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Documents in Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

French Canadians and Jews

Official Statement Made by Notre-Dame Hospital at the Outset of the Strike

The English text of this statement is from the Montreal Gazette, Saturday June 16, 1934, p. 5. This translation has been checked, and corrected, against the French text as published in Le Devoir, June 16, 1934, p. 9 and L’Illustration, June 16, 1934, p. 5

The statement was communicated by René Laporte,
Superintendant of Notre-Dame Hospital

The authorities of Notre-Dame Hospital wish to inform the public about a dispute which suddenly arose at the hospital between the Bureau of Administration and the Medical Council, on the one hand, and the internes on the other

On February 14, 1934, the Medical Council of Notre-Dame Hospital considered applications addressed to the secretary for positions as internes during 1934-35, to commence June 15. The Council accepted all applications received from French Canadian medical students. One alone remained on the table, that of a Jewish student. As there were still vacancies to be filled, the Council recommended that the Jewish student’s application be accepted. There was not at the time, nor has there been since, any new application from a French Canadian student. On the contrary, there have been three resignations on the part of French Canadian students who had already signed their agreements, but who left the hospital on a question of remunaration.

These nominations have been sanctioned by the Bureau of Administration. They have been well-known to everyone from that date until the present.

At the beginning of June, the French Canadian internes made a request to the medical bureau in which they expressed their dissatisfaction at the hiring of a Jew in Notre-Dame Hospital. They suggested that his services be dispensed with, notwithstanding the contract which the hospital had made with him. This communication went before the council, which decided, after considerable deliberation, to respect the contract which it had undertaken with this doctor. The council sent this resolution to the Bureau of Administration, furnishing the explanation as requested in the case. The bureau, after further consideration, unanimously resolved to abide by the contract made by the hospital with the student, insisting that this contract had at no time interfered with the rights of any French Canadian candidate.

Following these different resolutions, the student internes still maintained their opposition. In the face of this insubordination, the council delegated one of its members to convey to them what would be the consequences of their attitude, as much from the hospital point of view as from the public standpoint in the circumstances.

After this interview, the internes still persisted in this attitude toward the hospital authorities.

On June 15, the date of commencement of their duties, they were asked to take up the positions to which they had been assigned. At midnight, June 14, all work ceased, and they refused to assist the surgeons in emergency operations that took place that night. They also refused to answer ambulance calls, etc.

Faced with this attitude, the council again met at 11h.30 a.m., June 15, when the members resolved to have the internes brought before them with the purpose of urging them to reflect on the hospital’s situation. The internes were to be called before the council in two separate groups. The first group included student internes under the authority of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, which was represented by its dean at the meeting. When this group was asked to appear before the dean, who wished to give them a full explanation of the matter, they refused to appear, aligning themselves with the graduate internes who formed the second group.

Against the refusal of each group to appear singly, the Council of Notre Dame Hospital in its turn aligned itself with the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and refused to hear the internes en bloc, because the two groups were not under the same authority. Student internes are under the exclusive authority of the dean, who represents the Faculty of Medicine, and the graduate internes are under the exclusive authority of Notre Dame Hospital, which was concerned in their case only.

In view of the internes’ attitude, which could only be considered as an act of serious insubordination, the hospital authorities requested them to resign.

The authorities of Notre Dame Hospital will receive with pleasure such applications for internship as may be addressed to them

© 1999 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College