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Chronologies of Quebec History


Last revised:
23 August 2000

Chronology of Quebec Nationalism 1960-1991

Claude Bélanger,
Department of History,
Marianopolis College.
Sept. 11 
 Maurice Duplessis dies

June 20


Sept. 10

Jean Lesage's Liberals are elected; beginning of the Quiet Revolution.

Founding of Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale; dedicated to the independence of Quebec important role of André D'Allemagne, Marcel Chaput and Guy Pouliot.

Conseil d'orientation économique formed in Quebec City.
Formation of Mouvement laique de langue française.
Sept. 1 
Government of Jean Lesage refused to participate in the federal government's inquest into health services.
  Creation of the Office de la langue française.
Georges-Emile Lapalme appointed first Minister of Cultural Affairs.
Quebec forms Société Générale de Financement (SGF).
Provincial election under the theme 'Maitres chez nous'. Nationalisation of Hydro companies was the main theme. The successful campaign was spearheaded by René Levesque.
Nov. 28 
Large demonstration in front of Montreal Head Office of Canadian National Railways. Gordon "incident". Gordon claims that there are so few prominent French Canadians on the Board of the CNR because there is a lack of competent French Canadians.
  Creation by the Federal Government of Lester Pearson of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Bilingualism and Biculturalism. It will demonstrate in several volumes which appeared from 1965-1969 that Canada was in a state of crisis and that French Canadians are frequently at a disadvantage linguistically, economically and in the civil service. Headed by André Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton.
Plans for the nationalisation of Hydro electric companies are announced.
Formation of Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ); marked the beginning of several waves of terrorist actions taken in Québec from 1963-1972. Intellectual leaders of the movement were Charles Gagnon and Pierre Vallières. The latter is author of Nègres Blancs d'Amérique. While noisy, and attracting a great deal of attention, the FLQ never succeeded in attracting widespread support and remained always  a marginal movement.
  Creation of Ministry of Education headed by reformer Paul-Gérin Lajoie; this is seen as first step toward improvement of the Québécois position. A great deal of faith was put in education, as a tool for social promotion, during the Quiet Revolution.

Lesage announced that Quebec withdraws from some 29 federal-provincial programmes. Wins opting-out formula.

July 15 
Fédération Libérale du Québec splits from the Liberal Party of Canada. Henceforth, the provincial party is autonomous from the national party.
Oct. 10 
Visit to Quebec by Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen was seen as the symbol of past colonialism and her visit was not popular and opposed. Quebec City was the scene of large demonstrations and of police brutality;  the day is remembered in Quebec history as 'Samedi de la matraque'
  Major discussions surrounding the patriation of the Constitution took place. Fulton-Favreau formula rejected by Quebec.

Creation of Sidérurgie Québécoise (SIDBEC).

Feb. 27
Signing of first international agreement of Quebec with France. Beginning of periodic clashes with Federal Government over role and presence of Quebec in international affairs.
June Creation of Caisse de Dépot et de Placement. It was to be a major instrument in the plans to develop more the economy of Quebec and enhance the position of the French language and of francophones in the economy of Quebec. Various amounts collected by the Government of Quebec (pension funds, agricultural insurance, car insurance) are deposited and administered by the Caisse.
Creation of Société Québécoise d'Exploration Minière (SOQUEM).
June 6 
Lesage's Liberals defeated by the Union Nationale party led by Daniel Johnson. Johnson is known for his Egalité ou Indépendance stand. Years of constitutional wrangling were to follow. Caused by hardening of position in both Quebec and Ottawa.
  Centenary of Confederation. Much discussion around its meaning and its suitability in Quebec. Some put slogan "Cent ans d'injustice" on their license plates.
Department of Federal-Provincial Affairs renamed Dept. of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Lionel Groulx died. Occasion for reassessment of ultramontane forms of nationalism.
Visit to Quebec of President Charles de Gaulle. Occasion for his famous "Vive le Québec Libre" speech. Outrage in Ottawa and in the rest of Canada but many Québécois evidently pleased.
Mouvement Souveraineté-Association formed by René Lévesque. Lévesque published Option Québec shortly after.
Etats Généraux du Canada Français began. Very nationalist outlook
Feb 22 
Government of Quebec created Radio Quebec
June 10
A slate of candidates committed to channelling all the children of "immigrants" into French schools was elected to the Catholic School Commission of St. Leonard. Beginning of the St. Leonard School crisis that culminated in the passing of Bill 63 (1969).
June 24 
St. Jean Baptiste riots in Montreal. Demonstrators protested the presence of Pierre E. Trudeau. Trudeau gained much support across Canada for standing up to the demonstrators.
Oct. 12-15 
Founding of the Parti Québécois from Lévesque's Mouvement Souveraineté Association and Gilles Grégoire's Ralliement National. On October 26, the Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale is dissolved; members are encouraged to join the PQ.
A department of Immigration is organised.
Nov. 28 
Bill 90 issued. It renamed the Legislative Assembly of Quebec which will now be known as the Assemblée Nationale. First of several such decisions which will lead to the creation of Fête Nationale, Archives Nationale, Bibliothèque Nationale, Drapeau National etc.
Appointment of Gendron Commission to investigate the language issue in Quebec, particularly the situation of St. Leonard.
1968 - 1971  
  New constitutional phase; spearheaded by Pierre Trudeau. Will lead to Victoria Charter.
Oct. 23 
Bill 63 issued by Jean Jacques Bertrand government. First bill to promote the French Language in Quebec; in reality, the bill mostly guaranteed the right of parents to choose the language of instruction of their children. Very negative reaction throughout French Quebec. Language issue becoming radicalised.
Oct. - Dec. 
October events. Kidnapping of James Cross (British High Commissioner in Montreal) and murder of Pierre Laporte (Minister of Labour) by Front de Libération du Québec. Enactment of War Measure's Act by Federal Government. New Bourassa government showed little leadership. Much hysteria present in public, press and governments. Hundreds are arrested who will never be charged.
 It was evident that there was no general public approval of terrorist actions.
Jan. 18 
A regulation from Quebec made it compulsory for all English language schools to teach French as a second language.
Apr. 29 
James Bay development project is announced by Bourassa
June 23 
Victoria Charter is vetoed by Quebec. New article 94A is  not acceptable.
March 12 
The federal government accepted Quebec's requests that  family allowances be distributed under terms laid down by the provincial government. Ultimately, federal family allowances' amount shall be varied in such a way as to promote a higher birth rate. Eventually a provincial family allowance, along the same lines, shall be created.
Common front strike in. the public sector.
Gendron Report is published. Recommended one official  Language and two national languages for Quebec.
Bourassa government reelected; PQ won 30% of the vote although it now had one less seat than in the former legislature. Nevertheless, the PQ formed the official opposition.
July 30 
Official Language's Act (Bill 22) is enacted. Bill came under attack by extremists from both sides of the language debate.
Oct. 29 
National Assembly voted a Charter of Rights. Amended on several occasions afterwards to improve it further, the Charter made it compulsory for every provincial law, unless expressly excluded from its provisions, to conform to its terms. A 60% majority is necessary to amend its clauses. A Human Rights Commission was created. The Charter is the most comprehensive found in Canada. Under its terms, the signs provisions of Bill 101 were declared unconstitutional in 1988. Bourassa outlined the constitutional position of his 1975, Aug. demanded a veto for Quebec and a final say over matters of language, culture, communication, as well as an expanded role in immigration. Policy of "cultural sovereignty".
Sept. 15 
At a meeting with anglophone parents of Montreal West, Bourassa declared that they must learn to live with the language provisions of Bill 22 "or face the possibility of even more radical legislation later".
First Quebec-Ottawa agreement to expand provincial jurisdiction in the field of immigration.
Nov. 15 
Parti Québécois came to power on the promises of holding a referendum on sovereignty association (étapisme) as well as conducting themselves as "un bon gouvernement".
Aug. 26 
Bill 101 issued. Sweeping provisions to make French the dominant language in Quebec (Public Administration, education, economy). Restrictions are placed on the use of other languages (except native languages) in some areas (laws, signs, etc.). The anglophone community was evidently stunned by the content of the Bill but there was, obviously , great support for its provisions among francophones who saw it as the affirmation of their collective language rights.
Feb 20 
Signing of Cullen-Couture agreement expanding provincial role in immigration.
Formation of Banque Nationale following a merger of Banque Canadienne Nationale and Banque Provinciale.
Nov. 1 
PQ government released White Paper on Sovereignty Association; it was titled Quebec-Canada: A New Deal
Jan. 9 
Provincial Liberal Party released its Beige Paper outlining its constitutional proposals for a renewed federation. Massive decentralisation proposed. The Liberal Party thus had a credible leader (Claude Ryan) and a popular policy to face the referendum.
March 5 
Major revamping of the Civil Code of Quebec
May 20 
59.5% of Quebecers voted against the sovereignty association proposal in the referendum. During the campaign, Trudeau promised that a no answer would be interpreted as a yes for a renewed federation.
1981 Nov- April 1982  
  Patriation of the Constitution despite the objections of the Government of Quebec. A Canadian Charter of Rights was included and some of the provisions clashed evidently with clauses of Bill 101. Quebec lost its right of constitutional veto.
May 5 
National Assembly voted a Bill that exempted all past, current and future laws of Quebec from the provisions outlined in ss. 2, 7-14 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights (notwithstanding clause).
  Downward trend in the economy; high level of inflation and unemployment in Canada and Quebec. Political support for the Parti Québécois slipped considerably as well as support for independence. Ideological infighting lead to resignation of René Levesque and the defeat of the PQ in the elections of 1985.
June 20 
Order of Quebec medal created
May 17 
Levesque outlined Quebec's demands to join the constitutional framework: among the many provisions were exemption from most clauses of the Canadian Charter of Rights, exclusive jurisdiction over language and recognition of Quebec as a distinct society.
  On several occasions, notably at Saint Gabriel, the new Bourassa government outlined its constitutional demands: constitutional veto, limitation on the spending power of the Federal government, a role in the appointment of Supreme Court judges; recognition of the distinctive character of Quebec and improved powers over immigration. The new Mulroney government elected in 1984 was receptive to these points and eventually the other provinces agreed to a "Quebec round" of constitutional discussions.
Dec. 18 
National Assembly adopted Bill 142 which guaranteed social services in the English language in Quebec.
Apr. 30 
(confirmed on June 3) 
Signing of the Meech Lake Accord. Opposition of the PQ to several of the clauses; however it seemed clear that the majority of Quebecers supported its provisions
1987 June 23 - 
1990 June 23
  Discussions around Meech Lake Accord. The rest of the country was increasingly hostile to the idea of recognising Quebec as a distinct society. In the end, the Accord was not voted in Manitoba (role of E. Harper) and in Newfoundland (role of Clyde Wells); thus it died among bitter feelings in 1990.
Dec. 15 
Supreme Court pronounced unanimously against sign rules of Bill 101.
Dec. 21 
National Assembly adopted inside-outside rule for commercial signs (Bill 178). Much protest among anglophone Quebecers; this led to the founding of the Equality Party which eventually elected 4 members to the National Assembly. See the documents on Bill 178.
1989 - 1990  
  Climate of tolerance toward Quebec is deteriorating. Increase of pro nationalist feeling detected by several polls in Quebec.
July 25 
A group of discontented Federal Quebec M.P's form the Bloc Québécois headed by Lucien Bouchard.
Jan. 29 
The Allaire Report is submitted. Its content is to constitute the new provincial constitutional position of the Liberal Party. Massive decentralisation in 22 areas is proposed. It also proposed a Referendum by the Fall of 1992 if new constitutional talks with Ottawa failed. 
March 27 
The Bélanger-Campeau report is made public. It recommended that a referendum be held in the Fall of 1992 if constitutional negotiations were not successful.
Sept. 24 

The Federal government unveiled its new constitutional proposals. Reactions were cautious in Quebec; little support was expressed.