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Citizens’ voices at the heart of the Quiet Revolution

The many historical studies on the Quiet Revolution are primarily concerned with political figures. But what about the voices of the citizens of the day?

Stéphane Savard, a history researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal, is studying the public parliamentary committee hearings held in Québec between 1965 and 1980 in order to identify the political positions of the citizens and groups who spoke at the hearings and their influence on the political decisions of the time.

The researcher noted many cases where citizens’ voices had an impact on State decisions.

His early results focus mainly on decisions made with regard to natural resource management. The researcher noted many cases where citizens’ voices had an impact on State decisions. In 1973, for example, Hydro-Québec’s Champigny project to build a hydroelectric plant on the Jacques-Cartier River was abandoned because of strong opposition shown at the parliamentary committee hearing.

In 1977, a parliamentary committee hearing held as part of the development of Québec’s energy policy led to a moratorium on nuclear energy. One year later, plans to partially nationalize the asbestos industry did not suit the opposition, which then demanded a public parliamentary committee hearing. The Lévesque government allowed the hearing to be held, while limiting it to stakeholders in the regions concerned. The majority of the latter were in favour of the project, which then went ahead, strengthening the government’s position in drafting its asbestos policy.

Stéphane Savard’s work is shedding light on the intervention of sociopolitical actors other than political parties in the debates and conflicts of the Quiet Revolution. The researcher is analyzing government decisions from a new angle, demonstrating the contribution made by these actors. His findings have been published in scientific articles in the Bulletin d’histoire politique and the Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, and a scientific paper presented to the Canadian Historical Association.