Chapter 2: Political Culture


CBC Archives

The Conquest of Quebec
Much of Canada's present political culture bears the imprint of events that occurred centuries ago. One such event was the 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City, which led to the conquest of Quebec by the English crown. In this report we meet Andrew Wolfe Burroughs and Baron Georges Savarin de Marestan, descendants of Generals Wolfe and Montcalm, the two adversaries on the Plains of Abraham more than 250 years ago.

Quebec's Quiet Revolution
The decade of the 1960s is known in Quebec as the Quiet Revolution, a period of mostly peaceful but immense economic and social change in the province. A turning point was the election of the Union Nationale in 1966 under Daniel Johnson. A week after the June 5 election, CBC's Sunday Morning Magazine asked some tough questions. Where did Lesage go wrong? What did Johnson do right? And what will these results mean for Quebec's future?

De Gaulle Visits Montreal and Stirs Nationalist Passions
One of the most significant events in a decade of tumult in the province of Quebec occurred on July 24, 1967. French President Charles de Gaulle caused an uproar when he exclaimed, "Vive le Québec libre" to an ecstatic crowd in front of Montreal City Hall. De Gaulle was one of many world leaders invited to Expo 67 to help celebrate Canada's 100th birthday. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson is outraged by the comment and issues an official rebuke saying, "Canadians do not need to be liberated." De Gaulle cuts short his trip and returns to France.

1970 October Crisis
Canada's political culture has not always been peaceful. For example, as you know from chapter one, there were violent events during Quebec's Quiet Revolution, committed notably by nationalist groups such as the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ).  On Oct. 5, 1970, armed FLQ kidnappers forced British Trade Commissioner James Cross into a taxi as he left his Montreal home for work. Cross was eventually released unharmed but Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte, who was kidnapped five days after Cross, did not.  He was murdered by the FLQ.  This CBC Radio report aired shortly after Cross was kidnapped.

Oka Crisis
Conflict has also broken out between Canada's Aboriginal peoples and Canada's provincial and federal governments. One of the more significant clashes is known as the Oka crisis. Here, CBC looks back at the Oka Crisis a decade after.

Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity
In spite of infrequent violent flare-ups, Canada has a remarkably welcoming and inclusive political culture. One of the reasons for this may be the official policy of multiculturalism. In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to declare multiculturalism as official state policy. The bold step charted the path to a vibrant and evolving cultural mosaic premised on mutual respect for Canadians of all backgrounds and ancestry. Today, multiculturalism is a touchstone of Canadian national identity and a point of pride for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The CBC Digital Archives recalls some of the struggles and triumphs along the way.


TVO's The Agenda

Big Ideas About Canada: Canadian Disagreements
Steve Paikin speaks with Armine Yalnizyan, Andrew Coyne, John Ibbitson, and John Duffy about how the changing nature of Canada's political, business, and cultural scenes will have an impact on Canada's future.