Charles-Philippe Courtois
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The aftermath of the Great War and the birth of modern Quebec nationalism
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In 1914, Henri Bourassa (1868–1952), editor of the influential Montreal daily Le Devoir, was unquestionably the dominant figure in French Canadian nationalism, ever since his resignation as an MP from the Liberal Party in 1899 over Canada’s participation in the Boer War. Though he criticised both Liberals and Tories over their imperialism and failure to uphold biculturalism in Canada, his nationalism embraced the new federation expanding since 1867. The internal division of Canada during the Great War, and Canada’s extensive participation, could be seen as failures of his undertakings. Headed by abbé Lionel Groulx (1878–1967) a new movement centred on the review L’Action française (1917), originally as an extension of Le Devoir, gradually emancipated itself from his vision, developing instead a Quebec-centred nationalism. From 1918, Groulx began to hint that the days of the British Empire were numbered and that this would be French Canada’s opportunity to become independent. Other nationalists openly took a position in favour of Quebec self-determination and Groulx attempted to federate left- and right-leaning nationalists in a common position statement favourable to sovereignty, with the collective work Notre avenir politique (1922). Groulx became the leading figure of Quebec nationalism throughout the inter-war period. A new French-Canadian nationalism centred on Quebec gradually imposed itself, as illustrated by the election of a new provincial party, the Union Nationale, in 1936. This evolution laid the foundations of the modern Quebec nationalism that came to dominate all provincial parties after 1960 and establish a new Québécois identity.

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Exiting war

The British Empire and the 1918–20 moment


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