Category: French-Anglo Relations

Jewish Folk

Quebec was a province of Catholicism and its government was very conservative (not the big C, but the little c).  It truly believes in preserving old customs, and following traditions that were made hundreds of years ago. The cultural/religious differences between French Canadians and Jewish folk was the main reason the French-Canadians were anti-Semitic (against Jews).

The Jews aren’t the only opposition of the French, in terms of religion. Most of the British were Protestant and there would always be religious conflicts between the Catholics (French) and the Protestants (British).

Now, the question lies: How did the French and the British start fighting and hating each other? Well, it started when French explorers (Champlain, Cartier, et al) claimed Canada for France. With this declaration, French civilization flourished for approximately 200 years.

Samuel de Champlain

In 1756, the Seven Years’ War started, which was a battle caused by the global conflict between Britain, France, and their respective colonies. It ended in seven years (hence the name) in 1763, with the British being victorious, and ending the French rule in Canada. The British defeated the French in the Plains of Abraham, and Canada becomes a British colony under the Treaty of Paris. The British do permit the French to pursue their Catholic faith and their culture (language and civil law).

In 1774, the Quebec Act was launched that further entrenches the rights of French Canadians. About a century later, in 1867, Quebec joins the Confederation, providing that the French rights would be protected. However, certain events and occurrences really dissatisfied the French Canadians. Some of these events include:

  • Riel uprising
  • Manitoba schools controversy
  • Boer War (a war where the Dutch were fighting against the British)
  • Naval Crisis (under Laurier)

The Anglo society in Quebec flourished under the British rule, whereas the French chose to be become isolated and adhere to their own culture.

The French culture that the French strongly adhered to are known as the 3F’s & C:


  • Regardless of British settlement in Quebec, Roman Catholic faith remained the dominant religion in the province until the mid-20th century
  • The Protestant and the Catholics had many conflicts which led to conflicts throughout Europe (Seven Years’ Wars, etc.)
  • The Church was involved in all aspects of French life: education, politics, land use, labour, etc.


  • Until the mid-20th century, most of French Canada had been rural, based on a long standing tradition of French Seignurial System
  • Farming is the central economic unit of French society and is the livelihood approved by the Church


  • French Canadian families are extremely large, compared to British families
  • Catholicism disapproves of birth-control (a message sent from the Church)
  • Large families are required to work family farms

Civil Law

  • The foundation of this law came out of the French Revolution, often referred to as Napoleanic code (based on the Roman Law)
  • This law covers private matters only: the legal attributes of a person (e.g. name, age of majority, etc); the relationship between individuals (e.g. marriage, adoption, parentage); property (e.g. possession, land boundaries); the legal institutions, governing or administrating these relationships (e.g. wills, sales, leases, partnerships); plain language, easy to understand and apply

The British were the dominant group in Canada. The French, however, were quite inferior to the British. They lost many of their rights, including their right to learn and be educated in the French language at schools (Bill 17).  Because of this hierarchy, the French had an intense hatred towards Britain. Regardless of their social status, the French had a huge amount of resources that the English required to survive and for the economy to be sustainable.

First World War

Canada’s affairs were still regulated by the British under the Confederation Act, and thus the declaration of war in 1914 led Canada into the First World War. At first, the British requested the French to join the fight, and promised there would be no conscription, according to Robert Gordon. However, the French hate the British. They wanted to be away from the British, not fight and die for them. They refused to fight in the war. The religious group in Manitoba, along with the Metis (related to Awmish) were pacifists; they don’t want to fight at all. This went on for some time, until in 1917, Robert Gordon was then forced to issue a conscription, which forced young men to go to war in Europe.

However, this conscription wasn’t very easy to pass. At first, for obvious reasons, almost no one, with the exception of the British, supported the idea of conscription. So, Robert Gordon cleverly thought of a way for more supporters of the conscription, and he issued the Military Voters Act. This Act extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Soldiers in war obviously would like to have more reinforcement, so the majority of them agreed to conscription. However, there still was more no than yes. So, Robert enacted the War-time Elections Act. This Act extended the right to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries. Mothers of soldiers would support conscription, since it would mean her son would return home more quickly. Along with these acts, propaganda played a a key role in promoting the idea of conscription and getting more voters to say yes to it.

The introduction of conscription brought about huge controversy.  Due to the conscription, it splits the country into 3 groups: the Anglos, the Prairie (farmers), and the French (Quebecois).  From the British’s perspective, the conscription is obviously reasonable. They argued that many soldiers were dying in Europe, and so they needed more solders. Because no one volunteered to do so, they were forced to enact the conscription. Plus, Prime Minister Trudeau’s famous quote, “When Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war, and there is no difference at all.” This quote is self-explanatory, where Trudeau explains how if the British are at our, Canada, which includes the French should definitely join in and help them. In addition, the British believed it was the French’s duty to protect their families and relatives by fighting for them. If Canada lost the war, the British hypothesized that the Germans would invade Canada and destroy the farmlands. Plus, back then, there was a huge glory to go at war, and return from it; it was very prestigious. The British thought that if more people were sent to war, the war would end sooner; sooner you go, the sooner you will come back. These were the arguments conveyed by the British people in response to the conscription.

The farmers, however, had a much different view on the conscription. They believed that farming was the central economic unit. If young men were sent off to war, who would do the farm work? If there is no farming, then there would be little food, resulting in an inflation. Plus, farmers were quite pacifists; they did not believe in wars. Obviously, farmers are not experienced in combat, so sending them off to war is almost certain-death.

The French people argued that because of Bill 17, they weren’t able to learn English very well, and when in battlefield, having a barrier in communication can be deadly. And because they are forced to fight for a nation they hate very much, their performance will reflect their hatred, i.e. they won’t fight very well in the war. If you send people to their deaths purposely, you can expect there to be major riots.

There were many riots in streets because of the conscription.

Eventually, people became quite fed up with this conscription. People voted against this conscription, and voted for another government party, and soon this conscription was abolished.

Map of Quebec

Quebec during the first half of the 1900s was extremely conservative. The Roman Catholic Church held a huge amount of power. After the Great Depression, Canada was shifting its gear to centralisation. However, Quebec, being the conservative province it was, didn’t support this shifting. To ensure that Quebec remains conservative, it elected a new leader: Maurice Duplessis. This man was in power from 1936 to 1939, and then into power in 1944 till death (1959).

Duplessis believed there were two main points that would protect Quebec from centralisation:

  • A provincial government entrusted to a party completely divorced from the federal parties (that often considered their provincials counterparts as under their control); in this respect, Duplessis led the Union Nationale Party, a party completely independent from any other party; it was the only “all Quebec” party in the province
  • Insistence on the respect of the autonomy, fiscal or otherwise, of the province

Duplessis had a ‘banker’s conception of centralisation.  He saw himself as the guardian, indeed the custodian, of the traditional values

and of the culture of the people of Quebec. As the Premier of the French-Catholic province, he was given a sacred trust to safeguard these values and to keep them away from those who would do harm to them, change them to assimilate the people of his province into the foreign and “liberal” culture of the world that surrounded the province. Plus, if Quebec were to become centralised, then it would need to share its wealth with the rest of Canada, i.e. lose money. He also disapproved the formation of trade unions because of its communist ideologies. In essence, he didn’t want Quebec to change at all; extremely conservative.

He wrote the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Problems, which is a report describing the problems of taxation and constitutional problems of Canada. There were 4 main points in this report:

  1. By using an inordinate proportion of the tax allocation that far exceeded the cost of federal services;
  2. By invading fields of exclusive provincial jurisdiction mainly through conditional subsidies;
  3. By securing amendments to the constitution without the consent of the provinces “as parties to the original agreement.”
  4. By using federal revenues institutions to encourage social, cultural and educational uniformity in Canada; this was called federal  “imperialism” and would result in the imposition of a cultural system incapable of oppressing American influence in the future

Some in Quebec did not want Duplessis to be in power for such a long time. Some people wanted to change, i.e. not as conservative as Duplessis was. However,  back during this time period, the Roman Catholic Church held unbelievable power. The Church was pro-conservative, and thus Duplessis was able to stay in power, no matter the opposition. Not only that, the Church had much power over the education of people. Cleverly, the Church purposely did not teach their students about critical thinking or any advanced studies, in case their students question whether God is real or not, and start rebelling.

Roman Catholic Church

The period in which Duplessis was was in rule of Quebec was referred to as “The Great Darkness,”  because there were many secrets and important facts kept away from the public; an era of corruption where Quebec made no social, political or economical advancements. In other words, Quebec was left in the dark.

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a paramilitary group, who was very left winged; they believed in socialism and nationalism. These people were considered terrorists in the eyes of the British, whereas some Quebecois saw these people as heroes. The FLQ was responsible for 8 deaths with approximately 160 violent attacks on civilians. This terrorist organization endorsed the Quebec Sovereignty Movement. This movement was essentially a political movement that wanted Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada and become an independent nation. In addition, it declared that the members of the FLQ would rebel against anyone that were considered “Anglo-saxon” imperialism. It also wanted to overthrow the current Quebec government, and along with the separation from Canada, it wanted a French-speaking society with only Francophones. This group caused much chaos, but its peak and most destructive affect on Canada was known as the October Crisis.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

The October Crises occurred from a chain reaction of other events which lead up to the kidnapping of two politicians: James Cross and Pierre Laporte. James was kidnapped on October 8th, and Pierre was kidnapped on October October 10th when he was playing football with his nephew on his front lawn. During this month, Premier Bourassa formally requests the government of Quebec (i.e. Prime Minister Trudeau) having “emergency powers” that allow them to “apprehend and keep in custody” people, i.e. members of the FLQ. This request ultimately resulted in the enactment of the War Measures Act. Some opposed Trudeau’s response of enacting the War Measures Act, such as Tommy Douglas who was a Social-democratic politician, but most of the public agreed with his decision.Trudeau’s famous quote “Just watch me” when asked how far he would go to stopping the FLQ. He wanted this group to be abolished as soon as possible.

In the end of the October Crisis, however, unintentionally, the FLQ strangled Pierre Laporte, killing him. This was an accident, which made the FLQ appear weak because they longer had two powerful hostages who they could use to negotiate with the government. So eventually, the FLQ were forced to disassemble to prevent any death of the members in the 1970s, with the release of James Cross unharmed.

Roman Catholic Church

While the FLQ were busy with their terrorism, Quebec was undergoing a period known as the Quiet Revolution. This revolution occurred during the 1960s. This was one of Quebec’s most important period of time, in that after the death of Duplessis in 1959, Quebec started  revolutionize, in that society became more secular. The Roman Catholic church, which one had an immense amount of power, particularly in education, now was starting to lose power. In fact, health and education affairs was now dealt with the Canadian government; the Church were relieved of this power. By doing so, the education and health system of Quebec expanded unbelievably. The Church would purposely deny teaching students about critical thinking, in fear they might grow to question whether God was real or not. However, the government expanded education, and thus more intelligent people were in society. Society in Quebec was slowly transforming from a conservative province to a nationalist during this revolution.

After Duplessis’s death, a new government was elected: a liberal government. Because of this, the Quiet Revolution was able to take place. Its leader, Lesage, changed Quebec and brought it to an era of much advancement. In 1966, there was a new election. The Liberal Party was expecting to win another election, but lost against Daniel Johnson in the conservative Union Nationale Party, a party that Duplessis created in hopes of separating from Quebec. People believed that Lesage lost due to his lack of interest in local, regional, and rural issues. This election was what stopped and interrupted Quebec’s transformation into a nationalist province.


In Canada, there were (and still are) fewer French speakers than English speakers. The British dominated high level government positions, executive positions, such as banks, public works & utilities, military, and the police (RCMP). The French received lower income than the British, and they also received a lower quality of education, in comparing to the British. This type of discrimination is known as systematic racism (further explained in the First Nations part of the blog).

Eventually, regardless of systematic racism, Quebec was starting to form a separatist/sovereignist government. The current prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, was a peace-keeping type of person, so he formed the 1968 Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (generally referred to as the “B and B Commission”).  This commission recommended the formal recognition of French-speaking Canadians as a distinct and equal society within Canada. Plus, the Commission rejected the creation of two uniligual regions in Canada, where French would be spoken mostly in Quebec, and in the rest of the nation, English would be spoken. Instead, this Commission recommends that both languages are spoken on equal terms throughout the whole nation.

In 1968, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau came into office. Trudeau is a federalist; lefty. He believes in unity of Canada, and utterly disapproves of having Quebec separated. He believes “unity through separation.” If he provides Quebec with their wants and needs, then they will continue being part of Canada. Thus, with that in mind, he issued the Official Languages Act in 1969. This legislation declared French and English to be the official languages of Canada while requiring all federal institutions (such as government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations) to provide their serves in French or English at the customer’s choice. Plus, this Act made the office of Commissioner of Official Languages to oversee its implementation. This Act was broadened in 1988. In addition to the Official Languages Act, the federal government adopted a strategy of increasing the number of French-speaking and bilingual personnel. There were two important reasons for this initiative:

  1. To ensure all Canadians had the ability to receive any government-related services in both English and French
  2. To increase the number of French-speaking Canadians working in the federal public service

Along with those initiatives, the government launched the Official Languages in Education Program. This program provides provinces and territories funding to teach students the second language or a minority language in both official languages. Plus, French immersion education was introduced where students receive most of their education in the French. Other initiatives were taken by the government, such as the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, to appease the French people and to prevent any separation from occurring in Canada.

In 1974, the Quebec Liberal Government launched the Official Languages Act, which made French the official language of the province.  All these actions by the government to make the French happy and  “welcomed” and how Quebec is slowly becoming a complete dominant French province demonstrates how Canada is gradually transforming itself from a melting pot to a mosaic. No longer does French people have to be controlled by the British; they can speak and have the culture they had for generations or adopt new ones if they wish to do so.

Trudeau’s intention with all these acts and legislations was to make the French a distinct society. However, the First Nations of Canada started to become upset; they questioned why the French get their own distinct society, and they do not. Canada responds by saying if the First Nations are given the ability to make their distinct society, there would be hundreds of distinct society, making Canada a very complex nation.

Trudeau wanted to make Canada a just society. In a just society, there are two components: equality and fairness. Because Trudeau is a lefty, he emphasizes equality, and thus suggests that the Indian Act be abolished so that everyone is on equal footing. What he failed to understand is that without this Act, more problems and conflicts would occur within Canada (explained why in the First Nations post).

However, Quebec still wanted to become independent and away from “Canada.”Canada didn’t want that, and in 1987, the Meech Lake Accord took place. In this accord, there was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and ten provincial premiers, including Quebec’s premier, Robert Bourassa. During this conference, Quebec’s premier was required to sign, saying it will not separate from Canada and follow the Constitution of 1982, and in return receive many benefits, which include:

  • A distinct society
  • Increase in provincial government’s power
  • Be able to select their own senators

The Province of Manitoba refused to sign during the Meech Lake Accord

Everyone signed, except for the Province of Manitoba. Now, you may ask why? When you make the British happy, and the French happy, there’s always the third group who becomes aggravated: the First Nations. The First Nations argued that these large decisions are not made without their consultation and won’t sign without being properly informed of what was going on. A man named Elijah Harper (a First Nations cree politician from Manitoba) delivered an elaborate speech during this conference. It was such a long speech that deadline for the accord was met. Thus, the Meech Lake Accord ended without any result.

Because of the failure of Meech Lake Accord, the government held another accord, known as the Charlottetown Accord. The purpose of this accord was to make Quebec follow the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec disapproved of the Charter of Rights and refused to sign. Plus, when the votes were counted, it came to 49 YES and 51 NO. The numbers were unbelievably close, yet Quebec did not have to endorse the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Dominion- State attached to the British Crown and member of the British Empire. Although a Dominion may control its internal affairs, it must abide by the decisions of Great Britain when it comes to relations with foreign countries.

British Empire- Group that includes Great Britain and its colonies. In 1914, it was the largest empire in the world and its possessions extended to all continents. Canada help the status of Dominion. As relations between Great Britain and its colonies evolved, several colonies began to want more autonomy.

Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF)- Army formed in Canada in 1914 to serve overseas. The contingent was governed by British Armed Forces Law and held the status of a colonial troop.

Colony- Country that is not completely sovereign and is under the authority of another country.

Sovereignty- Characteristic of a State that is not under the authority of another State.

Imperialism- Movement designed to maintain the ties between Canada and the British Empire. Imperialists felt that Dominions must be considered as equal partners with the empire, not simple colonies.

Conscription- Recruiting system that ranks the population (as a rule, men only) by age. Some categories were then eliminated and people who would normally be exempt from duty were forced into service. In Canada, conscription was established by vote in the House of Commons.

Military Service Act- Law adopted on August 29, 1917 to gather 100,000 men as reinforcements for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The law, which contained numerous exceptions, was applied erratically. Although 99,561 people were conscripted as a resulted of the law, only 24,100 soldiers actually fought at the front before the end of the war.

French-Canadian nationalism- Henri Bourassa’s notion of nationalism law in the union of two founding peoples (anglophone and francophone) when Confederation was achieved by 1867. These two peoples were to be equal and enjoy the same privileges. This was in opposition to the dogma of imperialism.

Bill 17- Ontario government bill passed in 1912, which restricted French instruction in Ontario public schools. The law prompted great resentment among French-speaking populations across the country.

Military Voters Act- Law that extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

War-time Elections Act- Law which extended the right to vote to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same time refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries.