Following are texts associated with the chapter on "The Affirmation of Quebec on the Political Scene.”

Texts include:

The Sovereignty Movement
“Vive le Québec libre”
Relations between Quebec and Ottawa
The Délégation générale du Québec in Paris
The Front de libération du Québec
Bill 63
Following are texts associated with the chapter on "The Affirmation of Quebec on the Political Scene.”

Texts include:

The Sovereignty Movement
“Vive le Québec libre”
Relations between Quebec and Ottawa
The Délégation générale du Québec in Paris
The Front de libération du Québec
Bill 63

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

The Fight for Quebec’s Independence

The roots of the indépendantiste or sovereignist project run deep in the history of Quebec. Some ascribe its beginnings to the Rebellions of 1837-1838; others to three-quarters of a century earlier during the Conquest of 1760. Under the influence of the new Quebec nationalism that emerged in the post-war period, the decolonization that took place in several parts of the world and the anti-colonialist writings of Frantz Fanon, Jacques Berque and Albert Memmi, which echoed favourably in Quebec, the sovereignty movement began to take shape in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Proliferation of Sovereignist Organizations

The earliest manifestation appeared when Raymond Barbeau, a French professor at the École des hautes études commerciales, created the Alliance laurentienne in 1957. The Alliance advocated the independence of Quebec and the establishment of a state with fascist overtones in more than one respect. In 1960, the Action socialiste pour l’indépendance du Québec was born. In addition to independence, the group recommended a so Read More
The Fight for Quebec’s Independence

The roots of the indépendantiste or sovereignist project run deep in the history of Quebec. Some ascribe its beginnings to the Rebellions of 1837-1838; others to three-quarters of a century earlier during the Conquest of 1760. Under the influence of the new Quebec nationalism that emerged in the post-war period, the decolonization that took place in several parts of the world and the anti-colonialist writings of Frantz Fanon, Jacques Berque and Albert Memmi, which echoed favourably in Quebec, the sovereignty movement began to take shape in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Proliferation of Sovereignist Organizations

The earliest manifestation appeared when Raymond Barbeau, a French professor at the École des hautes études commerciales, created the Alliance laurentienne in 1957. The Alliance advocated the independence of Quebec and the establishment of a state with fascist overtones in more than one respect. In 1960, the Action socialiste pour l’indépendance du Québec was born. In addition to independence, the group recommended a socialist Quebec. In 1960 also, the Rassemblement pour l’indépendance nationale (RIN) was founded for the purpose of one single goal: to promote Quebec’s independence. It became a political party in 1963. In the meantime, in 1962, one of the founders of the RIN, Marcel Chaput, formed a new political party known as the Parti républicain du Québec (PRQ), bringing together the more radical elements of the RIN. Another split occurred within the RIN in 1964 with the establishment of the Ralliement national (RN). In addition to the most right-wing militants of the RIN, the RN was also the rallying point for Quebec members of the Ralliement créditiste.

Origins of the Parti Québécois

Most of these indépendantiste movements slipped away over the years. Some were absorbed by the Mouvement souveraineté-association (MSA), which emerged the day after René Lévesque left the Liberal Party in 1967. Such was the case with the RN and the RIN in 1968. This was also the year that the MSA became a political party, the Parti québécois, with René Lévesque as leader. Sociologist Marcel Rioux was correct when he wrote that the Parti québécois achieved the unity of all the indépendantiste parties.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Canada Unrolls the Red Carpet for Its Centennial

In 1967, the year of the World Exposition in Montréal and the Centennial of the Canadian confederation, a great number of heads of state and dignitaries were expected in the country. One among them who drew particular attention was the president of the French Republic, General Charles de Gaulle. Established protocol indicated that each guest arrive at the national capital, Ottawa, by plane. A tour of the Montréal Expo was planned, but as an ancillary activity. This program did not please General de Gaulle, who decided to travel to the country in the same manner of the first French in the 16th and 17th centuries, by boat, and begin his visit in Quebec.

Vive le Québec libre

July 23, 1967, the admiral-ship Colbert moored at the Port of Quebec with de Gaulle aboard. The next day, July 24, the anniversary of the discovery of Canada by Jacques Cartier in 1534, de Gaulle travelled along the Chemin du Roi to Montréal – another highly symbolic gesture – accompanied by his faithful friend, Daniel Johnson, Premier of Que Read More
Canada Unrolls the Red Carpet for Its Centennial

In 1967, the year of the World Exposition in Montréal and the Centennial of the Canadian confederation, a great number of heads of state and dignitaries were expected in the country. One among them who drew particular attention was the president of the French Republic, General Charles de Gaulle. Established protocol indicated that each guest arrive at the national capital, Ottawa, by plane. A tour of the Montréal Expo was planned, but as an ancillary activity. This program did not please General de Gaulle, who decided to travel to the country in the same manner of the first French in the 16th and 17th centuries, by boat, and begin his visit in Quebec.

Vive le Québec libre

July 23, 1967, the admiral-ship Colbert moored at the Port of Quebec with de Gaulle aboard. The next day, July 24, the anniversary of the discovery of Canada by Jacques Cartier in 1534, de Gaulle travelled along the Chemin du Roi to Montréal – another highly symbolic gesture – accompanied by his faithful friend, Daniel Johnson, Premier of Quebec, Up to a half-million Quebecers, saluted him along the way. The general made speeches in Donnacona, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Trois-Rivières, Louiseville, Berthierville and Repentigny. At each stop his comments were intentionally and increasingly stripped of diplomatic precautions, allowing his innermost thoughts to peep through. In Montréal, the procession was welcomed by a few thousand people. De Gaulle ended his journey at city hall where, before a crowd of some twenty thousand who had come to hear him, he ended his speech with the fateful words, Vive le Québec libre. The crowd was ecstatic; the Quebec and federal government representatives, stunned. Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson qualified the General’s comments as unacceptable. To the utter despair of federal authorities, the famous visitor from France had just lent a helping hand to Quebec sovereignists. Two days later, de Gaulle returned to France without stopping in Ottawa.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Tensions between Quebec and Ottawa during the Duplessis Era

During the 16 years that the Union nationale was in power from 1944 to 1960, relations between Quebec and the federal government were stormy, at best. In the name of provincial autonomy, Premier Maurice Duplessis declared that he was fighting the excessive centralization of Ottawa. It was true that federal government authorities had expanded their powers during the Second World War, and this led to a propensity for delving into areas of provincial jurisdiction. On the other hand, the attitude of the Quebec government barely hid a strong conservative and retrograde inclination in issues regarding social progress.

Quebec Wins against Ottawa

After the death of Duplessis in 1959 and the arrival to power of the Liberal Party the following year, Ottawa anticipated an improvement in its relations with Quebec, more so since the new premier, Jean Lesage, was beginning his political career in the national capital. Imagine the surprise of participants in the federal-provincial conference of 1960 when Lesage struck to his Read More
Tensions between Quebec and Ottawa during the Duplessis Era

During the 16 years that the Union nationale was in power from 1944 to 1960, relations between Quebec and the federal government were stormy, at best. In the name of provincial autonomy, Premier Maurice Duplessis declared that he was fighting the excessive centralization of Ottawa. It was true that federal government authorities had expanded their powers during the Second World War, and this led to a propensity for delving into areas of provincial jurisdiction. On the other hand, the attitude of the Quebec government barely hid a strong conservative and retrograde inclination in issues regarding social progress.

Quebec Wins against Ottawa

After the death of Duplessis in 1959 and the arrival to power of the Liberal Party the following year, Ottawa anticipated an improvement in its relations with Quebec, more so since the new premier, Jean Lesage, was beginning his political career in the national capital. Imagine the surprise of participants in the federal-provincial conference of 1960 when Lesage struck to his guns and demanded more money and power from Ottawa. Lesage was an astute and skilled negotiator, perfectly aware of the mechanisms of the federal government. He obtained a greater portion of the personal income tax that Quebec paid to Ottawa and an increase in equalization payments to the tune of $185 million between 1964 and 1966. The substantial influx of funds was crucial, given the extremely high cost of the reforms initiated by the Liberal Party in Quebec. In the area of federal programs infringing on domains under provincial jurisdiction, Lesage negotiated an opting out right that did not lead to financial loss, a right proposed earlier by Paul Sauvé.

Ottawa Refuses to Open the Constitution

By acquiescing to Quebec’s demands, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson sought to show overture to French Canadians. Jean Lesage’s successor, Daniel Johnson, wanted to push Quebec’s demands a bit further. During the federal-provincial conference of 1968, he attempted to obtain special status for Quebec. But the Minster of Justice at the time, future Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was categorically opposed to the suggestion.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Québec Gains an Official Foothold in Paris

In the spring of 1960, the plane carrying General Charles de Gaulle, President of France, landed in Ottawa. It was the third visit by this colourful personage to Canada. After Ottawa and before Toronto, the General was supposed to visit Quebec, the pat of the country with which he wished to establish sustained relations. Upon his return to France, de Gaulle confided in André Malraux, his Minister of Cultural Affairs: I believe that there is a strong French potential in Quebec, please take care of it. Shortly thereafter, Malraux met with Georges-Émile Lapalme, Vice Premier and Attorney General of Quebec, while he was in Paris. The two men, who felt strongly about the importance of culture, immediately entered into dialogue. From this first meeting the idea was born of opening up a centre for Quebec in Paris with the mission of developing economic and cultural ties with France and establishing exchange and cooperative programs. The idea became reality very quickly, since on October 5, 1961, Quebec Premier Jean Lesage was in Paris for the inauguration of what was to become the Délégation gén Read More
Québec Gains an Official Foothold in Paris

In the spring of 1960, the plane carrying General Charles de Gaulle, President of France, landed in Ottawa. It was the third visit by this colourful personage to Canada. After Ottawa and before Toronto, the General was supposed to visit Quebec, the pat of the country with which he wished to establish sustained relations. Upon his return to France, de Gaulle confided in André Malraux, his Minister of Cultural Affairs: I believe that there is a strong French potential in Quebec, please take care of it. Shortly thereafter, Malraux met with Georges-Émile Lapalme, Vice Premier and Attorney General of Quebec, while he was in Paris. The two men, who felt strongly about the importance of culture, immediately entered into dialogue. From this first meeting the idea was born of opening up a centre for Quebec in Paris with the mission of developing economic and cultural ties with France and establishing exchange and cooperative programs. The idea became reality very quickly, since on October 5, 1961, Quebec Premier Jean Lesage was in Paris for the inauguration of what was to become the Délégation générale du Québec in Paris.

An Initiative that Displeases the Federal Government

The federal government did not much care for the special friendship between France and Québec, reminding Quebec that foreign policy issues were the exclusive domain of Ottawa. To thwart Quebec’s initiative, in 1965 Ottawa signed a framework agreement with France on scientific and cultural exchange between the two countries. On the basis of this agreement, a Canadian province could enter into agreements with foreign countries, but must first obtain approval from Ottawa. Québec ignored this order, deeming it legal for the province to conclude agreements with foreign authorities in matters under its jurisdiction. The war of flags between Quebec and Ottawa had begun.

After the Maison du Québec in Paris, the Government of Quebec inaugurated the Quebec House in London in 1963 and a trade office in Milan (Italy) in 1965.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Revolution, the Only Path to Independence

The decolonization movement after the Second World War led to violent and tragic incidences. One need only recall the war in Vietnam (1946-1975) the Algerian War (1954-1962), and the Cuban Revolution (1959) or, then again, activities of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that rose again in 1949 and the ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) in Spain starting in 1959. These armed fights for national liberation were sources of inspiration for independence militants in Quebec who began to believe that freedom could never be obtained through democracy.

Graffiti, a New Way to Express One’s Convictions

At the onset of the 1960s, the nationalist sensibility of a goodly portion of the population in Quebec was on a hair-trigger. In 1962, when Donald Gordon, president of the Canadian National Railway (CN), stated unequivocally that French Canadians lacked the competence to occupy the position of Vice-president of the Crown Corporation that he directed, it was the spark that ignited the powder keg. Shortly thereafter, a small, more or less c Read More
Revolution, the Only Path to Independence

The decolonization movement after the Second World War led to violent and tragic incidences. One need only recall the war in Vietnam (1946-1975) the Algerian War (1954-1962), and the Cuban Revolution (1959) or, then again, activities of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that rose again in 1949 and the ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) in Spain starting in 1959. These armed fights for national liberation were sources of inspiration for independence militants in Quebec who began to believe that freedom could never be obtained through democracy.

Graffiti, a New Way to Express One’s Convictions

At the onset of the 1960s, the nationalist sensibility of a goodly portion of the population in Quebec was on a hair-trigger. In 1962, when Donald Gordon, president of the Canadian National Railway (CN), stated unequivocally that French Canadians lacked the competence to occupy the position of Vice-president of the Crown Corporation that he directed, it was the spark that ignited the powder keg. Shortly thereafter, a small, more or less clandestine group was born: the Réseau de résistance pour la libération nationale du Québec (RR). Its sole purpose was to put graffiti with slogans demanding the independence of Quebec (Vive le Québec libre for example) on monuments, public buildings and road signs. In the end, the RR would support the efforts of the sovereignist movements.

The FLQ, an Increasingly Violent Organization

In 1963, some thirty individuals detached themselves from the small group of graffiti supporters, convinced that the independence of Quebec could not be obtained without violence. Such was the birth of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). A few weeks later, Molotov cocktails were tossed at three armouries of the Canadian Army in Montréal. This was followed by other bombings and robberies of banks and firearms. In 1967, the Centennial year of the Confederation and the World Exposition in Montréal, the FLQ was more discreet. Deeds of high renown of the revolutionary movement in Quebec culminated with the October Crisis in 1970 and the death of Liberal Minister Pierre Laporte.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Protecting the French Language: a Priority

At the start of the Quiet Revolution, Quebec’s new nationalism was asserted in the fields of politics, economy, literature and the arts. It quickly emerged in another area that inflamed passions, the language question. For a long time, the main concern of the political class in Quebec was that new immigrants be Catholic for the most part. Given the rapid drop in the birth rate among French Canadians in the 1960s, the issue became more like one of immigrants adopting French as their language. But such was not always the case. In the 1950s, nearly 70% of the children of new Quebecers in Montréal attended English-language schools. This proportion was even higher during the following decade. In this context, the survival of French in Quebec, and more particularly in an increasingly cosmopolitan Montréal, seemed compromised on the long term.

The Linguistic Battle in Saint-Léonard

Various solutions were advanced to remedy the situation. For example, in Saint-Léonard, a city on the outskirts of Montréal, the school commissioners Read More
Protecting the French Language: a Priority

At the start of the Quiet Revolution, Quebec’s new nationalism was asserted in the fields of politics, economy, literature and the arts. It quickly emerged in another area that inflamed passions, the language question. For a long time, the main concern of the political class in Quebec was that new immigrants be Catholic for the most part. Given the rapid drop in the birth rate among French Canadians in the 1960s, the issue became more like one of immigrants adopting French as their language. But such was not always the case. In the 1950s, nearly 70% of the children of new Quebecers in Montréal attended English-language schools. This proportion was even higher during the following decade. In this context, the survival of French in Quebec, and more particularly in an increasingly cosmopolitan Montréal, seemed compromised on the long term.

The Linguistic Battle in Saint-Léonard

Various solutions were advanced to remedy the situation. For example, in Saint-Léonard, a city on the outskirts of Montréal, the school commissioners took the initiative to abolish bilingual classes in favour of unilingual French classes. But the segment of the population of Saint-Léonard of Italian origin that sent their children to English school did not agree. Right away, battle lines were drawn between the Italo-Quebecers united under the banner of the Saint-Leonard English Catholic Association of Parents and the Mouvement pour l’intégration scolaire, which demanded the mandatory enrolment of immigrant children in French schools.

Bill 63 Raises Indignation among Francophones

The situation degenerated in the wake of confrontations between the two groups and the Union nationale though it possible to cut the Gordian Knot by adopting Bill 63 in 1969. To the astonishment of the French Canadian population, Bill 63 gave parents the right to choose the language of education of their children. The fall of 1963 was a difficult period for the government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand, in light of the many protests against Bill 63. It was so unpopular that it became one of the leading causes behind the defeat of the Union nationale in the election of 1970.

© 2011, Musée québécois de culture populaire. All Rights Reserved.

Photography of René Lévesque and Gilles Grégoire

From October 11 to 14, 1968, the Mouvement souveraineté-association (MSA) established in 1967 and the Ralliement national (RN) unite their destinies to form the Parti québécois. The photo features Gilles Grégoire, RN leader, and René Lévesque, MSA leader.

unknown
20th Century
Le Soleil, October 15, 1968, p. 1.


Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

Acquire a historic perspective. Establish relations between Quebec as it was before, during and after the Quiet Revolution

Educational Connections (cross-curricular competencies)

Build on information (make the most of information).
Build on information (place knowledge in perspective).
Express one’s opinion (exercise critical judgment).
Take advantage of technology (make the most of information technology and communication).
Immerse oneself in a situation (apply one’s creative thinking).
Commit oneself to exploration (apply one’s creative thinking).

Educational Results

Encourage the student to examine the subject from a historical perspective.
Bring the student to understand the present based on the past.
Bring the student to express an opinion on this history.
Bring the student to develop critical thinking.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans