A People's History of Quebec
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The number of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland dropped while more and more people came from Spain, Portugal, and above all from Italy. Montreal continued to attract most of Quebec’s new immigrants. Duplessis was back in power after the general elections of August 1944. Provincial autonomy was high on his government’s political agenda. Returning from a federal-provincial conference in 1946, Duplessis declared: “The autonomy of the province, the rights of the province, therein lays the soul of a people, of the race, and nobody will be allowed to do it any harm.
An order in council on January 21, 1948 officially made the fleur-de-lis Quebec’s flag. It comprised a white cross and four white lilies on a blue background, a clear reminder of Quebec’s roots in France. For one reporter with The Montreal Gazette, the flag was adopted mainly because of the looming Quebec elections. The policies of the Union nationale combined with the prevailing political climate resulted in a divided population. Movies in Quebec were severely censored by a government agency. Communists and Jehovah’s Witnesses were targeted for repression, and the Catholic clergy held pervasive power.
It is said that the secret ballot will protect people from having to vote against their convictions out of respect for others, however convictions that conflict with public opinion cannot be honest in politics. ” The first Quebec general elections with a secret ballot were held on July 7, 1875. Wilfrid Laurier, who was gaining strength in the Liberal Party, endeavoured to clarify his party’s position. During the campaign he declared: “We are liberal like those who are liberal in England; we are liberals like O’Connell!
René Lévesque and his supporters immediately bolted from the meeting. One month later the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association (MSA) (Sovereignty Association Movement) was founded. The MSA was the forerunner to the Parti Québécois founded a year later. On the federal scene, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, head of the Liberal Party of Canada, was elected Prime Minister on June 25, 1968. His outspoken opposition to both French Canadian nationalism and to the idea of Quebec independence foreshadowed the epic battles to come.
The bill to indemnify those in Lower Canada who had suffered losses during the revolts of 1837 and 1838 brought things to a boil. The main point of contention was the demand that indemnities be granted to those who had lost property due to the brutality of the troops and English-speaking irregulars. The beneficiaries were only those who had not been convicted by the courts in relation to the Patriote uprising. Proponents of the bill insisted that it was only natural to indemnify people in Lower Canada since the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada had already indemnified those who had experienced similar losses following the rebellion in Upper Canada.