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The Quiet Revolution, which is a term applied to the changes that took place in Quebec from the late 1950's to the late 60's, was a time of great change in the province. The politics and social life of Quebec had been dictated by the Provincial Premier Maurice Duplessis since the 1930's and in a sense it was a throw back to the conservative movement in Quebec when Laurier was trying to break the church, business, nationalistic hold on the province in the 1890's.

Quebec had developed slowly under Duplessis and the Union Nationale and at the cost of personal freedom and real progress. A pent up demand for change was released when Duplessis died in 1959 and this was signified by the election of a Liberal government in 1960. Suddenly government action seemed to be the answer to everything. Taking control of the hydro-electric power in the province, nationalising industry and services, legislating rights for the French Canadians, many of who were beginning to describe themselves as Quebecois rather then any type of Canadian.

The sixties were a period of increased government involvement in social affairs in many western countries and Canada was no exception but in Quebec the restless energy of change incorporated a revived feeling of nationalism which Duplessis had suppressed for a generation. Young French Canadiens were looking at who ran their province and the English Canadian control over business and decision making. The general revolutionary tendencies in other countries and societies during that era took on a nationalistic twist in Quebec and a new feeling of independence and empowerment developed.

As the Liberals pushed through their dynamic changes provincially, the Federal Government plugged along under Diefenbaker and then Pearson with no real dynamic emphasis on change. Some who joined the Liberal revolution such as Rene Leveque pushed hard for the taking control of events by the government and hence, in his mind, the Quebecois, but as he came o recognize the limitations of the power of the provincial government, his believes evolved towards new frontiers and the choice between additional change through the powers of the Federal Government or re-establishing the rules and division of powers between the feds and the provinces. This was the first step towards sovereignty association or separatism.


Most Quebecers and Canadians felt that something was happening in Quebec, changes that were hard to identify, shifts in attitudes and objectives and an arising new option for French Canadians to consider. The young were ultimately influenced by the quickening pace of social change around the world and, for some, their sharp turn to the left also included the option of violence.

The term quiet really refers to change that occurred that was not announced, not broadcast, not displayed or described. It referred to the acceptance by many Quebecers that there might be another way, one that challenged the status quo, demanded equal rights for the French language, recognition of the Quebecois as a unique nationality with unique needs and aspirations and above all one in which the French Canadians were true masters in their own province.

The progression of this political change would ultimately lead to violence as objectives were not meet, aspirations unfulfilled and demands no caved into. This would lead to one of the most tumultuous and fierce confrontations in Canada over the place of the French Canadians in Canada and ironically the two leading protagonists would both be French Canadian with Pierre
defending Canadian Federalism and Rene Levesque fighting for an independent Quebec.