Canadian History Essay
However, without influence from the past, their relationships would not be what it is today. The development of the French and English relationship follows a long and complicated history. Throughout history, tensions between French and English Canada have been evident. Looking back at World War I and II, one of the key issues that divided English and French Canada was conscription. Quebec was against conscription, while English-Canada supported it. However, this is not the only issue that influenced the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Throughout history, there have been many defining moments which have influenced this relationship. This essay will outline three defining moments. The first one is ‘the October crisis’, which caused a national sense of crisis when a French separatist group kidnapped 2 government officials. Then, the passing of Bill 101 which brought a controversy both inside and outside of Quebec. And thirdly, ‘The Constitution of 1982’ which changed the contract that linked Quebec to the rest of Canada. These three defining moments have greatly helped to establish the character of the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
In October 1970, when the Front de Liberation du Quebec kidnapped a British trade commissioner, following a demand of $500,000 in gold, ‘the October Crisis’ arose. 5 days later, they kidnapped Pierre Laporte and the War Measures Act was passed. The FLQ was a French separatist group which used violent terrorist tactics to fight for Quebec’s independence. Nevertheless, most Quebeckers felt hatred toward the FLQ and did not want to be associated with them. As the violence grew, the federal government took charge. Well, just watch me” (another enthusiast, 2010) were the infamous words uttered by Trudeau when questioned how far he was willing to go to maintain order. The federals however opposed Trudeau’s passing of the War measure Act, especially for the first time in a non-war period. In fact, they thought Quebec was over-reacting. Furthermore, hatred from English Canadians, who thought the French were getting ‘special rights” grew. In response, this worsened the French’s hatred to the rest of Canada as they resented English-Canada’s reaction to the crisis.
In the end, the FLQ were granted a safe passage to the Cuba as everyone was tired of them. However, French nationalists and separatists who were falsely accused and arrested never forgave the experience of being jailed. As a result, separatists became more determined to overthrow federalism, and their numbers grew. Another defining moment that influenced French and English relationships in Canada , was the passing of Bill 101-the charter of French language by the separatist group,’ Parti Quebecois’. With their goal of making Quebec as French as Ontario is English (wikispaces), French was made the official language of Quebec.
The bill declared that French was to be the language for every facet of life in the province: government, education, advertising, business etc. (Claude Belanger, 2000). In reaction to the new laws. English-Canadians outside of Quebec and Anglophone Quebeckers were slow in accepting them. They incorrectly believed the bill was harsh, unfair and in violation of basic human rights. The view that French was a threatened language was objected. In response, English-owned head offices moved from Quebec to Toronto, and many others left Quebec to settle elsewhere.
Natives and immigrants as well as farmers also opposed and questioned why the French were getting “special rights” and they weren’t. Although Bill 101 received widespread support from the French community, the rest of Canada’s reaction aroused hard feelings in Quebec. As more hard feelings arose, changes were made and as new laws were passed, articles within Bill 101 which violated these news laws were changed. One example of when changes were made to Bill 101 was in 1982, when the new Constitution Act was passed. The Constitution Act of 1982 was based on an accord reached between the federal government and the nine provinces, having and English-speaking majority” (Leslie, 1986, pg. 8). In the preceding year, Quebec had worked closely with seven other provinces to block the federal government’s proposals for constitutional reform. Their alliance however broke apart when a compromise agreement imposed upon Quebec against its will was worked out. Quebec felt betrayed by their former allies because the new constitution reduced Quebec’s ability to govern themselves.
The Quebec government reacted by reinforcing its isolation and suspended normal relations with the ten other governments. Later, the Canadian prime minister along with all ten provinces made changes to recognize Quebeckers as “distinct people” within Canada. However, this aroused opposition in the rest of Canada, and it failed. For most, it was a day of immense pride because Canadians now had their own constitution and were no longer dependent upon Britain to change it. However, to this day, for some Quebeckers, “the 1982 Constitution Act stands as an unhealed sore and a symbol of Quebec’s exclusion and defeat” (Leslie, 1986, pg. ). Throughout history, there have been many defining moments which have influenced and helped to establish Quebec’s relationship with the rest of Canada up to the present day. This essay outlined three major events which have played a role in this relationship. Firstly, ‘the October Crisis’ which fuelled English-Canada’s hatred toward French for receiving “special rights” to pass the ‘War Measure Act’. Secondly, the passing of Bill 101 which aroused hard feelings in Quebec because of the controversial response from the rest of Canada.
And finally, ‘The Constitution of 1982’ which was worked out against Quebec’s will, thus harsh feelings arose. As you can see, these three defining moments in history have strained French and English relationships in Canada. As changes were made to these events, Quebec became to be known for its ‘uniqueness’, and today it stands as almost a separate country, but in association with the rest of Canada. Works Cited Book (Print) Bolotta, Angelo. Canada, face of a nation. Toronto: Gage Education, 2000