Canadian Separatism

October 7, 1964

Report Outline
Rise of Separatist Sentiment in Canada
Issues Underlying Separatist Movement
Canadian Dualism and French Nationalism
Efforts to Moderate Forces of Disunion

Rise of Separatist Sentiment in Canada

As Canada Approaches the centennial of national confederation, many of the country's public officials and press commentators are of opinion that the dominion faces one of the most serious crises of its 97-year history. The trouble is brewing out of long-standing discord between English Canadians and French Canadians, the latter constituting a minority in the country as a whole but a large majority in the province of Quebec. Current manifestations of the disharmony range from a bitter controversy over the design of a new Canadian flag to disagreements about federal-provincial relationships in the tax and economic spheres.

Emotions stirred by these differences are so strong that some inhabitants of Quebec favor separating that province from the nine other Canadian provinces and establishing it as an autonomous state. Although those urging separation make up only a small fraction of Quebec's French-speaking population, a far more numerous group favors increased autonomy for Quebec within the confederation. And it is feared that if the people of Quebec are not allowed to become “masters in their own house,” the sentiment for complete separation will spread rapidly.

Concern Over Terrorist Outbreaks in Quebec

The separatist feeling and the intransigence of Quebec's people on their differences with the federal government and with the other provinces have contributed to a stiffening of attitudes in the English-speaking provinces toward the concessions demanded by Quebec. A Canadian journalist commented last spring that “It will come as a surprise to nationalistic French Canadians, but Prime Minister [Lester B.] Pearson is beginning to lose considerable support in rural Manitoba because he is ‘soft’ on Quebec.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 06, 1995  Quebec Sovereignty
Apr. 12, 1991  The Deepening Canadian Crisis Over Quebec
May 11, 1990  Will Canada Fall Apart?
Mar. 08, 1985  Canada's Time of Change
Dec. 24, 1981  Canada's Political Conflicts
Nov. 04, 1977  Quebec Separatism
Nov. 05, 1976  Canadian-American Relations
Oct. 18, 1972  Canadian Nationalism
Dec. 09, 1970  Canada's Troubled Economy
Feb. 04, 1970  Canada's Changing Foreign Policy
Jun. 12, 1968  Canadian Unity
Oct. 07, 1964  Canadian Separatism
Jun. 06, 1962  Canadian Election
May 29, 1957  Relations with Canada
May 06, 1941  Canada's War Effort
Jul. 18, 1930  Canadian General Election, 1930
Aug. 10, 1929  Canada and the American Tariff
Sep. 21, 1926  Canadian Politics and the Imperial Conference
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Canada