The Quiet Revoultion in Quebec

The election of the Liberals of Jean Lesage in 1960 in Quebec unleashed the floodgates of profound and intense change. This change was so sudden, so deep and widespread that it received the name of Quiet Revolution (Revoultion Tranquille).

In this era of modernization, values, ideas and institutions were all questioned. The role of the Roman Catholic Church, of the political establishment, of the State was submitted to the same pressure. French language became one of the main issues.

The period of change in Quebec was characterized by the rapid and effective secularization of society, as the State took over schools and hospitals (they had been built on religious base). Churches nearly emptied. Moreover, the Quebec society became profoundly secularized and Church influence fell to nearly nothing. The creation of a welfare state and a re-alignment of politics into federalist and separatist factions were some of other important changes.

In fact, the provincial government took over the field of health care. It created ministries of Education and Health, expanded the public service, and made massive investments in the public education system. The government took measures to increase Québécois control over the province's economy.

The nationalization of the province's electric companies under Hydro-Québec took place. In 1962, the Liberal party called for a new election, and it returned to power with an increased majority in the National Assembly. After the elections of 1962, more public institutions were created to follow through with the reforms. The public companies SIDBEC (iron and steel), SOQUEM (mining), REXFOR (forestry) and SOQUIP (petroleum) were created to exploit the natural resources.

The Société générale de financement or General financing corporation was created as well to encourage Quebecers to invest in their economic future and to increase the profitability of small companies.

Later, in 1963, Quebec created its own Quebec Pension Plan (Regie des rentes). A new Labor code was adopted in 1964 and the Civil Code was modified. Curiously enough, the revolution led to changes in many domains.

For instance, within ten years Quebec went from being the province with the highest birthrate in Canada to having the lowest birthrate in Canada. The change in mentality was very visible… The period of the Quiet Revolution has ended in October 1970, with the October Crises, but Quebec's society has continued to change.

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