Originally created from a merger of 2 Quebec independence groups (the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association and the Ralliement national) in 1968, another party by the name of Rassemblement pour l'Indépendance Nationale dissolved itself that same year. All of its party members were welcomed to join the new Parti Quebecois. The party's first time in power was after the 1976 provincial elections, and they stood (and still do) for Quebec's sovereignty and the protection of French culture. They came into office after the previous liberal party had been riddled by scandals, and the Parti Quebecois offered the voters a self proclaimed “good government”. They proved this to voters through their actions from creating bill 101 which is their own language charter to eventually staging the first referendum.
The Quebec exodus was when, historically, it is possible to see a huge migration of anglophones out of the province of Quebec and into the rest of Canada. From the 30 year period of 1976 2006 we see around 495,446 people leave the province of quebec. Approximately 151,308 people (or about 30%) left in the 5 year period of 1976-1981. This was the result of social uncertainty and general anglophone unrest at the future political landscape of quebec. It can be noted that the first year in the statistic (1976) is the same year that the Parti Quebecois first attained won the election for the provincial government. In the coming years the party created many lasting changes to Quebec’s laws, the big one of which of course was bill 10, and held the first referendum. All these major events in Quebec's past are deeply francophone beneficial and were not made to appeal to Quebec's anglophone population.
Bill 101 (also the charter of the French language) is a culmination of previous bills (Bill 63 and 22) created to increase the use of French throughout the province. This is done through what is essentially the restriction of English in Quebec, and the promotion of French. Probably the most significant part of the bill is that it made French the official language and the everyday language in business and the workforce. It also made it so children must be sent to French taught school, even if their parents were from other parts of Canada. This was essential to French national pride in Quebec because now French is the most used language, and it secures that status for future generations.
The first referendum was the first of 2 attempts made by the Parti Quebecois provincial government to secede from the rest of Canada and grant Quebec sovereignty. The referendum asked Quebec voters if a new agreement with the rest of Canada was necessary, with the question on the voting ballot promising sovereignty but retaining an economic connection with Canada. Ultimately, the referendum was rejected by Quebec voters by a majority vote of approximately 60% to 40%. In official statement the leader of the Parti Quebecois, René Lévesque, declared “Until next time” alluding to the eventual second referendum, although it came to be long after his death.
The Meech lake accord was a package of amendments to the Constitution of Canada proposed by the Conservative party of Canada, under the leadership of Brian Mulroney. The accord came about after the constitution of Canada was created in 1982, despite protests and ultimately the absence of approval from the provincial government of Quebec. The Meech lake amendments were proposed with the ambition to acquire Quebec’s approval of the constitution act of 1982. There were a few main points that the accord would address in its changes: Firstly, Quebec would be recognized as a distinct society within Canada. Also, provinces could choose to opt out of government programs that affected their social programs, provided that they created arrangements sufficient to replace the program. Eventually the Meech Lake Accord disintegrated after 3 years of negotiations, mostly due to the continuous changing of provincial support for many provinces. As consent from all provinces was required, the bill fell to a lack of agreement between provinces.
After the failing of the Meech lake accord, across the country many debates were held and reports established concerning the future of confederation in Canada (inside and outside of Quebec). These became negotiations between major political bodies (from the federal government to the national Metis council) resulting in the creation of the Charlottetown accord. Like its predecessor, the Charlottetown accord addressed issues like recognizing Quebec as a distinct society and to give provinces more freedom to choose/ refuse federal programs. However, unlike the Meech lake accord, the Charlottetown accord dealt with many more issues. A few of the “big ticket” items included changing the senate structure to be “Equal, elected, and efficient” and the recognition of aboriginal self governance (after a 3 year hiatus for debates before it was recognized in court) The accord went to a public vote which was defeated by 54% of voters nationally, and defeated in most cases at the provincial level also.
Officially founded in 1991, the Bloc Quebecois is a federal Political party that represents Quebec’s desire to be a sovereign and independent from Canada. It was initially created from MP’s who left other parties after the failure of the Meech lake accord, most notably of which was their initial leader Lucien Bouchard, who was a former conservative cabinet minister. During the first few years as a party, the Bloc took an active role in voicing their opinions on Quebec's affairs, adamantly supporting to turn down the Charlottetown accord which eventually was by a majority of 57% of Quebec voters. In 1993 though they achieved something thought near impossible to a party only in Quebec: with 54 members of parliament after the 1993 federal election they achieved the status of official opposition of the liberal party of Canada. In the next few years they encouraged heavily for the second referendum, which barely lost in the official vote.
The second of 2 referendums held in Quebec was again under a provincial Parti Quebecois government, but this time under the leadership of Jacques Parizeau. The referendum was declared by Jacques Parizeau after the Bloc Quebecois attained official opposition in the federal government, alluding to the social uncertainty that had come after years of negotiations and accords with Quebec. The ballot asked voters that “after negotiations with Canada for new economic and political partnerships, should Quebec become sovereign?” After vast uncertainty and changing predictions to the results, the referendum was rejected by a slim margin of 50.58% to 49.42%. There was much controversy after the voting, as there were allegations of biased ballot counting due to the high amounts of rejected ballots, the vast majority of which were against Quebec sovereignty.
A controversial bill proposed by Quebec's provincial government, the Parti Quebecois under the leadership of Pauline Marois. The bill is an attempt by the PQ government to bolster Bill 101 by eliminating supposed “loopholes” in its current form. These changes mainly includes limiting access to bridging English schools by Quebec military personnel, who are currently can apply their children since they could be called across the country at any time. Among other points of contention the bill would allow the provincial government to revoke the bilingual status of a community with less than a 50% Anglophone population; a decision that is currently at the discretion of the municipality.