The Quiet Revolution

samedi 01 avril 2017

Back
Traditional Quebec
The Quiet Revolution
Sovereignty
Constitutional Crisis
On-going Crisis
Recent Quebec

 

 

The event that made reform possible was the death of Maurice Duplessis in 1959 and the establishment of a Liberal government under Jean Lesage in 1960. But the long-term factor behind the Quiet Revolution was the emergence of a new middle class of salaried professionals, different from the traditional French Canadian middle class of doctors and lawyers, trained in sciences, marketing, and economics, anti-clerical and underrepresented in the top positions of Quebec companies, which were under English Canadian control. These people actively championed an extension of the Quebec state and opposed the Duplessis regime in the 1950s. Several leading journals expressed their ideas; the most famous was Cité Libre, edited by the future Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and lobbied for a reform of the educational system and the nationalization of the resource sector. Young reformers divided on the national question; Trudeau was an anti-nationalist, open to the idea of a reform led by Ottawa. Some reformers, among whom the Montréal historians (Maurice Séguin, Guy Frégault, Michel Brunet) on the contrary combined the new secular conception of the state with the interests of the Francophones and believed that the reform could only come from the Quebec state.

 

 

 

Within a few years, education, health and welfare were greatly modernized. The Minister of Education was created in 1964 with the state taking over education from the Church, especially in terms of pedagogy and curriculum and opening non-confessional CEGEP (lycée). A hospital insurance scheme as well as a pension scheme were launched in 1961, with Quebec taking over federal programs. An economic program to redress the under representation of French Canadians in the upper levels of the economy was started, along with the establishment of public corporations. Hydroelectricity companies were nationalized to form Hydro-Quebec and French was established as the sole working language in the new company, so that the new managers were French Canadians. The slogan of the new movement was “maîtres chez nous”. But in fact, success was only relative on the economic front and the  English Canadian economic domination was not broken. The changes in Quebec were not really radical, they simply brought Quebec to conformity with the other Canadian provinces. One major consequence was the abrupt decline of the Catholic Church, which brutally lost control and power, with many priests and nuns who chose to return to the secular world, while attendance to mass plummeted.