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3 Wisemen | Trudeaumania | October Crisis | Bilingualism | Petro Canada | 72 Super Series | Wage & Price Controls | 1976 Olympics | PQ Comes to Power | Interlude | Western Alienation | 1980 Referendum | The Constitution | Changing of the Guard

The Parti Québécois was first formed by René Lévesque as the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association in late 1867. Lévesque had joined the Provincial Liberals years before and as a Cabinet Minister led the charge to publicize the energy sector in Quebec. His constant battles against the English based business establishment pushed him more and more into the Quebec nationalists camp and by 1967 he had concluded that some form of sovereignty or separation from Canada was the only real solution to maintaining and strengthening French Canadian culture and its language. Several other notable figures on the Quebec political landscape, such as Jacques Parizeau and  Jérôme Proulx, soon joined him.

The other parties in Quebec, the Liberals, the Parti Créditiste and the Union Nationale had fought bitter election campaigns over the previous decade and in 1970 when the PQ contested their first election they managed to elect only 7 members. By he next election in 1973, they actually lost one seat and only had 6 members sitting  but they drastically increased their percentage of the popular vote to 30%. Although the Liberal majority had increased the support for the Parti Créditiste and the Union Nationale had collapsed and the PQ were able to form the official opposition.

Over the next 3 years the Liberal Government of Robert Bourassa was plague by scandals and incompetence. By 1976, the Quebec electorate was ready for a change and the main campaign theme that the PQ promoted was good government. An election was called by the Liberals for November 15, 1976. Although some turned back to the old Union Nationale, who elected 11 members, most deserted the Liberals for the PQ who won 71 seats, leaving the Liberals with just 26 seats. Although polls showed that the PQ could win the election it still came as a surprise to the rest of Canada that Quebec would actually vote a separatist government into power.

 

1976 Quebec Election

The PQ quickly turned their attention to their political agenda and the first bill hey introduced was Bill 1 which was to become Bill 101 or the Charter of the French Language which entrenched French as the only official language in Quebec and severely restricted the use of other languages in signage, education and a variety of other areas.

This and many other laws were only a prelude the real agenda of the PQ which was to hold a referendum on separation or as the PQ came to call the process, sovereignty-association. The referendum was to come in 1980 at a time that the PQ believed that the Federal Government was at it's weakest, but events and political changes were to surprise them and bring back it's strongest opponent Pierre
Trudeau
to face them during the referendum campaign.




Source:
Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html