Quebec: Social Union or Separation?

By Collins, Michael | Contemporary Review, March 1999 | Go to article overview

Quebec: Social Union or Separation?

Collins, Michael, Contemporary Review

The re-election of a sovereigntist Government in the Province of Quebec on 30 November, 1998, has given fresh impetus to speculation about the future of the province within Canada. The ambiguity of the election results makes the prospects more than usually cloudy.

Quebec is the largest of Canada's 10 provinces, and its 7.1m people (1996) make it the second most populous. Quebec is about the size of Alaska, and four times the size of France. The province covers 594,855 sq. miles in eastern Canada, bounded to the north by the Hudson Strait, to the west by Ontario, to the east by Labrador and the Gulf of St Lawrence, and to the south by New Brunswick and the United States. Quebec is the centre of French Canadian culture, containing 91 per cent of the country's French-speakers (francophones). About 80 per cent of the inhabitants speak some French; 1,009,520 list English as their mother tongue (1996 census). The chief cities are Montreal, the commercial and industrial centre, and Quebec City, the capital. The northern nine-tenths of the province lie on the forest-covered Canadian Shield. This area yields valuable timber together with large deposits of copper, iron, zinc, silver and gold. To the south lies the St Lawrence River, along whose banks are found the centres of agriculture and industry. The small farms of the lowlands produce principally dairy products, sugar beet and tobacco. The chief manufactures are refined petroleum, food products, motor vehicles, aircraft, railway equipment, clothing, furniture, iron and steel, chemicals and paper products. The province sustains a relatively small but significant banking sector and major efforts have been made with some success to develop telecommunications, microelectronics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Last November's election was fought for tactical reasons and not as a proxy for a referendum on separation. The separatist Premier, Lucien Bouchard, and his Parti Quebecois, stole a march on the opposition Liberals, who in April had elected a new leader, 44-year-old Jean Charest, upon the resignation of Daniel Johnson. Charest was the Federal Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke, one of the mainly English-speaking Eastern Townships. He had spent all his political life in the Progressive Conservative party at Federal level, becoming its leader in 1993 after it had been reduced to only two Members of Parliament under the short-lived leadership of Kim Campbell. Charest had had a meteoric rise, becoming a Minister in Brian Muironey's government at the age of 28. In the 1996 Federal election he had led his party back to a measure of respectability by winning 20 seats, and it was widely believed that, facing a tired Liberal government, the Conservatives would significantly improve on these results at the next Federal election. A lawyer by training, Charest had built a reputation on television as a personable, reasonable and competent promoter of the Federalist cause. And he was from Quebec. To the Liberals, Charest, although from another party, and inexperienced in Quebec provincial politics, appeared an attractive, indeed charismatic figure to present the Federalist alternative to a sovereigntist government which had satisfaction ratings of over 60 per cent. Lucien Bouchard had also been a Federal Progressive Conservative, sitting in the same Cabinet as Charest. He resigned and formed the Federal Bloc Quebecois, effectively wrecking the 1990 Meech Lake Accord, when, to persuade the other provinces to accept it, Charest produced a report which included a proposal to promote the English language in Quebec. Bouchard had succeeded the controversial Jacques Parizeau as premier of Quebec after the failure of the 1995 referendum, in which Bouchard was credited with bringing the separatists to the brink of victory. Now he was seeking a mandate in his own right, basing his case on his government's reputation for competence. In calling the election a year early, Bouchard once again demonstrated his mastery of tactics by ensuring that the campaign would be fought before the Liberals had results from the social union talks and from the five-yearly federal-provincial negotiations on equalization payments, due in 1999, to attract critical soft nationalist votes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Quebec: Social Union or Separation?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.