Canada in the 1970s: A *Just* Society?

Qualities of a
JUST society
Qualities of an
UNJUST society
 What qualities made
Trudeau such a popular
 What were his goals for
 “By building a truly just society, this beautiful, rich and
energetic country of ours can become a model in
which every citizen will enjoy his fundamental rights,
in which two great linguistic communities and people
of many cultures will live in harmony, and in which
every individual will find fulfillment.”
- Trudeau, after winning leadership of the Liberal Party in 1968
“And so I based my campaign on the central theme of
the Just Society. Achieving such a society would
require promoting equality of opportunity and giving
the most help to those who were the most
disadvantaged. Social security and equalization
payments, as well as a ministry of regional economic
expansion, would give practical effect to these abstract
principles. As well, I announced what we would do to
redress the federal Canadian state’s traditional
injustice towards French, the mother tongue of 27% of
the Canadian population.”
Pierre Trudeau, Memoirs (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993), pp. 87-88.
 Throughout the 1970s, the federal government took
many actions to implement and ensure a just society
for Canada
 Many Canadians began to speak out against traditional
values, attitudes, and ways of doing things
 These groups of Canadians were greatly impacted by
the changes being made:
Women, French-Canadians, Supporters of Same-Sex
Attraction,Economic groups, Aboriginals
 The Quiet Revolution sparked new pride in French
Canadians – some believed that the only way to protect
their language and culture was the creation of an
independent Quebec
 The FLQ was an extremist separatist group and used
terrorism to promote their ideas
 In October 1970, they had kidnapped two political
officials, demanding freedom for FLQ members who
had been previously caught and jailed
 Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act
 Parti Quebecois formed in 1968 – goal = independence for
Won provincial election in 1976 under Levesque
He proposed a less extreme version of separation = sovereignty
association. This meant that Quebec could govern itself but
keep its economic ties
Referendum 1980 on the issue of sovereignty association –
majority voted “non”
Another referendum in 1995, with the same end result, but much
closer results
 1969 – Official Languages Act –
made it law that both English and
French be official languages of
Canada, and be used in all federal
government services
 1974, French declared the only
official language in Quebec
 Many protested this – English
speakers in Quebec resented that
they had to have their children
tested to be allowed into English
schools; French speakers did not
feel that this declaration was
 1977, Bill 101 passed – declared that
only French was to be used in
workplaces and schools; with few
exceptions, English was to be
banned in Quebec
 For many Canadians, a social safety net was vital in
making Trudeau’s just society a reality
 In 1962, Tommy Douglas pioneered universal health
 By 1972, it was reality for all Canadians – all provinces
agreed to join
 Economic downturn in the 1960s and 1970s – jobs were
harder to get, and workers worried about inflation
 Workers demanded raises, which often led to strikes –
the success of some workers obtaining their demands
prompted other workers to demand similar
 Stagflation was a result in the
1970s = consumer demand
and job growth stagnate,
while inflation pushes prices
 Unions struggled to protect
members’ jobs
 Rising oil prices contributed to stagflation
 In 1973, price increased from $4 to $16 a barrel, resulting in
prices of goods and services to go up, and some factories in
Canada to close
 Alberta and Saskatchewan experienced prosperity because of
the increased prices
 In 1975, Trudeau introduced wage and price controls – this
meant that the government would control wages of workers
as well as the prices companies could charge for certain
 This was a first during peacetime
 Many people protested that prices were not as controlled as
 1966 – Committee for Equality
of Women in Canada formed
– the govt. created the Royal
Commission on the Status of
Women, which was designed
to ensure equal opportunities
for women
 It found many examples of
discrimination against women
(ex. Airlines made
stewardesses sign agreements
that allowed the company to
fire them at age 30)
 Although many women were working outside the
home by the 1960s, they were paid less and seldom
 Many of the recommendations in the Report became
law, such as equal pay for work of equal value
 Trudeau appointed the first minister responsible for
the status of women – creation of the Canadian
Advisory Council on the Status of Women to deal with
these issues
 As more women joined the
workforce, they wanted to control
the size, and timing, of their
 Women also gained maternity
leave in the 1970s along with the
right to return to work after giving
 Trudeau also changed the
Criminal Code so that divorce was
easier to obtain by women and
abortion was no longer illegal
 In the 1970s, same sex
attraction was particularly
controversial. Many different
views existed: some believed
it was a choice, others
believed it was a sin, and
some believed it to be a
genetic disorder
 Trudeau’s government
responded to this
controversial topic.
SSA Rights - 1970s
First issue of The Other
Woman, a lesbian feminist
newspaper, published
John Damien fired by Ontario
Racing Commission because of
his sexual orientation;
launched a lengthy court case
NDP became the first political
party to support the gay
Sexual orientation included in
the Quebec Charter of Human
Ontario Secondary School
Teachers’ Federation included
sexual orientation in its antidiscrimination policy
How do these events
reflect, or not reflect, the
idea of a just society?
In 1967, Trudeau, as
Minister of Justice, made
reforms in laws that
made SSA illegal and
stated: “The state has no
place in the bedrooms of
the nation.”
 Indian Act – was designed to integrate Indians into
predominate Canadian culture and economy
 In 1969, Trudeau proposed to abolish it – they could
retain their culture but give up special status
 Aboriginal groups were outraged – claimed that as the
first inhabitants of Canada, they were entitled to
special rights such as:
 Self-government
 Right to land where treaties had not been signed
 Right to the support promised to them in treaties from
previous generations
The government dropped the proposal
Timeline of events
Aboriginal people the last group of Canadians granted the right to vote
Government closes residential schools
The White Paper – issued without consultation of Aboriginal peoples –
intended to enable First Nations to achieve integration and equality with other
Canadians; outrage led government to withdraw proposal
Aboriginal women who married non-Aboriginal partners were forced to give up
their Indian status, while Aboriginal men marrying non-Aboriginal women
could keep theirs
Calder Case –Nisga’s First Nation of northern BC tried to negotiate a treaty
recognizing their claim to the land they lived on; took to Supreme Court
National Indian Brotherhood urges government to allow Aboriginal people to
control their children’s education to learn about culture & values – a political
voice for aboriginals
Quebec government built a hydroelectric project at James Bay without
consulting Inuit or Cree peoples living there; eventually the Que. govt. was
forced to negotiate with the Inuit and Cree
Walk in my moccasins
“Do you know what it is like to feel you are of no value to
society and those around you? To know that people came
to help you but not to work with you for your knew that
they knew you had nothing to offer …? Do you know what
it is like to have a race belittled and to come to learn that
you are only a burden to the country? Maybe we did not
have the skills to make a meaningful contributions, but no
one would wait for us to catch up. We were shoved aside
because we were dumb and could never learn. What is it
like to be without pride in your race, pride in you family,
pride and confidence in yourself? What is it like? You don’t
know for you never tasted its bitterness.”
–Chief Dan George
Can you remember the times
That you have held your head high and told all your friends of your
Indian claim
Proud good lady and proud good man
Some great great grandfather from Indian blood came and you feel
in your heart for these ones
Oh it's written in books and in song that we've been mistreated and
Well over and over I hear those same words from you good lady and
you good man
Well listen to me if you care where we stand and you feel you're a part
of these ones
When a war between nations is lost the loser we know pays the cost
but even when Germany fell to your hands consider dear lady,
consider dear man you left them their pride and you left them
their land and what have you done to these ones
Has a change come about my dear man or are you still taking our
A treaty forever your senators sign
They do dear lady, they do dear man and the treaties are broken
again and again and what will you do for these ones
Oh it's all in the past you can say but it's still going on here today
The governments now want the Navaho land that of the Inuit and
the Cheyenne
It's here and it's now you can help us dear man Now that the buffalo's
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