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Last revised:
23 August 2000

Programme de la Ligue Nationaliste / Programme of the Nationalist League [1903]

The Program of the Nationalist League


It is reasonable to believe that Providence in giving Canada to England wished it to become familiar, by this conquest, and then by the usage of parliamentary institutions, with the enjoyment of liberty;

The Canadian people, in the usage of these institutions, have shown up to now, a greater and greater aptitude for self government; the self governing colonies of Great Britain pay her sufficient tribute in giving her, for military purposes, access to their ports and the use of their communication system; and that the mother country, despite this tribute and despite our voluntary preservation of the colonial tie in 1775 and 1812, has imposed, on several occasions, onerous and humiliating sacrifices, notably in its agreements with the United States;

Without denouncing a political state which nevertheless has compelled us to undergo two American invasions we note the necessity of opposing any tightening of the colonial tie because, above all, of the incompatibility of interests between an old European monarchy and those of a young democratic American country;

In fiscal matters, it would be dangerous for Canada to grant England a permanent title to particular favors, as well as to undertake permanent engagements with her;

The interest and security of Canada demands that it does not participate in the military organization of Great Britain;


For the maintenance and prosperity of Confederation, the federal power must respect the rights which the authors of the Constitution of 1867 wished to guarantee provinces and minorities, and consequently must only operate where the provinces have common interests;

Respect for the autonomy of the provinces leads necessarily to the modifying of financial relations between the two powers;


The federal and provincial governments, while inviting the co-operation of foreign capital in the development of our natural resources, must by sound internal policies, assure Canadians the possession of their heritage and the development among them of the national spirit,


constitute themselves into an association under the name of Canadian Nationalist League and undertake to work for the realization of the program enunciated below:

I. - For Canada, in its relations with England, the largest measure of political, commercial and military autonomy compatible with the maintenance of the colonial tie.

II. - For Canadian provinces, in their relation with the federal power, the largest measure of autonomy compatible with the maintenance of the federal tie.

III. - For all of Confederation, the adoption of a policy of exclusively economic and intellectual development.



(a) Absolute maintenance of the political liberties which belongs by right to all self-governing colonies of Great Britain and which the Constitution of 1867, in the opinion of its authors, guaranteed Canada.

(b) Opposition to all participation of Canada in the deliberations of the British Parliament and all permanent or periodical Imperial councils.

(c) Consultation with Parliament on the timeliness of participating in extra-ordinary conferences of countries of British allegiance and total publicity of the deliberations and decisions of these conferences.

(d) Absolute liberty to regulate our immigration from the exclusive point of view of our interests.

(e) The tabling at each Parliamentary session of all correspondence or official documents exchanged since the last session between the Canadian government and the Colonial Office or the governments of other British colonies.

(f) In the case of constitutional conflict between the federal government and provincial governments, the direct invoking of the judgement of the Privy Council. In all other cases, the restriction of appeals to provincial tribunals for provincial laws and to federal tribunals for federal laws.

(g) The rights of representation at all international congresses where Canadian interests would be involved and consultation with Parliament on the timeliness of taking advantage of this right.


(a) Absolute right to arrange and re-arrange our commercial treaties with all countries, including Great Britain and her colonies.

(b) Freedom to choose agents who will negotiate Canadian commercial interests directly with foreign chancellories.


(a) Abstention of all participation of Canada in Imperial wars outside of Canadian territory.

(b) Resistance to all attempts of recruiting by England in Canada.

(c) Opposition to the establishment of a navy school in Canada with the help and for the benefits of the Imperial authority.

(d) Direction of our militia and our military schools in times of peace as in times of war, from the exclusive point of view of the defense of Canadian territory. Absolute refusal of all leaves demanded by an officer for the purpose of taking part in an Imperial war.

(e) The command of the Canadian militia by a Canadian officer chosen by the Canadian government.


1. Absolute maintenance of rights guaranteed to the provinces by the Constitution of 1867 according to the intention of its authors. Respect for the principle of the duality of languages and the right of minorities to separate schools.

2. Modification of the base of federal grants to provinces by the following means:

(a) Abolition of the special grant destined for the maintenance of the legislatures and the proportional increase of the per capita grant.

(b) Determination of the per capita grant for each province according to the population recorded at the last census.

3. Administration of criminal justice by the federal government and its costs.

4. Nomination of judges of civil tribunals by provincial governments.


1. Determination of our customs policy from the point of view of exclusively Canadian interests.

2. Abolition of the system of state grants to private enterprises (railways, marine transport, etc.). Participation by the state in these enterprises (if it is essential to the public good) in the capacity of shareholder only and under the same conditions as other stockholders or in the capacity of a privileged creditor.

3. More efficient exercise, by the government, of its right to set the transportation rates and to determine the proposed lines and terminals of the railroads.

4. Adoption by the provinces of a more active policy of colonization and one more in harmony with their needs. Exclusive jurisdiction by ministers of colonization of the sale of land for agricultural purposes.

5. A more equitable sharing, between the different parties of Confederation of the money voted by the federal Parliament for the purposes of immigration and colonization.

6. The substitution for the actual system of permanent alienation of our hydraulic forces or water power, a system of renting by auction, by long-term leases.

7. Immediate reform of our system of forestry exploitation with a view of assuring the conservation of our forests as a source of public wealth. Annual publication of a statement indicating:

(a) The concessions of land and the cutting rights made during the year with its conditions.

(b) The total extent of forests being cut and those of virgin forests with specifications as exact as possible about the species of wood, sites, etc.

8. Development in school of a patriotic teaching suitable to giving the pupil a more correct notion of the beauty of our history and the resources of our country.

9. A more efficient regulation of the operations of insurance companies, mutual benefit associations, industrial and financial societies in general, the operations of the stock-market.

10. Adoption of suitable laws for the development in Canada of a literary and artistic output. Adhesion of this country to international agreements on literary property and the rights of authorship.

11. A more strict application of existing labor legislation and the adoption of new laws suitable for guaranteeing the security of work and the liberty of association.

Source: Joseph LEVITT, Henri Bourassa and the Golden Calf. The Social Program of the Nationalists of Quebec, 1900-1914, Ottawa, Éditions de l'Université d'Ottawa, 1969, pp. 151-154