1960 – The Quiet Revolution
The Quiet Revolution began in 1960 with the election of the Quebec Liberal Party and lasted until the end of the 1970s. After more than 15 years of conservatism under Maurice Duplessis (1944-1959), the new Premier, Jean Lesage, and his team began a series of reforms in the 1960s aimed at modernizing the Quebec government and society.
One of the priorities of Jean Lesage’s government was to secularize the Quebec state, that is, to officially separate the power of the Church from that of the provincial government. Until then, the Catholic Church was very close to the government and controlled health and education systems in the province. With the creation of the Hospital Insurance Plan (in 1961) and the Department of Education (in 1964), the government removed the Churches control over two of the most important institutions in Quebec society. From then on, the Quebec government was seen as a government that represented people of all religions and there were no longer religious connotations tied to the services offered to Quebec citizens.
In 1960, the majority of Quebecers were low-skilled workers and relatively poor. The incomes of French people were are among the lowest in Canada. In the 1960s, the majority of large companies were controlled by English Canadians.
To improve living conditions in Quebec, the provincial government decided to give more economic power to French speakers. Firstly, it decided to improve access to education in the province. This allowed Quebecers to improve their economic situation by hold better jobs.
The government also created institutions such as the Caisse de dépôt et de placements (1965) and the Société générale de financement, whose missions were to develop the Quebec economy.
In 1962, the Quebec government nationalized electricity production by combining all of Quebec’s private electricity companies into Hydro-Québec. Hydro-Québec quickly became the largest company in Quebec.
During the Quiet Revolution, several projects were launched to support a new type of Quebec nationalism that was associated with liberal values. This new nationalism contrasted with the very traditional nationalism of Duplessis. Many of the actions taken by the government during the Quiet Revolution were aimed at empowering Quebecers and promoting Quebec’s interests within Canada. Eventually, this nationalism gave rise to the Quebec sovereignty movement, which believed that Quebec should separate from Canada to form an independent country.
Alexandre Lanoix. RECITUS. Translated by LEARN.