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Canada

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Index
  1. Canada Main Page
  2. Canada Wins the Right to Self-Government and Welcomes English-Speaking Immigrants
  3. French-Speaking Contigent Gains More Political Power
  4. Conservative Government Signs Free-Trade Pact with the United States
  5. Jean Chretien of the Liberal Party Comes to Power
  6. Marijuana and Gay Marriage Legalized
  7. Conservative Stephen Harper Becomes Prime Minister, Striving for a Blow Against Terrorism
  8. Fourth Election in Seven Years Expands Conservative Party's Hold
French-Speaking Contigent Gains More Political Power

Faced with an increasingly violent separatist movement in the predominantly French province of Quebec, Trudeau introduced the Official Languages Bill, which encouraged bilingualism in the federal government; he also gave an economic portfolio to a French-speaking minister, Jean Chrétien. Both measures increased the power of French-speaking politicians in the federal government.

In 1976, the Parti Québécois (PQ) won the provincial Quebec elections, and René Lévesque became premier. The Quebec government passed Bill 101 in 1977, which established numerous rules promoting the French-speaking culture; for example, only French was to be used for commercial signs and for most public school instruction. Many of Bill 101's provisions have since been amended, striking more of a compromise; commercial signs, for example, may now be in French and English, provided that the French lettering is twice the size of the English. Quebec held a referendum in May 1980 on whether it should seek independence from Canada; it was defeated by 60% of the voters.

Resolving a dispute that had occupied Trudeau since the beginning of his tenure, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Constitution Act (also called the Canada Act) in Ottawa on April 17, 1982, thereby cutting the last legal tie between Canada and Britain. The constitution retains Queen Elizabeth as queen of Canada and keeps Canada's membership in the Commonwealth. This constitution was accepted by every province except Quebec.

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