quiet Revolution swept away the last vestiges of French Catholic authority in government and established a rationalized education and economic authority. Individual rights had been the clarion call for British Canadian leaders, while collective rights were far more important to the French population and were important their legal code. As the British North American Act came about, the influence of British common law on Quebec became integral to the pressures between English and French for the next century. In the end, like many other policies and values, the French Canadians yielded to British Canadians by adopting similar legal codes and striving for federal unity.

Finally, the issue of bilingualism and biculturalism were addressed with the Quiet Revolution. The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism established the tone for a new policy of acceptance among English and French Canadian citizens by imploring provinces to officially accept both languages. The commission’s findings were evidently reflective of the general population, who were more willing to accept both languages than to engage in cultural conflict. Bumps in the road were inevitable and the language bill in 1976 (Bill 101) showed that the fault lines were still in existence between both sets of leaders. This particular bill guaranteed the primacy of the French language in Quebec by making French the official language of government in the province. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, struck this down in a series of decisions in the early 1980s, guaranteeing the mandate of bilingualism of the 1960s. The increase of immigration into Quebec and into Canada as a whole has made dealing with cultural and language issues paramount to the success of any provincial and federal government.

Throughout its history, Quebec has attempted in various forms to hold onto its French Canadian identity. With the British Conquest of the early 1760s, Quebec faced the challenge of a foreign threat making the French a conquered people. Resistance came in its biggest form in 1837 with the series of riots against British economic domination. The dramatic failure of this revolt led to the refining of French Canadian demands by 1867. With the act of confederation, the new issues between French and English were not issues of which of the two cultures would be successful in class warfare but over how to deal with a bicultural environment within one nation. The Quiet Revolution went away from the traditional French Canadian characteristics of rural Catholicism to deal with issues of the modern world. New challenges of the world market, immigration, and how best to govern within the confines of federal/provincial relations became the concern of leaders in Quebec, Ontario, and throughout Canada.

The Quiet Revolution was the final success of Quebec’s assimilation into the British Canadian schema, with French Canadian leaders yielding to the overwhelming tide of capitalism and secularization[78]. With the failure of a 1980 referendum of sovereignty association, along with the failure of a similar referendum in 1995, Quebec has stated in no uncertain terms that they do not want to leave the rest of Canada[79]. The Quiet Revolution brought about this acceptance of Quebec’s role in Canada and embraced the new multicultural environment of one united nation. The calm sea of modern Canadian unity has come from a short history of conflict and conciliation fought on battlefields such as the conference table and the newspaper editorial.

[1] Pierre Vallieres, White Niggers of America  (London: Monthly Review Press, 1971) 42.

[2] Solange Chaput Rolland, My Country: Canada or Quebec? (Toronto: MacMillan of Canada, 1966) 87.

[3] Richard Dalton Basham, Crisis in Blanc and White: Urbanization and Ethnic Identity in French Canada (Cambridge, Schenkman Publishing Company, 1978) 145-46.

[4] Examples are Stephane Dion, “The Quebec Challenge to Canadian Unity” PS: Political Science and Politics Vol. 26, No. 1 (March 1993) 38-43; Stephane Dion, “Why is Secession Difficult in Well-Established Democracies? Lessons from Quebec” British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 26 No. 2 (April 1996) 269-83.

[5] Sheila McLeod Arnopoulos and Dominique Clift, The English Fact in Quebec (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1980); Dominique Clift, Quebec Nationalism in Crisis (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1980).

[6] Pierre Vallieres, White Nigger of America; Guy Bertrand, Enough is Enough: An Attorney’s Struggle for Democracy in Quebec (Toronto: ECW Press, 1996); Marcel Chaput, Why I Am a Separatist (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1961); W. Stewart Wallace, The Growth of Canadian National Feeling (Toronto: MacMillan Co., 1927).

[7] John Dickinson and Brian Young, “A Short History of Quebec” 2nd Ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000) 16.

[8] Dickinson and Young, 22

[9] Ibid. 21

[10] Sheila McLeod Arnopoulos and Dominique Clift, The English Fact in Quebec (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1980) 31-34.

[11] Andre Siegfried, The Race Question in Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966) 14-15.

[12] Dickinson and Young, 51.

[13] Dickinson and Young, 55; Arnopoulos and Clift, 20.

[14] Dickinson and Young, 54; Siegfried, 14.

[15] Arnopoulos and Clift, 26-27.

[16] The Patriote movement eventually would be absorbed by the English bourgeoisie after the 1837 rebellion, as a means to gain a foothold into the middle class of French Canadians; Dickinson and Young 160-162.

[17] Dickinson and Young, 160.

[18] Arnopoulos and Clift, 23.

[19] Ibid, 16.

[20] Dickinson and Young, 163.

[21] Dickinson and Young, 181.

[22] To see further discussion of this particular issue, Andre Siegfried’s work is fairly balanced on views of both British and French thinkers in Canada. Also, Marcel Rioux’s Quebec in Question provides a strongly pro-Quebec view of the Conquest of Canada by England, which to him created multilateral cultural tensions.

[23] W. Stewart Wallace, The Growth of Canadian National Feeling (Toronto: MacMillan Co., 1927) 23.

[24] W. Stewart Wallace, 22; Siegfried, 107; A.I. Silver’s The French Canadian Idea of Confederation: 1864-1900 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982) 2nd Chapter gives a great discussion of the origins of Confederation. Dickinson and Young, 187-189; W. Stewart Wallace, 25-26.

[25]Wallace, 33 and 36; Herbert Quinn, The Union Nationale: A Study in Quebec Nationalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963) 20-21.

[26] Stanley Ryerson, French Canada: A Study in Canadian Democracy (New York: International Publishers, 1943) 89.

[27] Dickinson and Young, 188.

[28] Quinn, 5 and 6.

[29] Siegfried, 108.

[30] Siegfried, 110-111

[31] Silver, 117 and 132.

[32] Silver, 137 and 145.

[33] Siegfried, 72; Silver 97 and 186.

[34] Siegfried, 74; Silver, 217.

[35] Quinn, 23-24; Siegfried, 148.

[36] Dickinson and Young, 200.

[37] Quinn, 31 and 32.

[38]Susan Mann Trofimenkoff, Action Francaise: French Canadian nationalism in the Twenties (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1975) 112-113; Dickinson and Young, 286.

[39] Trofimenkoff, 40-42.

[40] Quinn, 53.

[41] Quinn, 69.

[42] Quinn, 58-60.

[43] Later commentators noted the disturbing comparisons of rhetoric between Duplessis and German and Italian fascists. See Charles and Cynthia Hou, Great Canadian Political Cartoons 1915-45 (Vancouver: Moody’s Lookout Press, 2002) 133 and 164.

[44] Dickinson and Young, 281; Quinn, 81; Hou, 164.

[45] The Padlock Act was passed in 1938, seeking to end communist gatherings in Quebec by forbidding any meetings that included suspected communists or revolutionaries. The issue with this law was that it took liberties with the idea of who was communist, including many moderate and liberal social activists. This parallels well with McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the early 1950s. See Hou, 171; Quinn, 126.

[46] Quinn, 135.

[47] Quinn, 153.

[48] Quinn, 157.

[49] Quinn, 160.

[50] Marcel Rioux, Quebec in Question (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company Publishers, 1978) 74.

[51] Donald Riseborough, editor Canada and the French (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1975) 10.

[52] Basham, 141.

[53] Riseborough, 11.

[54] William D. Coleman, The Independence Movement in Quebec: 1945-1980 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984) 261.

[55] Thomas Sloan, Quebec: The Not-so-Quiet Revolution (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1965).

[56] Sloan, 17.

[57] Coleman, 83. This is certainly one proof of the idea that French Canadians had turned their noses at purely collective rights and had accepted individual rights similar to that of the English common law system.

[58] Daniel Drache, editor Quebec-Only the Beginning: The Manifestoes of the Common Front (Toronto: Studies Quebec, 1972) 112.

[59] The report stated that the solution was to, “…restructure the institutions serving French Canadian society so that all reflect the traditional values of French Canadian culture.” William Coleman, The Independence Movement in Quebec: 1945-1980 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984) 83.

[60] In reference to immigration, there are two divisions to note: The pre-Quiet Revolution era and post-Quiet Revolution era. Joseph Carens discusses both in his work, Is Quebec Nationalism Just? Perspectives from Anglophone Canada (Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995) 21 and 38-39. Bill 101 is discussed in Stephane Dion’s article, “The Quebec Challenge to Canadian Unity” PS: Political Science and Politics Vol. 26 No. 1 (March 1993) 40.

[61] Riseborough, 27 and 30.

[62] Riseborough, 46.

[63] Marcel Chaput, Why I am a Separatist Translated by Robert A. Taylor (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1961) 1.

[64] Chaput, 3.

[65] Chaput 13.

[66] Chaput 22.

[67] Chaput, 54.

[68] Chaput mentions in his treatise that he would consider a true confederation, with the approval of the Canadian public, to be an acceptable stepping stone to independence. His main contention against Confederation was that it was not a publicly granted organization of provinces, but an arbitrary process by leaders of Ontario and Quebec to improve economic stakes. Chaput, 33.

[69] Basham, 150 and Riseborough, 17.

[70] Clift, 96.

[71] Riseborough, 14 and 15.

[72] Riseborough, 16.

[73] Basham, 145.

[74] Raymond N. Morris and C. Michael Lanphier, Three Scales of Inequality: Perspectives on French-English Relations  (Don Mills: Longman Canada Limited, 1977) 164.

[75] Rolland, 81 and 87.

[76] Levesque’s proposals for sovereignty association came in two stages: those that guarantee the sovereignty of Quebec and those that associate the province with Canada. The sovereignty of Quebec would be guaranteed by allowing full tax sovereignty, full control over social policies, and full financial control over the vast resources of the province. The association of Quebec with the rest of its fellow provinces would be guaranteed by free trade between the provinces, the free travel of people between provinces, the joining of Quebec with other nations in a St. Lawrence maritime community, as well as a common currency and a common military defense treaty. Jane Jacobs, The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty, (New York: Random House, 1980) 93, 96-7.

[77] Riseborough, 85.

[78] This idea has been proven with the vast array of public polling since the 1970s that has revealed perceptions of Quebec’s relation to the rest of Canada. In 1968, 9 percent of Quebec citizens favored independence of some form, while 91 percent were either against it or on the fence. Lawrence LeDuc, “Canadian Attitudes toward Quebec Independence” The Public Opinion Quarterly Vol. 41 No. 3 (Autumn 1977) 347.

[79] The 1980 referendum vote was 40.5 percent in favor of sovereignty association, 59.5 percent against. The 1995 referendum vote was closer, with 49.4 percent of voters in favor of independence, 50.6 percent opposed. The key to the failure of the 1995 referendum vote was the large negative vote of Montreal, which has become a metropolis of multicultural communities that do not favor a shakeup of the Canadian government. Leo Dridger, Multi-Ethnic Canada: Identities and Inequalities, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

One thought on “Maitres Chez Nous: French Canadian Identity and the Quiet Revolution of 1960

  1. I’m intrigued about the possibility that the 17th C folk song “Bonhomme” may have influenced the slogan “Maîtres chez nous,” because the chorus of that song repeats “you are not masters in your own house when we are there.” That clearly has nothing to do with whether or not the bonhomme can play a musical instrument. Do you know the origin of that line in the song? Who are the “we” whose presence keeps the bonhomme from being master of his own house?

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