Canadian Protest Movements in the 1960s





Canadian Protest Movements in the 1960s

Generally, the 1960s was characterized by a considerable wave of social change that swept over North America. At the height of the respective period, certain issues emerged as concerns that were supposed to be addressed in respect to the influential implications enacted by the Cold War within the same timeline. Hence, as an outcome, different social movements took place especially in the United States as well as Canada. These comprised the liberation and suffrage of women, civil rights/privileges, peace, free love, environmentalism, and a call for peace. All of the mentioned movements were united in the desire to ensure freedom for the person. They established a culture of liberation and youth that countered against the institution’s insistence on a repressive status quo. The impacts of the anti-war protests as well as movements geared towards enabling civil rights affected several parts of Canada such as Quebec hence coercing significant participation in social protests against the state.

In the 1960s and the 1970s, the state of Canada was affected profoundly by the anti-war disputes and civil rights protests that took place in the United States. In addition to this, the country found itself participating in anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movements that were part of the struggle faced by other countries located globally. Because of this, large numbers of the Canadian population expressed their willingness to support the causes that were relevant at the time. However, taking part in the respective activities only created enmity between the people and the government. In fact, one of the major issues that led to the occurrence of these protests involved the superiority complex exhibited by the Canadian ruling class as evidenced by the stratum’s colonialist mentality (Palmer 206). This notion restricted numerous Canadians, especially those that resided as workers considerably, from accessing resources.

Due to the increase in political protests among in Canada, the government focused on restraining such developments by imposing aggressive tactics against the protest. Despite this, political protests evolved into a familiar aspect of the Canadian political process. During such movements, protesters were involved in demonstrations that refused to support struggles taking part in countries such as Vietnam. Additionally, protests based on the opposition to armed conflict via nuclear weaponry were considerably present in the state of Canada. Aside from these subjects, the protests that took place in the country of Canada were based on other issues that were prevalent in the society at the time. Most of these social movements comprised community associations aimed at urban redevelopment, feminist movements, student as well as youth protests, movements aimed at opposing racial discrimination, and protests based on the aspect of environmentalism (Roberts 21).

Apart from all the movements that took part across Canada, none posed as much impact as the protests that took place in the division of Quebec. Accordingly, the protests that took place within the respective area were serious as well as focused on the issues that were taking part within the selected community. The collision between the protest movements in Quebec and other factions were often intense and violent. On one hand, students from universities and colleges as well as job-seeking candidates took part in the movement on an intensive disposition in order to pass their ideas across. On the other hand, the police as law enforcement agents constituted the membership of squadrons aimed at curbing the prevalence of these movements. The Front de Libération Du Québec was a formidable illustration of influential movements pitted against the Canadian government because of their ideals (Grant and Potter 45).

Aside from other social protestors that normally engaged in peaceful demonstrations, the respective movement was revolutionary and violent. The Front de Libération du Québec consistently took part in the application of terrorism and bombings in order to disseminate its mandates in Quebec and the rest of the Canadian terrain. In fact, at the turn of 1970, the respective movement took part in the kidnapping and murder of the Cabinet Minister for Quebec, Pierre Laporte. The actions of the group would later influence the implementation of the War Measures Statute. Apart from the engagement in such criminal activities, the Front de Libération du Québec engaged in a series of bombings aimed at the figures of the Dollard des Ormeaux and the Queen (Clement and Vosko 77). Both attacks were representations of the movement’s stance against capitalist exploitation as well as the manipulation of workers under a colonialist ideology.

The campaign against national oppression by the Front de Libération du Québec emerged as a clear motive for the respective organization. However, its actions were limited considerably to certain aspects of the inconsequential bourgeoisie. Hence, on one hand, representations of Anglophone dominance such as the Queen were attacked. On the other hand, the same movement never applied any aggressive stance against the capitalists. Additionally, the movement displayed small interest in the struggles encompassing the lives of the working class at the time. Despite this, the group would later give way to the Parti Québécois, which emerged as a provincial office towards the culmination of the 1970s (Ferguson 45). Unlike the Front de Libération du Québec, the Parti Québécois was the representation of a nationalist movement that was considerably institutionalized and respectable enough to evolve into the province’s government.


Even though the social situation in Canada has changed for the better since the 1970s, it is still possible to note some of the issues that may gain considerably from participation in protests. More specifically, the exploitation asserted by capitalists is a recurrent issue in the country. Over the years, the state of Canada has been subject to intensive levels of immigration. The reason for this is based on the cost-effective nature of labor that immigrants bring to Canadian producers. As an outcome, the nominal worker (proletariat) has become distanced from the percolations of the overall labor structure. In spite of the positive implications that have emerged due to the application of collective bargaining, such efforts are still insufficient in curbing the struggle that workers presently endure in respect to the actions of Canada’s capitalist producers.

Therefore, with this in mind, a successful protest can emerge for the sole objective of raising awareness. In this respective setting, the aim would be to inform the Canadian government about the plight of the proletariat. In addition to this, the protest will be responsible for informing the public of the injustices undertaken by a system wrought in the concept of capitalism. In this respect, the masses may understand the objective of the protest and engage in unison with the achievements it plans to gain. On the other hand, it is important to note that alliances with the bourgeoisie may not necessarily contribute to the overall aim of restricting the exploitative nature of capitalism. As evidenced in the 1960s and 1970s, the move to work with the Quebec bourgeoisie by the Front de Libération du Québec only failed in ensuring success for both Anglophone and Francophone civilians.


Works Cited

Clement, Wallace, and Leah F. Vosko. Changing Canada: Political Economy as Transformation. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013. Print.

Ferguson, Will. Canadian History for Dummies. Mississauga: J. Wiley & Sons Canada, 2005. Print.

Grant, George P., and Andrew Potter. Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005. Print.

Palmer, Brian D. “‘Indians of All Tribes’: The Birth of Red Power”. Debating Dissent: Canada and the Sixties. Ed. Gregory S. Kealey, Lara Campbell, and Dominique Clément. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012. 193-210. Print.

Roberts, Lance W. Recent Social Trends in Canada, 1960-2000. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015. Print.



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