Québec around 1980

René Lévesque (1922-1987)

It was the night of May 20, 1980, and Simon was with his father watching the referendum results on television.

“Dad, who’s René Lévesque?”

René Lévesque is the Premier of Quebec (from 1976 to 1985) and head of the Parti Québécois. René Lévesque is a sovereignist and believes that Quebec should be an independent country.  In this way, Quebeckers would be able to make their own decisions about their future. That’s why there’s a referendum tonight. He’s asking Quebeckers for permission to negotiate with Canada to make Quebec independent. I wonder which side is going to win, the YES or the NO? (In the end the NO side won with 60% of the votes)

What did René Lévesque do before becoming Premier of Quebec?

See French video at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/13/personnages-marquants/3966

A long time ago, René Lévesque was a journalist. He first worked in radio during World War II and in television during the Korean War. In 1960, he joined Jean Lesage’s Liberals and became Minister of Natural Resources. Throughout 1962, he worked very hard for the nationalization of electricity, and he was an important architect of the reforms of the Quiet Revolution. In the late 1960s, he began to think that Quebec could not develop its full potential within Canada. He left the Liberal Party to found the Parti Québécois, whose objective is the sovereignty of Quebec. He was elected Premier of Quebec in 1976.

Source: Archives de Radio-Canada, Le Québec se souvient de René Lévesque, 5 novembre 1987.

What did René Lévesque do after he was elected Premier of Quebec?

He made many changes to Quebec society. In 1977, he introduced Bill 101 to protect the French language in Quebec and created the Commission on Health and Safety to protect the health of workers. He also passed a law that regulated the financing of political parties.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix

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