Photographic book

René Lévesque


Montreal city in 19th
Montreal city in 19th

In 1976 Québec elected René Lévesque’s PQ as its provincial government. During the campaign, the PQ had pledged to consult the province in a referendum before implementing its policy of sovereignty-association. The PQ government introduced both social programs and nationalist measures. Rejecting bilingualism, the PQ legislated French as Québec’s sole official language. French quickly challenged English as the language of commerce. The shift was particularly dramatic in Montréal, which had long been dominated by its English-speaking minority. In 1980 the promised referendum took place. Québec voters were asked to decide whether the province should negotiate with Ottawa toward achieving sovereignty-association. However, the vote was 60 percent against and 40 percent in favor.

Trudeau, who had promised a new constitutional deal during the referendum, moved in with his own constitutional agenda: “patriating” the British North America Act (BNA Act) passed by the British Parliament in 1867. Patriation would make the BNA Act a Canadian constitution that could be amended by Canadians.

Trudeau also promised to add a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the constitution. Trudeau’s constitutional package offered none of the additional powers the provinces had been seeking, but both patriation and the charter were popular. Trudeau achieved both in 1982 despite the opposition of the government of Québec. For Québec sovereigntists, the patriation of the constitution against Québec’s will and without meeting its demands for greater powers became an added grievance. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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