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Canada and Quebec 1960 to 1995

A look at the issues surrounding Canada and Quebec from 1980 to 1995

Chris Finnie

on 2 June 2018

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Transcript of Canada and Quebec 1960 to 1995

Quebec and Canada:
1960 to 1995

Referendum in Quebec: 1980
Parti Quebecois under the leadership of Rene Levesque came to power in Quebec in 1976.
Levesque wanted independence for Quebec with economic ties to Canada.
A referendum was held in 1980 to see if Quebecers wanted to separate.
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.
Francophones: Oui 60% Non 40%
Anglophones: Oui 9% Non 91%
Immigrants: Oui 16% Non 84%
What's next for Canada?
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 (making it Canada's without any British authority)
Constitution Act (1982)
Purpose was to satisfy Quebec and other provinces to remain in Canada
Trudeau could not get the provincial premiers to agree on how to change it
So the Federal Gov’t did it alone
At the last minute a deal was struck (except with Quebec)
Quebec was left out of the final meeting and felt betrayed
On 2 December 1981, the federal parliament voted in favour
8 March 1982 British Parliament agreed
3 Main Points:
The power to amend or change the constitution would be brought home from Britain.
Changes to the constitution could be made if the federal government
(House of Commons & Senate)
and 7 provinces with 50% of the population agreed.
A Charter of Rights and freedoms would be added to the constitution.
Quebec as a Distinct Society
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.
Distinct Society
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?
Meech Lake Accord 1987
Canada’s new Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, was determined to resolve the conflict between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
He believed in recognizing Quebec as a “distinct society” which would allow Quebec to control its own affairs and still receive federal funding.
Some special powers 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.
Trudeau denounced the agreements (too much power to Quebec)
Citizens agreed, no equality
Aboriginals were upset that they were ignored
Felt they should have special status like Quebec
Most premiers wanted more for their provinces too
All three political parties and 8 out of 10 provinces approved the accord, only N.F. and Manitoba disapproved and the Accord was defeated.
Elijah Harper stood up for Aboriginals as a member of the Manitoba legislature
Although Meech Lake did not succeed, Mulroney tried again in 1992 in Charlottetown, PEI.
Charlottetown Accord 1992
Mulroney decided to put the debate to the public
Commission put forth to come up with points that would make everyone happy
Points were: Quebec, Senate Reform, Powers, Minorities, and Aboriginals
Voted down 54.4% to 44.6%
Again, too much power to Quebec, not enough for the rest
Effects of Charlottetown Accord Failure
Quebec felt even more bitterness
Rights of Aboriginals being looked at seen as a step in the right direction
PM Mulroney resigned
Kim Campbell took office, first female PM
Campbell defeated by Jean Chrétien 4 months later
Quebec Referendum Pt. 2, 1995
When the Parti Québécois came back into power in1994, led by Jacques Parizeau, it decided to have another referendum.
Referendum held on October 30, 1995 and 50.6% voted NO and 49.4% voted Yes.
We came 0.6% from Quebec separation!
Quebec Today
We haven’t had a referendum since but the debate continues!
It has been proposed that Quebec could be seen as 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).
Does this really change anything? 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.
Pre-1960s Relations
Conscription Crisis in WWI
Union Nationale/Quebec Nationalism
WWII Conscription Plebiscite
Quebec in the 1960s:
The Quiet Revolution
Jean Lesage and the Liberals came to power in Québec under the slogan, “Time for a Change”
Lesage – stamped out corruption
government jobs and contracts were now awarded according to merit
wages and pensions were raised

Liberals began a peaceful but dramatic movement to modernize the province’s economy, politics, education, and culture
took control of social services and the education system
students required to take more science and technology courses to prepare them for the new Quebec
Quebecois were encouraged to think of themselves as citizens of the 20th century
as new attitudes took hold, the influence of the church declined

The Quiet Revolution
“Maîtres Chez Nous”
After 1962 election – Liberals campaigned, and won, with the motto, “maîtres chez nous” – “ masters in our own house”
Aim – to strengthen Québec’s control of its own economy
Among other steps – Quebec nationalized (bought out) several hydro companies and turned them into a large, provincially-owned power monopoly – Hydro-Québec

Separatism in Quebec
Resentment towards English-speaking Canada grew
As francophone Quebecers became proud of their achievements – became angrier at what they perceived as injustices by English-speaking Canadians – i.e.
Federal government overwhelmingly English;
French rarely held Cabinet posts;
No French schools in the rest of Canada;
Francophones expected to speak English in stores and at work
For some – only solution was for Quebec to be entirely controlled by Quebecers – in separation from Canada

some young radicals – joined terrorist groups like the FLQ (front de liberation du Québec) and fought in the name of “Québec libre” – a “free” Québec
used fire bombs and explosives to attack symbols of English-Canadian power in Québec
most notably – March 7, 1963 – 3 Canadian army buildings in Montreal were bombed with Molotov cocktails (homemade firebombs)
FLQ claimed responsibility
1967 – influential Québec cabinet minister René Lévesque left the Liberal Party and formed the Parti Québécois (PQ)
Lévesque believed that Québec and Canada would do better to “divorce peacefully” than to continue a marriage that seemed “no loner workable”

Rene Levesque - Parti Quebecois
The Royal Commission
Lester Pearson – became PM in midst of Quiet Revolution
convinced that Canada would face a grave crisis unless the French were made to feel more at home in Canada
appointed the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (The “Bi and Bi Commission”) to investigate some solutions
Main recommendation: that Canada should become officially bilingual
New Canadian Flag -1965
1964 – Pearson acted on long-standing complaint in Québec that Canada’s symbols were too British – suggested a new Canadian flag
Maple Leaf chosen as symbol for new flag because it seemed to represent all Canadians
instead – increased tensions in Canada
many English Canadians opposed the new flag because they felt Pearson was pandering to Québec
heated debate – split the country
now accepted by English-Canadians – Quebeckers tend to favour fleur-de-lis
finally, on February 15, 1965 – Canada’s new flag was raised on Parliament Hill for the 1st time
P.E. Trudeau and Quebec
1968 – Trudeau succeeded Pearson as PM
determined Ottawa should do more to persuade people from Québec that their future lay with Canada
1969 – acted on the advice of the “Bi and Bi Commission” and passed the Official Languages Act – making Canada an officially bilingual country
from this point on: all federal government agencies across Canada were required to provide services in both languages
Official Languages Act 1969
met with mixed results – some embraced the idea – i.e. French Immersion classes; others felt French being forced on them
many Westerners angered
many Francophones not impressed – wanted “special status” for Québec in Confederation
Trudeau would not accept this notion
FLQ Crisis
On October 5, 1970 members of the FLQ kidnapped James Cross, a British diplomat, from this Montreal home
In exchange for Cross’s safe release – FLQ made several demands, including release of FLQ members serving prison sentences for previous criminal acts
Federal and Québec authorities agreed to most demands – but refused to release any FLQ prisoners from jail
then FLQ kidnapped Québec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte
Alarmed that the situation was out of control – Trudeau asked Parliament to impose the War Measures Act
civil rights suspended;
anyone could be arrested and detained without being charged with an offense;
membership in FLQ became a crime;
When asked how far he would go to defeat the FLQ Trudeau said, “Just watch me.”
October 16th – federal troops were sent to patrol the streets of Ottawa and Montreal
Hundreds of pro-separatist Quebeckers were arrested and held without charge
October 17th – police found the body of Pierre Laporte in the trunk of a car – had been strangled
Two months later – Montreal tracked the group holding Cross in a Montreal house
In return for Cross’ safe release – kidnappers were permitted safe passage to Cuba, where they would be granted political asylum
Those detained under the War Measures Act – released
Of 450 people held in detention – only 25 ever charged
Dec 3, 1970 - October Crisis Over

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