The Evolution of French Canada

By Jean Charlemagne Bracq | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT

THE Quebec Government was, in the Federation, a return to French autonomous life; often menaced, and twice nominally interrupted, but without absolute break of continuity. Less individualistic than their conquerors, French Canadians formed groups of intense friendship that became the root of their politics. When British traders endeavoured to ostracise them, and virtually deprived them of all their rights as British subjects, of all functions and of all honours, they kept close to each other. The unfairness of their isolation led them to seek the protection of the clergy. When prevented from having French law, French lawyers, and French judges, they settled most of their difficulties by arbitration.1 Compelled by their conscience to avoid British schools which, in their eyes, were means to anglicise and to protestantise them, they established their own. By being true to their own selves they showed a moral superiority that was bound to carry the day. Coming at an early date to understand their constitutional rights, they gradually claimed them. Though the masses were ignorant, somewhat as the masses were in the other provinces, the élite were far in advance of the English Canadians. Their strength came from an unfair treatment which forced them to live under a virtual moral republic.

Every militant and coercive act of the victors was ultimately turned to advantage. Lord North said in the British Parliament "I am sure that no bishop will be there under

____________________
1
Cavendish, pp. 111, 119; Garneau, Vol. II, p. 386.

-134-

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