Page 4, 23rd October 1970

23rd October 1970
Page 4
Page 4, 23rd October 1970 — THE WOLF IN QUEBEC

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NO Christian can do anything but denounce the vile murder of the Canadian Minister, Mr. Laporte, by separatist extremists, and the continuing threat to the life of the kidnapped British diplomat, Mr. Cross.

But we must be careful before dismissing the "guerrilla" groups as a mere local expression of extremist trends affecting the whole world. They are undoubtedly Cuban-inspired and have their links with the Palestinians, but they also owe their origins and existence to the deep-seated resentment of so many French Canadians who still live out their lives as second class citizens.

It was in 1957 that Mr. Diefenbaker proved that federal elections could be won without the French Canadians' help, so that the latter began to fear that they were in danger of outright absorption. Two years later came the death of the French Provincial leader, Maurice Duplessis, a hardline conservative whose elitist, inwardlooking policies had kept the French community in a thoroughly backward state. Reform and expansion became the new themes for Quebec. The French community's sense of its own identity persisted, however, fed as it had been for so long on the works of Gobineau and Maurras, and it seethed with resentment at the fact that, in a Province where 80 per cent of the population were of French origin, the French-speakers commanded only 10 per cent of the whole economy.

Two-thirds of Canadian industry was controlled by Americans, and no one could aspire to anything higher than a foreman's role unless he was of English stock or prepared to acquire the English community's language and attitudes.

Intellectual Maoists

Quebec's per capita income was 14 per cent below the Canadian average and 28 per cent lower than in neighbouring Ontario. A new French-speaking middle class was rising, some of whom demanded amelioration of their lot by Federal espousal of a bi-lingual cultural, social and economic programme.

Others, like M. Rend Levesque, believed, and still believe, that reformed economic and social structures can only come from the Frenchspeaking Province itself, though still linked to the Federal institutions.

Finally, there were, and unhappily are, the young intellectual Maoists whose ambitions and aspirations go far beyond the outright separatism they espouse, and who were recently described as the uncontrolled pursuing the indefinable. These unpredictable ones, condemned by responsible French-Canadian nationalists, are responsible for the kidnappings, the murder, and a good many other crimes.

Since Duplessis went. Quebec has worked = hard to develop itself, and the Federal Govern,' = meat has helped, though it is often accused

by Quebecois of perpetual improvisation. There have, however, been encouraging signs : a growing awareness among English: speaking Canadians of the right of the French community to fulfilment. albeit within the Canadian structure, and some years ago, at the McGill University in Montreal, 83 per cent of the students cast a vote in support of : this ideal.

French Canadians, too, are rising in government and in industry. The ingredients of total = reformation are all there, and it would be a tragedy indeed if the wreckers now at work t were to turn the clock back at this stage.

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