Canadian French-English Relations 1914-1970

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Information about Canadian French-English Relations 1914-1970

Published on January 13, 2014

Author: crtfinnie



A brief overview of French-English relations in Canada from 1914-1970

French-English Relations

World War One – 1914 -1918 At the outset of World War One – tremendous disagreement between English and French Canada on what role Canada should play in conflict French Canadians did not think we should get involved in a European / British war Most English-Canadians still felt strong loyalty to Britain and wanted to lend support

1917 – Conscription Crisis of WWI When PM Borden introduced Military Service Act of 1917 – introduced conscription Divided Canada along language lines English Canada supportive of conscription, French Canada opposed Henri Bourassa, the Premier of Quebec, appealed to Quebecois by saying that the war involved no Canadian interests, and therefore Canadians should not be involved. Québec City Riot (1918) protested conscription, led to 4 deaths

1930s - Roots of Quebec Nationalism Maurice Duplessis – Union Nationale Premier of Québec from 19361939, and again from 1944-1959 strong Québec nationalist devoted to the idea of Québec as a distinctive society – a “nation” rather than just another Canadian province introduced flag for Québec bearing the French symbol, the fleur-de-lis – to emphasize province’s difference from English-speaking Canada fiercely opposed growing powers of federal government

Duplessis – cont’ HOWEVER- bribery and corruption trademarks of Duplessis regime while limiting the influence of foreign culture, he encouraged foreign investment businesses and industries from Ontario and USA were attracted by what Québec had to offer: cheap labour (union activity was either discouraged or banned) and low taxes in return for favourable business conditions, companies were expected to contribute generously to the Union Nationale – in “kickbacks”/ gifts

Roman Catholic Church Under Duplessis, the Church was the main defender of Québec culture priests urged people in Québec to turn their backs on the materialism of English-speaking North America Church praised the old Québec traditions of farm, faith, and family Church ran Québec’s schools taught children to accept authority those few who attended high school and university received training in traditional subjects (eg. Philosophy) Result – Québec produced many priests, lawyers, and politicians, but few scientists, engineers, or business people

World War Two 1939 - 1945 1942 – Conscription Crisis again  Not as severe as 1917, but there were still protests and tensions PM King uses plebiscite (referendum) to ask Canadians to release him from promise not to impose conscription Vast majority of English Canadians vote in favour; vast majority of French Canadians vote against Conscription

Quiet Revolution – 1960s 1960 – Duplessis died – 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  restrictions on trade unionism removed

Quiet Revolution - Modernization 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 Québec Quebeckers were encouraged to think of themselves as citizens of the 20th century as new attitudes took hold, the influence of the church declined this wave of change known as the Quiet Revolution

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 resentment towards Englishspeaking Canada grew as francophone Quebeckers became proud of their achievements – became angrier at what they perceived as injustices by Englishspeaking 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 Quebeckers – in separation from Canada

Separatism - FLQ 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 firebombs and explosives to attack symbols of EnglishCanadian power in Québec most notably – March 7, 1963 – 3 Canadian army buildings in Montreal were bombed with Molotov cocktails (homemade firebombs) FLQ claimed responsibility

Separatism - Lévesque and the PQ 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”

Ottawa’s Response - 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

Ottawa’s Response - New Canadian Flag -1965 1964 – Pearson acted on longstanding 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 EnglishCanadians – 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

Trudeau and Québec Canada becomes Officially Bilingual in 1969 1968 – Trudeau succeeded Pearson as PM determined Ottawa should do more to persuade people from Québec that their future lay with Canada 1969 – acted n 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 Background al%2BArchives/War%2Band %2BConflict/Civil %2BUnrest/ID/1559977962/

James Cross Released al%2BArchives/War%2Band %2BConflict/Civil %2BUnrest/ID/1559906879/

October Crisis - 1970 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; James Cross Pierre Laporte

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 October Crisis Dec 3, 1970 - October Crisis Over Trudeau – Just Watch Me – (5:50)

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