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The Question of Quebec: Language and Sovereignty. By: Ginny Goldstein and Aynsley Hamilton. Table of Contents. 1) The Official Languages Act 2) The rise of Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois 3) The FLQ Crisis 4) Bill 22 and Bill 101: Quebec’s Language Legislation.

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The Question of Quebec:

Language and Sovereignty

By: Ginny Goldstein and Aynsley Hamilton

Table of contents
Table of Contents

1) The Official Languages Act

2) The rise of Rene Levesque and the

Parti Quebecois

3) The FLQ Crisis

4) Bill 22 and Bill 101: Quebec’s

Language Legislation

One canada two languages
One Canada, Two Languages

Important clip #1:


The official languages act
The Official Languages Act

The Official Languages Act acknowledged English and

French as the two languages in Canada.

In 1988, it implemented 3 basic goals which included:

1) To uphold value for English and French and guarantee

equality and equal rights/privileges for their use in


2) To set out the influence, function, and purpose of

official languages

3) To encourage maturity of English and French

minority communities and equality of the two languages in




- This legal framework integrates the rights set out

earlier in the Constitution of 1867 and the

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

- It gives a lawmaking foundation to the policies

implemented in federal establishments, concerning

the use of official languages used in federal



- Quebecers were frustrated as English dominated

in the world of business/finance

- Leaders tried to bring equality but changes were too slow

- With the Quiet Revolution, hopes were raised for students

at university and college

- Even with qualifications, Quebecers did not get the jobs

because of their only French speaking status

- Separation from Canada was seen as the best way to

make the French-speaking majority the “masters of our

own house”


- The purpose of the Official Languages Act of

1969 was to reduce tensions caused over French-

English language rights.

- Prime Minister Trudeau’s goal was to make

Quebec a better, richer society by giving each

language equal ranking, allowing French

Canadians to live among English Canadians and

vice versa without losing culture or heritage.


The four main components of the act


  • Either English or French can be used within parliament, federal courts, and federal government offices

  • In areas of large minorities of English or French known as “bilingual districts”, both languages should be recognized

  • All schools in Ottawa (a bilingual district) must offer courses in both French and English

  • Specific sections of the federal civil service should speak both official languages and promote people based on bilingualism


- The Act quickly had mixed reaction among the public

- Some shared the vision while others questioned the price of educating civil servants to become bilingual

- Trudeau was also displeased, as it did not meet the ultimate goal of bringing language and individual rights.

- To do this, the Constitution or BNA Act would be needed from Britain to gain full governing authority of Canada

- This would take 13 years to achieve

- Independence was a new solution proposed by a new leader- Rene Levesque in 1969, threatening Canadian unity

Rene levesque
Rene Levesque

Important clip #2:


The rise of rene levesque and the parti quebecois
The Rise of Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois

  • Rene Levesque started off as a reporter and minister of the government of Quebec

  • He became the founder of the Parti Quebecois and 23rd Premier of Quebec

  • He gained fame by hosting the weekly news show called Point de Mire from 1956-1959

  • He was involved in the 1958 strike with support from Trudeau, and was arrested for involvement

  • He entered politics in 1960, when elected to the Legislative Assembly as a Liberal member

  • He worked as Minister of hydroelectric resources and Natural resources and greatly expanded the Hydro-Quebec

  • Once the Liberals lost in the 1966 election to the Union Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • On October 14, 1967, he left the Liberal Party once members refused the idea of a sovereign Quebec

  • Remaining an independent representative, he left the Liberals to found the Movement for Sovereignty Association

  • This helped encourage the idea of independence for Quebec from the rest of the country

  • This group later merged with the Ralliement National, to form the Parti Quebecois in 1968

  • Levesque’s preposition completely opposed Trudeau’s, one promising to unite Canada, the other tearing it in two.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • The new party opposed Trudeau’s Anglophone ways with a second option.

  • Levesque, with a background in journalism and media personality reputation, communicate clearly and with passion.

  • He attempted to remove Quebec from Confederation in a democratic fashion.

  • Levesque and Pierre Trudeau dominated over the fight for Quebec’s future.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • After the October Crisis, the Parti Quebecois grew to 30% popularity of the vote in the 1973 Quebec election.

  • The Single-member plurality system only granted them 6 seats however

  • This was quite a disappointment to the PQ and its followers but Levesque remained optimistic

  • “This is a defeat that feels like a victory,”

  • In the November 15, 1976 provincial election, the PQ increased its popularity to 41% winning the election

  • It formed the new government with 71 seats over 26 for the Liberals, 11 for the Union Nationale, and 2 others.

  • This victory lead to fear of a potential separation of Canada, however the separation was only used as a threat for bargaining

  • The PQ promised to hold a referendum on the sovereignty-association, and insist on the use of French

Rene Levesque Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

October crisis
October Crisis Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

Important clip #3:


The flq crisis
The FLQ Crisis Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • The FLQ was a terrorist group in Canada accountable for 200 bombings and five deaths in 1970 during the FLQ Crisis.

  • It was founded in the early 1960’s by supporters of the Quebec sovereignty movement, aiming for independence of Quebec.

  • Independence of a sovereign state hoped to help citizens economically, socially, and culturally with a government reformed to satisfy the needs of Quebecers.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • FLQ members practiced a terrorism concept against political enemies to help motivate the people and instigate revolution.

  • The anarchist movement was violent, starting with the bombing of mail boxes but ending in numerous assassinations.

  • The group believed English speaking people were the tyrants

  • Overthrow of Quebec’s government, independence, and the establishment of a French-Canadian workers’ society was needed.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • October 5 - FLQ kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross. A tape to authorities contained the kidnappers' demands was sent

  • October 8 - Broadcast of the FLQ Manifesto was made public to French- and English media outlets

  • October 10 - members of the “Chenier cell” of the FLQ kidnap Pierre Laporte.

  • October 13 - An interview based on military presence with Pierre Trudeau was made public. When asked how far he would go, he replied "Just watch me".

  • October 17 - The FLQ announced that Pierre Laporte has been executed, strangled with his own rosary chain and stuffed in a trunk abandoned a few miles from Montreal.

October crisis1
October Crisis Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

Important clip #3:


Continued.. Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

- For James Richard Cross’s release, they offered a list of demands which included:

  • The release of 23 "political prisoners" or members imprisoned to serve sentences for robbery, manslaughter, murder, and other crimes.

  • The 3 FLQ members out on bail during the kidnappings, would be allowed to leave Quebec if wanted.

  • All family members of "political prisoners" and those out on bail would be able to join them outside of Quebec.

  • $500,000 in gold

  • The broadcast and publication of the FLQ Manifesto

  • Making the names of police informants for terrorist activities public

  • Air transportation for kidnappers to Cuba or Algeria with lawyers present

  • The rehiring of about 450 postal workers laid off for their

  • support of the FLQ

  • To end of all police searches relating to the case

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • On October 16th, the War Measures Act was put in place

  • This gave the government power to arrest or jail anyone suspected of associating with the FLQ.

  • This Act had high disregard for individual rights, which was reason for Trudeau’s hesitation

  • After put in place, Trudeau would not back down and within hours, police raids swept the province

  • They ended with 465 arrested or detained suspects.

  • 59 days passed before James Cross was rescued and kidnappers were escorted by plane to Cuba residing for years before returning to Canada to face charges.

Bill 101
Bill 101 Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

Important clip #4:


Bill 22 and 101 the language legislation
Bill 22 and 101: The Language Legislation Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • Robert Bourassa helped to implement policies to help protect the status of the French language in Quebec.

  • This policy called Bill 22 became the first legislation created to toughen the position of French in Quebec.

  • It made it the official language of public administration and restricted English-Language schooling

  • French was encouraged in the workplace by forcing contracts with the government to be in French.

  • Bill 22 angered both Anglophones and Francophone's, going too far for the English and not far enough for the French.

  • For this Robert Bourassa, he was disliked by both groups and lost the 1976 election hugely.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • This legislation was soon outdated by the Charter of the French Language, or Bill 101

  • It was introduced in 1976 by the Parti Quebecois

  • The bill was proposed by Camille Laurin- the Minister of Cultural Development

  • It expanded on Bill 22 which defined the status of French in legislature, the courts, civil administration, public agencies, labor relations, commerce, business, and language of instruction.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

Bill 22 stated the following:

1) The right for people to have all government branches, corporations, employee associations, and enterprises in Quebec communicate in French.

2) The right of people to speak French in planned assemblies.

3) The right of workers to perform activities in French.

4) The right of consumers to be educated and served in French.

5) The right of people requiring instruction to be taught in French.

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

- Even though all children were forced to be taught in French, exceptions were made for the English speaking minority only permitted if strict limitations were met such as:

  • A parent was educated at an English school in Quebec

  • A parent had been educated in English outside Quebec but had lived in the province before August 1977

  • The siblings of the child were attending English school

    - If the parent was educated in English in another province, territory, or country, the child must attend a French school

Continued… Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

  • This legislation was seriously enforced and punishable by a fine of $25-$500 or $50-$1000 for a corporate body.

  • Businesses that ignored this were responsible to pay $100-2000 a day.

  • I.E: a shipment of Dunkin’ Donuts was found to have English only packaging and as a punishment, the whole shipment was burned.

  • Response to this Act was not positive, being looked at as authoritarian and a violation of individual rights.

  • 50,000 people left Quebec within 6 months and businesses that couldn’t use English threatened to leave.

  • In February, 1977, 100 head corporate jobs from the Royal Bank transferred to Toronto with many head offices. Because it posed a threat to individual rights, the Bill faced challenges

  • The “Quebec clause” was struck down on July 26th 1984.

  • This clause required at least one parent to have a primary education in English in Quebec for the child to attend an English-language school.

  • The section that required signs to be only in French was struck down as well.

Bill 1011
Bill 101 Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat

Important clip #5:


Pictures Nationale, Rene Levesque maintained his own seat