Quebec Studies

Québec Nationalism: After Twenty-Five Years

Quebec Studies (1987), 5, (1), 29–38.


Qu6bec Studies, No.5,1987 Q&BEC NATIONALISM: AFER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LouisBalthazar Qu6bec nationalism seems to be all over. Not only is the Parfi 9ue%his (long identified with nationalist aspirations, poliaes and projects) out of power, but this party is also considerably weakened by defections and dissensions. To most Quebecers, the ideal of political sovereignty appears more abstract and more remote than ever. Young people in Qu6bec are no longer moved by nationalism. Artists, poets, singers-who were so devoted to the nation in the sixties and seventiesare now inspired by other themes. This period may be appropriate for a serene reappraisal of the last twenty-five years of nationalist effervescence in Qu6bec. What were the most consistent objectives of nationalism for a majority of Quebecers? What went wrong? To what extent have those objectives been realized? Are French Canadians better off today than they were some twenty-five years ago? I will try to sketch out some answers to those questions. I will also attempt to project nationalism into the future by identifying the factors that could bring about an eventual revival. The Nationalist Objective If the message delivered by the new nationalism that emerged in Qu6bec in the early years of the Quiet Revolution had to be put in a nutshell, it would look something like this: Qu6bec became the "focus" and the "locus" of French Canadian assertion. The territory of the province of Qu6bec was newly consecrated as a homeland for the French Canadians. Consequently, Qu6bec could not be regarded as a province like the others since the government of that province perceived itself as entrusted with the special mission of promoting the development of a specific francophone community in North America. This is more or less what Premier Jean Lesage meant when he proclaimed in 1964: "Qu6bec has become the political expression of French Canada and plays the role of a homeland for all

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Author details

Balthazar, Louis