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Documents in Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

Documents on Public Immorality in Quebec in the Duplessis Era / Documents sur l'immoralité publique sous Duplessis [1956]

Strike at the Root
Editorial, Toronto Globe and Mail,
Wednesday, August 8, 1956

An indictment of political practices in Quebec by a group described as the "liberal reform" clergy should not be limited to that Province. The evidences of political corruption are the result of a moral laxity which exists in some degree across the country. It involves the processes of government at all levels; not always in terms of bribery and subornation, but frequently, and with just as much damage to the public welfare, in terms of condoned carelessness in such things as the fulfillment of contracts and heedless disrespect for the laws and conventions which hold society together.

The abuses of which the group of Quebec clergy complain do not exist in a vacuum They are social consequences of the abandonment of patterns of behavior which civilized communities have evolved for their mutual welfare and individual comfort, as well as their progress as a community. They are in fact evidences of social decay, out of which the great reform movements of history were born.

The expose by the band of Quebec clerics (first reported by The Globe and Mail's resident Quebec correspondent, Mr. Robert Duffy) follows the classical pattern of all reform movements which have been successful. It comes from within the sound core of a community injured by its own abuses and suffering from its own civic and moral follies. Attacks from without are seldom it ever as efficacious in dealing with such situations as are these community-generated appeals to conscience and self-respect.

A national movement of similar design could do a great deal for the material welfare of the Dominion, to put the matter on no higher level than that for the moment. Fiscal policy, foreign relations, inter-provincial contacts and civic management all suffer from the blight of indifference. Human values as well as ethical concepts are degraded by such indifference, and there is no cure but the rediscovery of those values and of the means by which they are sustained.

That these values have their roots in the homes, schools and churches of the people is a truism whose perpetual recommendation is that it is true. It is to the essential quality of that truth that successful reform movements must be directed. It is to that end that conscientious and courageous groups in every Province should become active if they wish to eliminate hoodlumism, motor-slaughter, and all the growing list of major and minor abuses which make life less comfortable as prosperity and the means to support true social comfort become more available.

Canadians generally are not unaware of the condition in their various communities. But what they overlook is that cynical acceptance, even when accompanied by expressions of distaste, are just as effective as active participation in encouraging the growth of these evils. The Quebec clergy are to be commended for striking at such acceptance as the root of the trouble, and we could wish for nothing better for the Dominion than that sincere groups all across the land would be inspired to follow their example.