Emergence of the Independence Movement

The 1960 defeat of the Union Nationale government by Jean Lesage's Liberals is usually cited as the beginning of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec.

This term defines the period when Quebec society and poiltics were radically changed. However, clerical influence was on the decline by the Second World War, while the union movement was challenging employers and state in the 1930ies. With the automobile, radio, and other elements of consumer society, the popular classes had been undergoing a long process of integration American values to the local culture. With all these developments nationalisme developed.

The Lesage government of Quebec implemented education and health-care reforms using the slogan Masters in our own House (Maitres chez nous). The government intervened in the economy through the nationalization of the remaining private electricity companies and the creation of new corporations.

Rene Levesque, a key member of the Lesage government captured the public imagination with his effective political style, his personal honesty and nationalist message : We in Quebec feel it is essential that the responsibility for resources must rest with us at the provincial level. It is of vital importance to French Canadaian that the day-to-day handilng of economic affairs such as planning and policy making, whatever their nature, be left to us. We Quebecois are the only ones who can do this. Otherwise we will never get on our feet (Levesque in 1961).

In 1968 Rene Levesque left the Liberal Party and formed the Mouvement Souverainete Association. He was joined by RN and RIN - two independist parties.

Together they formed Parti Quebecois in 1969. With Quebec independence as a banner unifying its diverse political elements, the PQ won 24% of poplar vote in its very first election. But other, radical and revolutionary elements emerged, which rejected the democratic process as a means to obtain independence.

The October Crises of 1970 was the most important manifestation of the extremist views in Quebec, which once again was on the brink of war.

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