In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Henri Bourassa and the Progressive "alliance" of 1926 JOSEPH LEVITT Henri Bourassa always knew that Anglophone support would be necessary if his nationalist program was ever to become government policy. For the greater part of his career this must have seemed an impossible condition. And yet, after the federal election of 1925, the Progressives emerged holding the ba'lance of power and Bourassa, sitting in the Federal House for the first time in years, became briefly optimistic. Perhaps in return for Quebec sympathy for a low tariff, the Progressives might agree to force his nationalist program on the government. But Bourassa overestimated the acceptability of his program to the Progressives. And when he foresaw the possibility of a Meighen regime, he was even prepared to sacrifice Progressive independence from the Liberals. Yet on this freedom of manoeuvre rested his hopes for positive Western influence on King. Thus his expectations of a Progressive "alliance" proved unrealistic and his program remained unfulfilled. During his own successful election campaign of 1925, Bourassa summed up his political demands: "Le Canada aux Canadiens , les Canadiens au Canada, le respect des droits de minorites dans toutes les provinces du pays." 1 All through the twenties he was obsessed by these issues. Even before 1914 he had been strongly committed to Canadian autonomy and cultural duality but the war intensified his passion. As he saw it, Dominion participation in the fighting had led to thousands of Canadians dying for the British imperialists in Europe. He was almost paranoic lest this happen again: "No more imperial adventures. No more undertakings to send our sons to shed their blood on all the battlefields of the world."2 He never forgave Arthur Meighen for being ready to respond to the British call Journal of Canadian Studies at Chanak in 1922. Yet it was not certain that Canada could legally stay out of British wars because the Canadian government had not yet declared, as a matter of constitutional principle, that her only link to Great Britain was allegiance to a common crown and that only Parliament could declare the Dominion to be in a state of war. Before the war Bourassa had pressed vigorously for the rights of French Canadians in English-speaking provinces to a French and Catholic education. After 1918 he continued to demand instruction in French for French Canadians outside Quebec. The war had, in fact, deepened his conviction about the necessity of Catholic education. New industries had grown in the cities and were continuing to draw young people from the countryside. This shift of people from the country to the city threatened Bourassa's conception of the ideal social order. In that order, the family was fundamental but Bourassa was convinced that city life, by undermining parental authority, was detrimental to the family. What then would happen to the transmission of Catholic values from one generation to the next? Obviously the more Catholic values came under attack, the more it was necessary to strengthen the Catholic school system. Bourassa was convinced that good Frenchspeaking Catholic schools in the West would encourage French Canadians to emigrate to the West. In turn these newcomers would do much to protect English Canada from debilitating American i n f I u en c e s: "Thanks to his religion, his language, his separate schools, his traditions, (the French Canadian) is the only moral and social obstacle to the penetration of Yankeeism."3 The very presence in the West of these most nationalistic of Canadians,4 who rejected American materialistic values, would strengthen nationalism in English Canada. Thus to Bourassa, minority rights were as essential to Canadian nationhood as they were to a Catholic social order. It is easy to understand why Bourassa 17 complained so bitterly about the educational arrangements for French Canadians in English Canada. Legally teachers could not instruct in French. In Ontario it is true that students under French-controlled school boards and in French private schools were taught in French. In Western French-Canadian rural areas, teachers did use French either in public schools of Manitoba or separate schools of Saskatchewan and Alberta which serviced those communities. In Western urban centres, however, French-Canadian children received their...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 17-24
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.