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Essay/Term paper: Quebec's quiet revolution: what is it? how has it changed quebec's society? how has it affected confederation?

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History Essays

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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

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

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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