Following are texts associated with the chapter on "Reclaiming the Economy.”

They include:

The Nationalization of Electricity
The Société générale de financement
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Régie des rentes
Following are texts associated with the chapter on "Reclaiming the Economy.”

They include:

The Nationalization of Electricity
The Société générale de financement
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Régie des rentes

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

Collective Wealth under Foreign Control

There is no doubt that the nationalization of electricity in 1963 was a focal event of the Quiet Revolution. The process was begun in 1944 under the Liberal government of Adélard Godbout with the nationalization of Montreal, Light, Heat & Power that had amassed consumer complaints for several decades. Hydro-Québec was born, but the territory served was limited to the region of Montréal. The production and distribution of electricity elsewhere in Quebec was under the direct control of some ten foreign companies, with Shawinigan Water & Power being the most important.

Masters in Our Own Home

The nationalization of hydroelectric power was a matter of concern throughout the 1950s, but an issue in which the Union nationale government refused to intervene. Under the Liberal government of 1960, then Minister of Hydraulic Resources René Lévesque, had a completely different view of the question. In his opinion, Electricity was fundamental for Quebec and needed to constitute a well-integrated asset. The unification had to be achieve Read More
Collective Wealth under Foreign Control

There is no doubt that the nationalization of electricity in 1963 was a focal event of the Quiet Revolution. The process was begun in 1944 under the Liberal government of Adélard Godbout with the nationalization of Montreal, Light, Heat & Power that had amassed consumer complaints for several decades. Hydro-Québec was born, but the territory served was limited to the region of Montréal. The production and distribution of electricity elsewhere in Quebec was under the direct control of some ten foreign companies, with Shawinigan Water & Power being the most important.

Masters in Our Own Home

The nationalization of hydroelectric power was a matter of concern throughout the 1950s, but an issue in which the Union nationale government refused to intervene. Under the Liberal government of 1960, then Minister of Hydraulic Resources René Lévesque, had a completely different view of the question. In his opinion, Electricity was fundamental for Quebec and needed to constitute a well-integrated asset. The unification had to be achieved by Hydro-Québec (translation). As of 1961, Lévesque made the nationalization of electricity his watchword. His project was opposed by many, even among the Liberal troops and the Cabinet Council. Lévesque patiently rallied more and more people around his opinion. The question even became the main issue of the election of November 14, 1962. Along with his minister, Liberal party leader Jean Lesage, proclaimed loud and clear from every pulpit: Now or never, masters in our own home (translation). The Liberals were carried to power with a comfortable majority and the eleven private electricity companies became the property of Hydro-Québec in 1963 at a cost of over $600 000 000. Under the effect of nationalization, the number of employees working for this state-owned corporation rose to 14 000, compared to 8 900 earlier, and senior management positions were now held by French Canadians.

Nationalizing electricity was an economic decision that led to better regional service in Quebec, particularly in remote locations. It also served to smooth regional development. The eminently political decision bore witness to the will to appropriate natural resources and showcase emerging nationalism.


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

A hard reality needed to be faced in the 1960s: between 5% and 20% of the Quebec economy belonged to French Quebecers; the rest, a minimum of at least 80%, (and possibly more), was in the hands of English Canadian and American corporations. The Liberal Party in power intended to rectify this situation. Indeed, during a speech pronounced in March 1961, Premier Jean Lesage affirmed that economic colonialism was no longer acceptable for Quebecers (translation). The solution advanced by the government was the creation of the Société générale de financement (SGF) in 1962. It would be a mixed corporation combining funds originating from the state, financial institutions and taxpayers. Its mission would consist of supporting Quebec businesses experiencing difficulties and diversifying Québec’s industrial production base. In addition to acquiring corporate stock, the SGF could obtain bonds from other levels of government and organizations (school boards, for example) and resell them. In short, the SGF was to act as the financial arm of the Government of Québec and mitigate Quebec’s dependence on foreign capital.


A hard reality needed to be faced in the 1960s: between 5% and 20% of the Quebec economy belonged to French Quebecers; the rest, a minimum of at least 80%, (and possibly more), was in the hands of English Canadian and American corporations. The Liberal Party in power intended to rectify this situation. Indeed, during a speech pronounced in March 1961, Premier Jean Lesage affirmed that economic colonialism was no longer acceptable for Quebecers (translation). The solution advanced by the government was the creation of the Société générale de financement (SGF) in 1962. It would be a mixed corporation combining funds originating from the state, financial institutions and taxpayers. Its mission would consist of supporting Quebec businesses experiencing difficulties and diversifying Québec’s industrial production base. In addition to acquiring corporate stock, the SGF could obtain bonds from other levels of government and organizations (school boards, for example) and resell them. In short, the SGF was to act as the financial arm of the Government of Québec and mitigate Quebec’s dependence on foreign capital.


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

In the wake of the establishment of the Société générale de financement in 1962 and the nationalization of electricity in 1963, the Government of Québec acquired a new instrument in 1965 to proceed with its goal of economic winback: the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec. Since their accession to power in 1960, the Liberals reflected on the creation of a universal, mandatory pension plan for all Quebecers. The matter was precipitated further when, during a Speech from the Throne in 1963, the federal government announced its intention to implement a pension plan in Canada. The Quebec government marshalled it forces and Premier Jean Lesage was able to present the Régime des rentes du Québec project during a federal-provincial conference in 1964, much to the surprise of federal government delegates. Taken by surprise, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson had no other choice but to accept the principle of a distinct plan for Quebec. The Caisse de dépôt et de placement was entrusted with the management of considerable sums intended for Quebecers’ pensions. Likewise, the new organization brought together scattered and forgotten funds of the Government of Quebec such as Read More
In the wake of the establishment of the Société générale de financement in 1962 and the nationalization of electricity in 1963, the Government of Québec acquired a new instrument in 1965 to proceed with its goal of economic winback: the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec. Since their accession to power in 1960, the Liberals reflected on the creation of a universal, mandatory pension plan for all Quebecers. The matter was precipitated further when, during a Speech from the Throne in 1963, the federal government announced its intention to implement a pension plan in Canada. The Quebec government marshalled it forces and Premier Jean Lesage was able to present the Régime des rentes du Québec project during a federal-provincial conference in 1964, much to the surprise of federal government delegates. Taken by surprise, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson had no other choice but to accept the principle of a distinct plan for Quebec. The Caisse de dépôt et de placement was entrusted with the management of considerable sums intended for Quebecers’ pensions. Likewise, the new organization brought together scattered and forgotten funds of the Government of Quebec such as the buyback of seigniorial rents and Protestant marriages, among others. Finally, thanks to the Caisse, the Government of Quebec was no longer submitted to primarily Anglophone corporations that formed a financial lobby to float loans.

In 1964, when Jean Lesage expressed his firm intention to create the Caisse de dépôt et de placement, he estimated that its assets would reach a billion dollars in 1970, and more than ten billion in 1993. Lesage was mistaken in his long-term projections, because as early as 1980, the Caisse already managed ten billion dollars.

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

Mr. Prieur is surrounded by representatives of both groups of electricity producers.

Signature of an agreement in 1968 between the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited, associated with Hydro-Québec in the exploitation of the Churchill Falls. Mr. Prieur is surrounded by representatives of both groups of electricity producers.

unknown
20th Century
Archives of the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec.


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.

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