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Last revised:
23 August 2000

French Canadians and Jews

Interne Strike Won as Hebrew Resigns Office

Montreal Gazette, Tuesday June 19, 1934, pp. 1, 11

The hospital internes’ strike is ended - in a victory for the 75 young medicos who walked out, regardless of emergency operations, because a Jew had been taken as one of them at Notre Dame Hospital. It ended last night, when the internes once more acknowledged their duty after Dr. Sam Rabinovitch, unwitting cause of the strike, resigned from his position at the institution. They went back to work at 7.30 p.m.

Five hospitals whose internes had walked out following Dr. Rabinovitch’s nomination were represented at a lenghty meeting of the medical board of Notre Dame hospital yesterday afternoon, at which Dr. Rabinovitch was accepted.

"The internes have returned to work, and we have agreed to accept them", said a brief statement by Rene Laporte, superintendant of Notre Dame hospital after the meeting [...].

Dr. Rabinovitch insisted that his resignation be accepted, it was stated in Mr. Laporte’s explanation, although "the board protested against such action".


[following the return of the internes] "Their decision apparently ended the fear which had been expressed by authorities of several local French-Canadian hospitals, that there would be a general walk-out on the part of the internes. To prevent such a contingency, which might have been of life and death importance to several of the institutions from which the internes quit, it was decided by the medical board of the Notre Dame Hospital to meet the strikers’ representatives yesterday afternoon. Despite explanations of the danger of the situation by board members, the internes still protested, and reiterated their threats to remain out on strike, even going to the length of stating that they would try to induce other internes to join them.

Dr. Rabinovitch rose. and asked quietly if he might say a word. "I know the situation is very bad and threatens to become worse," he said. "On Sunday night I prepared a letter of resignation. I do not want to be the cause of a general walkout on the part of men in the medical profession, and I am only one compared with 75 other young men who wish to study it. I therefore present my resignation on the grounds stated in my letter". (The letter had previously been handed to the board, but had not at first been accepted)

"I hope that this is satisfactory to members of the medical board", the young doctor added, "and I hope that my fellow internes will return to their duties immediately."

The resignation was not accepted without protest. Members of the board declared that Dr. Rabinovitch’s services had been retained under contract, and that that contract could not be broken. Such arguments, however, brought only further expressions of insistence on his decision from the interne. Finally the board decided to accept his resignation; and thereupon informed the strikers’ representatives that his services would be dispensed with.

The strikers’ spokesmen flashed word of their "victory" to those who had quit with them, and all 75 internes went back to their duty at once. While they apologized to hospital authorities for their action, they claimed that to them there was no other course open.


© 1999 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College