thumbnail of Canada: True North; No. 103; A Song for Quebec
Hide -
<v Speaker>Major funding for Canada. True, North is provided by the Corporation for <v Speaker>Public Broadcasting, this station and other public television stations. <v Speaker>And the William H. Donner Foundation. <v Speaker>New York. New York. <v Robert McNeil>I'm Robert McNeil and this is Montreal, Quebec, Canada. <v Robert McNeil>The city where I was born. <v Robert McNeil>People who live here would just say Montreal, Quebec, though Quebec <v Robert McNeil>were a separate nation and not a province of Canada. <v Robert McNeil>Well, it came very close to that about 10 years ago. <v narrator>And that is our story tonight. <v narrator>Montreal is the largest French speaking city in the world after Paris. <v narrator>But when I was a child, we English Canadians could almost ignore that, forgetting
<v narrator>that French culture and language were guaranteed equal rights when Canada became <v narrator>a nation, treating the French very much as second class citizens. <v narrator>In the 1960s, one European writer called them the white negroes of North America. <v narrator>It wasn't all due to the arrogance of English Canada, French politicians and clergy <v narrator>connived in their economic subjugation. <v narrator>But after World War 2, a new generation rebelled and Quebec nationalism <v narrator>became a powerful force. Suddenly there was a party. <v narrator>The Parti Quebecois, that wanted to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada. <v narrator>Their revolution failed. A majority of the people of Quebec chose to stay inside <v narrator>Canada, but it also succeeded. <v narrator>It gave an enormous boost to French confidence and pride. <v narrator>And it forced English Canada to recognize that Canadianism means <v narrator>duality two languages, two cultures, and that Canada is <v narrator>richer, if less tidy because of it. <v narrator>Tonight's program tells the story through the lives of two people who played important
<v narrator>roles in the struggle. A poet and a popular singer both passionately <v narrator>engaged in the separatist movement. <v narrator>Gerald Godin is one of Quebec's most popular figures, a statesman who's spent <v narrator>his life fighting for a separate French nation, but he doesn't <v narrator>use the dull prose of the politician. <v narrator>He speaks to his people in poetry. <v Gerald Godin>Il n'est pas donné souvant a un pays de refaire sa vie. <v Gerald Godin>Il vous regardera comme s'il n'avait rien a vous dire. <v Gerald Godin>Mais il n'attende adroit un signe de vous, qu'un signe de vous, <v Gerald Godin>pour vous sauter au cou. [French song] <v narrator>Pauline Julien is another powerful voice from Quebec. <v narrator>Her song celebrate her people's French Identity and sound a warning to protect
<v narrator>it before it's too late. <v narrator>There's so much. <v Pauline Julien>Tell me why it's too late, too late, <v Pauline Julien>much too late. <v Pauline Julien>Mommy, Mommy, I love you dearly, please <v Pauline Julien>sing the song you sang when I was a baby. <v Pauline Julien>Doo doo doo doo <v Pauline Julien>doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. <v Pauline Julien>Mommy, mommy, I remember the song, oh mommy, mommy <v Pauline Julien>Some things seem to be wrong. Oh mommy <v Pauline Julien>tell me why its too late, <v Pauline Julien>too late, much too late.
<v Speaker>[speaking in French]. <v narrator>Gerald and Pauline lived together. <v narrator>Perhaps the best known couple in this French speaking province. <v Speaker>Oh oui. <v Speaker>[speakng French]. <v Speaker>Gerald is one of Quebec's most famous writers. <v Speaker>His poems are rooted in the daily language of his people. <v Speaker>Pauline, songs are a cry from Quebec's heart. <v Speaker>[speaks french: How'd he ever catch her?] <v Gerald Godin>[speaks french: I gave her a lift to Montreal. <v Gerald Godin>Madame Julien had been singing in Trois-Rivières. <v Gerald Godin>She had a commitment in Montreal. <v Gerald Godin>She said to me, "I have to get to Montreal tomorrow, I am without a car. <v Gerald Godin>I said I'd drop her off, but.... <v Gerald Godin>She dropped me off at her place. <v Gerald Godin>I looked through her bookshelves. You had none of my books Madame Julien!] <v Speaker>They met in 1962 and fell in love.
<v Speaker>Gerald will never forget the first time he set eyes on Pauline. <v Speaker>He was a young, small town poet and she was a star. <v Gerald Godin>What I saw on TV, she was singing ?inaudible? <v Gerald Godin>First time I saw her in Trois-Rivières. <v Gerald Godin>And one day I was chosen to be the first of these young boys <v Gerald Godin>to be launched in Montreal. <v Gerald Godin>And I came and I was in a cocktail. <v Gerald Godin>And then I saw the lady. <v narrator>The lady and the poet have been together ever since. <v narrator>They're celebrating their 25th anniversary with a group of friends at an old farmhouse <v narrator>packed with memories. <v Speaker>[Speaks French: To another 25 years of faithfulness! Or unfaithfulness...].
<v Speaker>[Speaks French: To our 50 years together Pauline] <v Gerald Godin>She was new all the time- every day of our life she was a new person. <v Gerald Godin>Either mad or glad or uh, something like but changing all the time, <v Gerald Godin>everyday. <v narrator>Like all couples, they share personal memories of their years together, <v narrator>but their memorabilia are the home movies of a nation. <v narrator>For they were at the forefront of a turbulent struggle to make Quebec an independent <v narrator>country. <v narrator>Gerald was a young reporter from the town of Three Rivers. <v narrator>In 1962, he came to the big city, Montreal. <v narrator>He made his reputation as a critic, arguing that Quebec needed its own distinct
<v narrator>culture, separate from France and America. <v Gerald Godin>[Speaks French: We get a kick out of hearing our own swearwords in films. <v Gerald Godin>A nation recognizes itself at the movies. <v Gerald Godin>We didn't... not watching The Wild Bunch and westerns. <v Gerald Godin>Now we can see ourselves... that's great!]. <v Speaker>[Speaks French: There's been an evolution in cinema]. <v narrator>When Gerald met Pauline. <v narrator>She was a good example of what he was criticizing. <v narrator>She had to go to France for her training as an entertainer because Quebec offered few <v narrator>opportunities. <v Pauline Julien>In the 50s there were no theater schools in Quebec, so my mother <v Pauline Julien>encouraged me and I went to Paris. <v Pauline Julien>I learned theater and mime and dance and then I began to sing. <v Speaker>[singing in French] <v narrator>
<v narrator>Quebec's Struggle for identity has a long history. <v narrator>Like other French Quebeckers, Gerald and Pauline trace their roots back to early French <v narrator>settlers who had landed on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in the 15 Hundreds. <v narrator>But 200 years ago, the French colony was conquered by England. <v narrator>When General James Wolfe scaled the walls of Quebec City. <v narrator>Generations of Quebeckers remember it as a conquest, a humiliating <v narrator>defeat that almost destroyed the French Quebec nation. <v Gerald Godin>I think that Quebec survived because of Ben Franklin, who came to <v Gerald Godin>Montreal in 1776. <v Gerald Godin>And proposed in French to Quebeckers to join with <v Gerald Godin>the United States of America to become a 13th colony. <v Gerald Godin>And then in the House of Lords in London, they had speeches saying <v Gerald Godin>the winds of freedom are blowing from the south to the north.
<v Gerald Godin>So we have to give them some rights and some responsibilities. <v Gerald Godin>And this is how we got our first parliament. <v narrator>They may have gotten parliament, but after the conquest, Quebec was run like the rest <v narrator>of Canada, in English. <v narrator>The English minority in Montreal controlled most of Quebec as wealth. <v narrator>If you wanted to work, you had to speak their language. <v narrator>Most French Quebeckers felt excluded from the big city world of English commerce. <v narrator>They remained in the countryside, finding solace in the Roman Catholic Church. <v narrator>As Mark Twain once observed, Quebec was a place where you couldn't throw a stone without <v narrator>breaking a church window. <v narrator>The priest stood guard. <v narrator>They were determined to keep Quebecers French and faithful and far removed <v narrator>from the modern world. <v narrator>Like many youngsters, Gerald was expected to become a priest or a doctor, <v narrator>but he rebelled and became a journalist and eventually a successful poet.
<v narrator>A complete collection of Gerald's poetry has just been published, but his poems <v narrator>weren't always respectable. <v narrator>They're written in joual, a rough slang used by working people in Quebec. <v narrator>When Gerald started writing, joual was a second class language scorned by <v narrator>just about everyone else. <v Gerald Godin>One day I was sitting in the park next to 2 elder workmen <v Gerald Godin>in Trois-Rivières. <v Gerald Godin>On the bench next to me and I was reading and then they told me. <v Gerald Godin>On parle mal eh? which meant we're not speaking French correctly, <v Gerald Godin>we make mistakes. <v Gerald Godin>And then I felt deeply I saw a sense of injustice <v Gerald Godin>that these guys were not talking because they felt they were making mistakes, <v Gerald Godin>which was which is I think, the worst work being in life.
<v Gerald Godin>And then I felt I had a mission to do, which was that the mission of the job to do, which <v Gerald Godin>was to. <v Gerald Godin>Major redemption of the language. <v Gerald Godin>Used their words and make it part of the poetry, their re- <v Gerald Godin>language of our people is what they feel in their... in their plexus <v Gerald Godin>and their skin. That was the start of my campaign <v Gerald Godin>for the spoken language of this country. <v Gerald Godin>And I've been using these words and collecting them as precious stones <v Gerald Godin>ever since. <v Gerald Godin>The grubby guys, the shorties, the [french], those that got <v Gerald Godin>French fries with their Coke. <v Gerald Godin>The [french] that spit those who are timid and broke <v Gerald Godin>the guys who deliver beer on bicycle's from the corner grocers. <v Gerald Godin>All those day to day lives stuck with payments to meet, mortgage to perpetuity. <v Gerald Godin>They don't have a knife between their teeth, just a bus ticket.
<v Gerald Godin>My brothers. My brothers. <v narrator>Both Pauline and Gerald grew up in the 1940s under Premier Maurice Duplessis. <v narrator>He was a powerful figure who wrapped himself in the banner of French nationalism <v narrator>and Catholicism to get the support of Quebec's rural voters. <v narrator>In the late 1940s, underpaid French workers rose up against their English <v narrator>employers demanding the right to strike. <v narrator>When Duplessis supported their bosses, they felt betrayed. <v narrator>Workers and police clashed again and again as once passive, Quebeckers felt <v narrator>a mounting sense of injustice. <v narrator>Quebec was poised for change, and it came suddenly when Duplessis died <v narrator>in 1959. <v narrator>The era remembered as Quebec's dark ages was over. <v Gerald Godin>I was there when Duplessis died as a journalist, I remember very well. <v Gerald Godin>And uh, there were there in Trois-Rivières that very day was hotter
<v Gerald Godin>than anytime before and in Trois-Rivières. <v Gerald Godin>So the common saying was that the doors of hell had <v Gerald Godin>opened for Duplessis and that <v Gerald Godin>the hot air coming from the air was so strong that everybody was in uh, was <v Gerald Godin>sweating. <v narrator>1960, a new government swept into power, led by Liberal leader Jean <v narrator>Lesage. <v narrator>A quiet revolution began that would catapult Quebec into the 20th century. <v narrator>The slogan of Lesage's government was Masters in our own house. <v narrator>New programs were announced in science, business, arts and education. <v narrator>Breaking the Bonds of the Catholic Church and English Business. <v narrator>One project symbolized the new self-sufficiency. <v narrator>The huge English owned electricity industry was nationalized and christened Hydro-Quebec.
<v narrator>Behind the scheme was a young cabinet minister named René Levesque. <v narrator>He voiced the growing impatience of many Quebeckers. <v René Levesque>As far as future development is concerned. <v René Levesque>I think it would be silly to go on being always spectators, even in those other <v René Levesque>fields. Looking at other guys doing the job and Quebeckers more or less <v René Levesque>being people who look at the trains go by. <v Gerald Godin>[Speaks French: There was an explosion of freedom in every sense. <v Gerald Godin>sexual and intellectual freedom, and a belief that education <v Gerald Godin>should be available to all. <v Gerald Godin>Before, only wealthy families could afford the $700 for a classical college. <v Gerald Godin>The crucial reform was free education. <v Gerald Godin>"No more Mozarts nipped in the bud" .] <v Pauline Julien>[sings in French]
<v narrator>Pauline was swept up in the time spraying exciting new Quebec songs to her own people. <v narrator>A different crowd gathered in 1964 to welcome Queen Elizabeth, the Queen <v narrator>of England and of Canada. <v narrator>Pauline was invited to perform for the Queen, but she refused. <v narrator>Like many French Quebeckers, she saw Elizabeth as a symbol of English rule. <v narrator>Young French nationalists had started to organize, demanding control of <v narrator>their own state. Now they took to the streets with a bold new cry. <v narrator>Quebec libre an independent Quebec. <v narrator>The next morning, police attacked the demonstrators. <v narrator>It was known as the Saturday of the Truncheons. <v narrator>A wave of protests followed. <v narrator>Thousands marched in giant demonstrations that often ended the same way. <v Gerald Godin>I took part in many such events and always
<v Gerald Godin>I was always very fearful of anything happening. <v Gerald Godin>And if my skull had been broken. <v Gerald Godin>Just in a few seconds when you get the truncheon blow in the head. <v Gerald Godin>You understand very fast what's going on and you become more, more radical. <v Pauline Julien>I don't need a truncheon on my head to understand. <v narrator>Gerald's cultural nationalism turned political. <v narrator>He joined other young artists who were at the forefront of the independence movement. <v narrator>He and Pauline took part in shows called Songs and Poetry of Resistance. <v narrator>They were unlike anything Quebec had ever seen.
<v narrator>Nationalist fervor erupted into song. <v narrator>It was led by fiery singer poets, troubadours whose popular music <v narrator>had a political impact. <v Pauline Julien>[Sings in French] <v Pauline Julien> <v narrator> Pauline was the soul of the movement,
<v narrator>flaming passionariat the spreading a proud new message to an emerging nation. <v narrator>1963, three terrorists blew up a monument to general Wolfe, <v narrator>the hero of the English conquest. <v narrator>They call themselves the F.L.Q, the Quebec Liberation Front. <v narrator>Over the next seven years, dozens of bombs went off at the national revenue <v narrator>building. The Queen Victoria Monument. <v narrator>Even the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. <v narrator>Some bombs were defuzed in time. <v narrator>Others were not. <v narrator>The attacks terrified English Quebec, but they struck a chord among frustrated <v narrator>young nationalists like Gerald, who felt the English were deaf to their cries. <v Gerald Godin>Only bombs, in fact, were the the ideal
<v Gerald Godin>communication process to convince the English that we were <v Gerald Godin>after something important. <v Gerald Godin>And since that, they had simply showed us some either contempt or what <v Gerald Godin>do you want? Or we love you or we will put some French word <v Gerald Godin>over the toilet doors in airports and things like that. <v Gerald Godin>It was not enough. <v narrator>Nineteen sixty seven. <v narrator>The visit of French President Charles de Gaulle. <v narrator>France was the mother country, de Gaulle a legend. <v narrator>When he arrived, he was mobbed by separatists looking for some sign of his support. <v narrator>Their banners proclaim Quebec Libre, an independent Quebec. <v narrator>And to their astonishment, the French president echoed their cry. <v Charles de Gaulle>Vive Montreal. <v Charles de Gaulle>Vive le Quebec. <v Charles de Gaulle>Vive le Quebec Libre.
<v Pauline Julien>I think is one of the most impressioning <v Pauline Julien>[Godin: important] important and um <v Pauline Julien>vigorous moment in the life of the of Quebec, <v Pauline Julien>because it's not because we think that France are <v Pauline Julien>going to help us, but it the way we are. <v Pauline Julien>It's a very de Gaulle was very important in all the politics <v Pauline Julien>in our country. And it's the fact that he recognized <v Pauline Julien>our, the cause. <v Gerald Godin>And then came the man René Levesque. <v Gerald Godin>And he was really a sort of a dynamo. <v Gerald Godin>And he had ideas on everything and he wanted to redo Quebec <v Gerald Godin>from head to toe from A to Z. From wall to wall. <v Gerald Godin>And it was very similar thing for us, younger generation, younger Quebeckers <v Gerald Godin>to watch this guy going. <v Gerald Godin>And when he uh finish a job of a great thing, hydro- Quebec.
<v Gerald Godin>His speeches were so stimulating that we we thought we <v Gerald Godin>had a place in that political process. <v narrator> That process was now red hot, largely because of Levesque. <v narrator>The popular young minister had stormed <v narrator>out of the Quebec government to spearhead a growing separatist movement, attracting <v narrator>the best and the brightest of a generation. <v narrator>In 1968, they held an historic convention and voted to found <v narrator>a new political party called the Partie Quebecois, the PQ. <v narrator>It had one goal an independent Quebec nation that would break away from Canada. <v narrator>Levesque was their leader and their inspiration. <v narrator>Though the English saw him only as a menace. <v interviewer>Sorry to keep at this Rene but-. <v René Levesque>You're sure as hell harping on it. <v interviewer>Well, let's put it this way. Would you fight if you had to? <v René Levesque>Would you what? <v interviewer>Fight. <v René Levesque>You mean fight with arms? [interviewer: Yes.] Would the rest of Canada fight to keep
<v René Levesque>Quebec in [interviewer: I don't know.] Against its own will. <v René Levesque>I know it won't. Because I think the rest of Canada. <v René Levesque>First of all, has no illusions on that score and second is civilized. <v René Levesque>Next question. <v Pauline Julien>Like René Levesque said, we are not to be a frontier. <v Pauline Julien>We are not to be wars and everything like that, it will just be our place. <v Pauline Julien>Be free. <v narrator>A living symbol of separatism. Pauline was soon on national television arguing <v narrator>Quebec's cause to a bewildered Canadian public. <v Pauline Julien>We are not at home at all, and leave it we go in the bank. <v Pauline Julien>At leave we look for a job in Quebec, we have to know English, we have to speak English. <v Pauline Julien>And a lot of people refuse to speak French. <v Pauline Julien>Do you imagine such a thing in Toronto? <v Pauline Julien>So that's why- [interviewer: it's changing Pauline, it's changing] No! <v Pauline Julien>Everywhere, you know, in the every, why do you. <v Pauline Julien>So you have a spirit colonialiste or what? <v interviewer>No, we don't want to lose you. <v Pauline Julien>I don't want to lose you either. <v Pauline Julien>[interviewer: All right. Why not?] But we have to be changed. Like, really be free.
<v Pauline Julien>Both you and me. And every people in, in the world just want that. <v narrator>But many people did not share Pauline's vision, as René Levesque discovered <v narrator>when he took his cause to the rest of Canada. <v René Levesque>We firmly believe that we can do it in a sovereign. <v René Levesque>As we say it. Which means a politically independent Quebec. <v René Levesque>Another three minutes, two minutes. <v René Levesque>And we also believe that we should and we can do it together. <v René Levesque>Not with him, but together. <v Speaker>French Canadian people can't get along within Canada exactly <v Speaker>the same as german Canadians, Italian Canadians or Ukrainian Canadians <v Speaker>without crying all the time, without asking for more, without having another government <v Speaker>for themselves. Right. <v René Levesque>Can I answer you? Take a German Canadian or an I-,
<v René Levesque>as you say, an Italian Canadian. <v René Levesque>When they come here, they come as immigrants. <v René Levesque>What you're calling for is that French Canadians also <v René Levesque>accept the Canadian melting pot situation. <v René Levesque>But we are not going to be any kind. <v René Levesque>I'm sorry. Of group of new Canadians melting into <v René Levesque>a melting pot. <v Speaker>That's fine. I accept that sir, why do you have to have a government by yourselves? <v Speaker>Why do you have a second government? <v René Levesque>Well, that's what I was taught. <v René Levesque>As best I could, I gave you a summons. <v Speaker>No answer. I thank you for trying but you failed. <v Gerald Godin>In their views. You should disappear as a different group, a linguistic group, <v Gerald Godin>and we should all speak English. <v Gerald Godin>The point is that we were the first one to be established in <v Gerald Godin>the history of Canada. We are the oldest settlement in North America, in Quebec here, <v Gerald Godin>1534.
<v narrator>In the 1970 Quebec election, Levesque PQ stunned Canadians. <v narrator>One in four Quebeckers voted for the new party dedicated to leaving Canada. <v narrator>Liberal Party leader Robert Bourassa defeated Levesque to become the new premier <v narrator>and the PQ own only a handful of seats in the parliament. <v narrator>But it was hard to tell at PQ headquarters. <v Robert Bourassa>Dear friends, don't forget that this is a defeat <v Robert Bourassa>which feels like a victory. <v narrator>Quebec's Young had voted massively for the PQ and party leaders were ecstatic. <v narrator>Every day a federalist dies, and a separatist is born. <v narrator>Tomorrow belongs to us, was the PKU slogan. <v narrator>But some people couldn't wait. <v narrator>On October 5th, 1970, Quebec heard a chilling newscast.
<v radio announcer>The senior British trade commissioner in Montreal, James Richard Cross, is reported to <v radio announcer>have been kidnaped a short while ago from his Redpath Crescent home by as many as four <v radio announcer>armed men believed to be F.L.Q terrorists. <v radio announcer>Mr. Cross was forced at gunpoint to enter the waiting taxi and it sped away from the <v radio announcer>scene. An intensive police search is underway for the kidnap victim and his abductors. <v narrator>The kidnaping of Britain's trade commissioner set off an electrifying chain of events. <v narrator>It was known as the October crisis. <v narrator>Within days FLQ terrorists struck again, snatching a politician <v narrator>from his own front lawn. <v narrator>Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre La Porte. <v narrator>Police dragnets paralyzed the province, but found nothing. <v narrator>Under pressure, the government agreed to broadcast the FLQ manifesto. <v narrator>That night Quebeckers tuned into an unusual newscast. <v News anchor>May all those throughout Quebec who have been contemptuously referred to as the lousy
<v News anchor>French and the alcoholics join ranks and fight against the enemies of justice and liberty <v News anchor>and stop the professional thieves and gangsters, the bankers, businessmen, <v News anchor>judges and corrupt politicians. <v News anchor>We are the workers of Quebec and we will fight to the bitter end. <v narrator>Days later, thousands of people gathered in Montreal in sympathy with the <v narrator>FLQ message. They didn't know that Quebec was about to become an armed <v narrator>camp. <v narrator>Early that morning, the Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, invoked <v narrator>an emergency law called the War Measures Act, claiming that Quebec faced <v narrator>an apprehended insurrection. <v narrator>Some people felt the insurrection existed only in Trudeau's mind. <v Gerald Godin>You had about ten or twelve youngsters, in fact, <v Gerald Godin>kidnaping two people working without any money. <v Gerald Godin>They had to borrow money from their own kidnaped victim pierre la porte
<v Gerald Godin>to pay for the, the St. Hubert roasted chicken <v Gerald Godin>that they ordered. <v Gerald Godin>So this was not an org- an organization with any strength <v Gerald Godin>to threaten the state, either Canadian <v Gerald Godin>or Quebec state. <v Robert Bourassa>A small group of people but even if this [interviewer: how small a group?] perhaps <v Robert Bourassa>a few of the people, but they were strong enough to create a lot of trouble. <v narrator>Canadian troops moved into Quebec overnight, placing Montreal under military <v narrator>occupation. Under a state of emergency, the FLQ was outlawed <v narrator>and civil liberties suspended. <v narrator>Close to 500 people were arrested without warrant. <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>Long as there is a power in here which is challenging the elected representative of the <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>people, I think that power must be stopped. And I think it's only, I <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>repeat, weak kneed, bleeding hearts who are afraid to take these measures. <v narrator>Words were the only weapons Pauline and Gerald had ever used. <v narrator>Yet they were pulled naked from bed and jailed for 10 days.
<v Gerald Godin>They followed me. They taped me. <v Gerald Godin>They spied on me. They tripped me, they broke in on me. <v Gerald Godin>They fell down on me. They hooked me. <v Gerald Godin>They trapped me. They arrested me without a warrant. <v Gerald Godin>Without a reason. Without a word. <v Gerald Godin>Without a look and they frisked my brain. <v Pauline Julien>With a country of 3 million peoples on arrest, it was. <v Pauline Julien>It was like that. You know, because the army was everywhere and <v Pauline Julien>every people was afraid to maybe, my neighbor is arrested, why not me? <v Gerald Godin>And I still have that shiver when I think about these, these days. <v Gerald Godin>I'm still mad at them like hell because it was supposed to be a free country, <v Gerald Godin>a democratic country. And this about Canada. <v narrator>Despite the show of force, no evidence of an insurrection was ever found, <v narrator>and no one jailed was ever sent to trial. <v narrator>But police made a grim discovery about the missing cabinet ministers. <v radio announcer>At 11:10 p.m. exactly close to St. Hubert airport that the
<v radio announcer>car, which was used one week ago to kidnap Pierre La Porte in front of his home <v radio announcer>on robotized Street at St. Lambert was formally identified. <v radio announcer>At exactly 12:25 or other 025. <v radio announcer>The trunk of the car was finally opened and the body of Mr. La Porte was discovered, <v radio announcer>covered in blood. <v Gerald Godin>I was in jail when all this happened. <v Gerald Godin>And all we could see from the from the jail window was the half mast <v Gerald Godin>flag of Quebec on the roof an official building, <v Gerald Godin>that was visible from the 13th floor of the jail. <v Gerald Godin>The Partenaire, Hilton they called it. <v Gerald Godin>And in fact, it was that day that I had that very deep <v Gerald Godin>thinking about violence and terrorism for Quebec. <v Gerald Godin>And I came to the conclusion that it was a dead end and that that La Porte was <v Gerald Godin>not... <v Gerald Godin>responsible for all that had happened and
<v Gerald Godin>that he shouldn't have died, in fact. <v narrator>Le Porte's murder horrified Quebeckers and support for the FLQ faded away. <v narrator>Soon after, the kidnappers released the British trade commissioner and went into exile. <v narrator>The October crisis was over, but its impact would live on. <v narrator>Gerald's arrest strengthened his commitment to a separate Quebec. <v narrator>He decided that a new nation would not be won by bullets, but by ballots. <v narrator>He joined Rene Levesque PQ and began to organize for separatism. <v narrator>The poet was now a politician. <v Gerald Godin>[Speks French: without you, I am nothing. <v Gerald Godin>With you, we can do anything.] <v narrator>Enthusiastic party members nominated Gerald as a candidate in the coming provincial
<v narrator>election. He would run head to head in the same district as the man who put him behind <v narrator>bars. Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa. <v Gerald Godin>I said to myself, that man Bourassa, is one of the guy who put me in <v Gerald Godin>jail. Let's go and do the job and try and beat him. <v Pauline Julien>[Singing in French].
<v narrator>Voters soon found out that Gerald Godin was not a run of the mill politician. <v narrator>One morning they woke up to find a message from him in their mail slot. <v narrator>It wasn't a pamphlet. It was a poem. <v Gerald Godin>[Speaks in French: The cockroaches of Parliament, the fancy dancers. <v Gerald Godin>The trashcans of Canada, my profit, my free ride. <v Gerald Godin>The conmen in the nation's pawn shops, honesty is trampled, <v Gerald Godin>dignity is violated, the shady operators.] <v narrator> Separatism swept across Quebec like a crusade. <v narrator>Gathering converts from federalism in its wake. <v narrator>November 15th, 1976 a hushed Quebec witnessed <v narrator>history. <v Speaker>[Speks French: Bourassa's out! Hurrah Godin!]
<v narrator>Gerald Godin had defeated the Quebec premier in his own district. <v narrator>Incredibly, separatist leader Rene Levesque was the new premier of Quebec. <v René Levesque>[Speaks French: I never... I never imagined I'd be so proud to be a Quebecer. <v René Levesque>We're not a small people, we're something like a great people]. <v narrator>For Levesque, it was only the first step. <v narrator>During the election, he pledged that Quebec would remain in Canada until he held <v narrator>a referendum on independence. <v narrator>But Canada could no longer take Quebec for granted.
<v Gerald Godin>It was that night a coitus noninterruptus for hours and hours and hours and <v Gerald Godin>I would say for 10 years it's been like that because politics is so <v Gerald Godin>stimulating, interesting and full of challenges every <v Gerald Godin>day. <v narrator>Gerald Godin, poet, publisher and journalist was now an elected member <v narrator>of parliament. The man who'd been behind bars was in the seat of power. <v narrator>One day, as a minister in the government he would ride in a limousine shauffered by the <v narrator>same policemen who'd arrested him. <v narrator>Gerald faced an unusual challenge. <v narrator>He represented a French district that included a heavily ethnic neighborhood. <v narrator>And the irony was soon clear. <v narrator>After years of fighting for the French language and a French country, Gerald would now <v narrator>have to sell separatism to the Portuguese and the Greeks. <v Gerald Godin> [Speaks French: He's a Godin.
<v Gerald Godin>Godinho's shoe repair, a Portuguese relative.] <v Gerald Godin>It's a cousin, probably the same root, uh someone in Portugal <v Gerald Godin>came here and his name is Godinho. <v Gerald Godin>It's the same Adam and Eve. <v Gerald Godin>The first Godin maybe in Europe. <v Gerald Godin>So he's a member of the family. <v Gerald Godin>I wonder if he votes for me. <v Pauline Julien>[Sings in French]
<v narrator>The separatist government feared that a tidal wave of English would one day engulf the <v narrator>French culture in Quebec. <v narrator>It was determined to protect the French language before it was too late. <v Gerald Godin>The language you learn on your mother's knees is the only <v Gerald Godin>language in your life you will totally control and make other people understand <v Gerald Godin>what you have in your heart and your mind and your brain. <v Gerald Godin>This is the natural resource you have. <v Gerald Godin>Its the most precious one because you've learned it on <v Gerald Godin>the knees of your mother, and on the streets of your cities and <v Gerald Godin>with your neighbor. So it is deep tool you have to express yourself. <v Gerald Godin>And if you lose it, you're dead. <v narrator>Gerald played a major role in promoting a new French language law Bill 1 0 1. <v narrator>Its purpose was to make Quebec a strong French speaking state. <v narrator>In the past, immigrants had sent their children to English schools. <v narrator>Now they would have to enroll them in French schools so that they would grow up speaking
<v narrator>French. The new language law also required that commercial signs <v narrator>be written in French, once the only language of business, English was <v narrator>now blotted out. <v narrator>It was controversial legislation and put Gerald in a difficult position. <v narrator>He was a writer asked to defend what amounted to the censoring of another language. <v Peter Gzowski>I mean, you were g- you didn't agree with the principles of this bill and then again, you <v Peter Gzowski>had to defend it all the time. <v Gerald Godin>Well because I knew- <v Peter Gzowski>Did you change your mind or did you lie? <v Gerald Godin>Both [Gzowski: yeah?] both yes, both, both. <v Gerald Godin>I did both. <v Peter Gzowski>You changed your mind and you lied. <v Gerald Godin>Yeah. <v Gerald Godin>I lied to myself a little bit, but when I was considering like a good Jesuit <v Gerald Godin>the, the overall effects of what I was doing. <v Gerald Godin>I couldn't, I couldn't say otherwise than those who did were right, because <v Gerald Godin>you always choose between two evils in life. <v Gerald Godin>That's one things I learned in politics and being a minister and deputy and member of <v Gerald Godin>parliament.
<v Speaker>[Speaks in French: The snakes on the grass of Parliament, <v Speaker>the fossils of our learned societies, <v Speaker>the stench of the ministerial chambers. the diddlers of equality and independence. <v Speaker>Those who accept gifts, the slathering millionaires, <v Speaker>cheaters for the highest bid, the peddles of federalism up our ass. <v Speaker>and the cesspool of bribes. <v Speaker>the fat-cats of CB-Sleaze TV] <v Gerald Godin> [Speaks French: That was after the October crisis. <v Gerald Godin>It was the cry of an angry young man.] Of an angry young man, in fact. <v Gerald Godin>And then when I think I want to become myself a minister, and a member <v Gerald Godin>of the assemble nacional and to run. <v Gerald Godin>I was wondering if the youngsters my age at that time will use the <v Gerald Godin>same words about me. That always remain in my mind. <v Gerald Godin>What do they say now about me?
<v Gerald Godin>Do they say also that my action de ministre stinks <v Gerald Godin>one way or the other? <v Gerald Godin>Do they think I am a co- cockroach of parliament cockroach? <v Gerald Godin>Because I don't do the right job. <v Gerald Godin>So it was my conscience. In fact, I wrote my own confession <v Gerald Godin>before being guilty in that poem. <v narrator>In 1979, Premier Levesque made a historic announcement. <v narrator>He would hold a province-wide referendum to seek the right to separate from Canada. <v narrator>It was the start of a huge campaign asking Quebeckers to vote "oui" yes <v narrator>to negotiations for independence. <v narrator>Pro-Canada Federalist urged Quebec to vote no and the French speaking province split in <v narrator>two. <v narrator>The United States had decided its future in a civil war, but Quebec would do it more <v narrator>politely at the ballot box. <v narrator>A sea of banners soon festoon the province and the political fervor rose.
<v narrator>The Canadian prime minister entered the fray, fighting for the survival of his country, <v narrator>warning Quebeckers that independence could mean disaster. <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>[Speaks French: If the majority of Quebecers voted yes, would the laws of democracy <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>require us to negotiate? <v Pierre Elliot Trudeau>Of course not!]. <v narrator>For the separatist leaders, everything was at stake. <v Pierre Bourgault>[Speaks French: The law is in English, business is in English, Life is in English. <v Pierre Bourgault>We have to gather our courage simply to survive]. <v narrator>Gerald and Pauline went out on the hustings urging Quebeckers to take the beautiful risk <v narrator>of a new country. <v Pauline Julien>[Speaks French: I believe in a strong, autonomous, independent Quebec]. <v narrator>May 20th, 1980, referendum day.
<v announcer>[Speaks French: "Oui" 1,350,385 <v announcer>votes. <v announcer>"Non" 1,956,734 <v announcer>votes. <v announcer>40.8% voted yes. <v announcer>and 59.2% voted no.] <v narrator>Four out of 10 Quebeckers had voted yes. <v narrator>It was not enough. <v narrator>Pauline tried to rally the crowd. <v Pauline Julien>[Speaks French: Tonight, for all our supporters, <v Pauline Julien>The Dance at St. Dillon.] <v Pauline Julien>[Sings in French]
<v René Levesque>[Speaks French: If I've understood you you're saying "until next time". <v René Levesque>I am confident that one day <v René Levesque>Quebec will move forward to meet its destiny. <v René Levesque>and that we will be there to join in. <v René Levesque>There's just one thing, can we end this evening by singing, all of us
<v René Levesque>what's still Quebec's loveliest song for everyone in Quebec, without exception. <v René Levesque>Would someone start "People of this Land" my voice is almost gone. <v René Levesque>People of this land...]. <v crowd>[Singing in French: ... your turn has come to speak of love. People of this land your turn has come to speak of love.] <v narrator>For Levesque, there would not be a next time in a few years he <v narrator>would be dead. <v Pauline Julien>[Speaks French: He won't be here the next time.
<v Pauline Julien>Maybe the question was badly worded. <v Pauline Julien>The people who weren't able to inform themselves, <v Pauline Julien>through meetings pr the press were taken in by the propaganda <v Pauline Julien>and couldn't see the pros and cons. <v Pauline Julien>They were blinded by federalist propaganda. <v Pauline Julien>It was inevitable. <v Pauline Julien>But it's not over yet. <v Pauline Julien>Mommy, mommy, I love you dearly. <v Pauline Julien>Please tell me once again that beautiful story. <v Pauline Julien>(One day they set sail from France to build a village, a city, a country.). <v Pauline Julien>Mommy, Mommy, how come we lost again? Oh mommy, mommy <v Pauline Julien>are you the one to blame?
<v Pauline Julien>Oh mommy tell me why it's too late, too late, <v Pauline Julien>much too late. <v narrator>Personal tragedy followed the political. <v narrator>In 1984, Gerald had an attack of epilepsy. <v narrator>Doctors discovered a massive brain tumor and rushed him to hospital for surgery. <v Gerald Godin>And that night I thought, I would be dead in a few days, that was <v Gerald Godin>the worst moment. And then I also rediscovered how much <v Gerald Godin>I loved Pauline, how much I was loved by her. <v Gerald Godin>But I didn't die. <v Gerald Godin>Because each interface of each gesture of everyday life has <v Gerald Godin>exploded in his planetarium because he bumps into the doorjams
<v Gerald Godin>with his left shoulder, because the neurons that regulate the traffic <v Gerald Godin>of words are giving him traffic jams, and often his words come out <v Gerald Godin>bumper to bumper like cars at 5:00 when he wants to talk. <v Gerald Godin>Because the left corner of his mouth can't hold in his food because <v Gerald Godin>he spends his days looking for things he hasn't even lost. <v Gerald Godin>I said to myself, I'm caput, finished, terminé. <v Gerald Godin>And then I thought about committing suicide. <v Gerald Godin>But I said to myself, in the <v Gerald Godin>end, it's so long that time that you pass um, <v Gerald Godin>in the cemetery, compared to the short span of life you have standing <v Gerald Godin>on the soil. <v Gerald Godin>That you better be there alive. <v Gerald Godin>Standing on your two feet. <v Speaker>[Speaks in French: Its a pleasure. Your health.] <v narrator>Today Gerald is fully recovered.
<v narrator>He still represents the same district in the provincial. <v narrator>But now he's a member of the opposition. <v narrator>The man he defeated in 1976, Robert Bourassa, is once again the premier <v narrator>of Quebec. Gerald and Pauline have watched Quebec change, grow <v narrator>more confident. A new wave of Quebec entrepreneurs is taking French-run <v narrator>business to the world in ways unimaginable 20 years ago. <v narrator>The economy is booming. <v narrator>French is now the official language of work, allowing Quebeckers to enjoy their recent <v narrator>gains. Politics is on the backburner. <v narrator>Ironically, the PQ's success has reduced Quebec's frustration with Canada <v narrator>and weakened its own support. <v narrator>For now, the passion for independence has melted into the countryside like the snow. <v Gerald Godin>But still we have to stick to our guns. <v Gerald Godin>Keep on laughing and writing and fighting and talking. <v narrator>Gerald and Pauline know that as long as Quebec is surrounded by English North America,
<v narrator>its language and culture are vulnerable. <v narrator>They are convinced that sooner or later, young Quebeckers will take up their struggle <v narrator>and the cycle will begin again. <v Pauline Julien>[Sings in French] <v Pauline Julien> Enough of this narcissism. <v Pauline Julien>Are you crying?
<v Gerald Godin>It's beautiful <v Pauline Julien>This is me! <v Pauline Julien>Cry for me now, not for my past. <v Gerald Godin>It's not you, it's creation. <v Gerald Godin>It moves me when people create beauty that stirs your emotions <v Gerald Godin>and touches you deep inside. <v Gerald Godin>She's such a cold woman. <v Gerald Godin>To think I chose her for her passion. <v Gerald Godin>She observes people like a clinician. <v Pauline Julien>Don't give me that! <v Pauline Julien>The teardrop hangs in your eye like a pearl. <v Pauline Julien>It could be habit-forming. <v Speaker>[Sings in French]
Canada: True North
Episode Number
No. 103
A Song for Quebec
Producing Organization
WTVS-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-526-7w6736n36n).
Episode Description
"Few countries in the world are more vital to each other's interests than the United States and Canada. Historic agreements on the free trade, strategic defense and trans-border environmental issues are currently taking place between the two nations. Yet most Americans know little about their northern neighbor. 'A song for Quebec' is one of a four-part series of documentaries on Canada that seeks to fill that information gap. "The recent, turbulent history of Quebec is seen through the eyes of two people whose own lives reflect the revolution the French province has undergone. Singer Pauline Julien and pet/activist Gerald Godin were at the forefront of the movement to separate Quebec from Canada and to preserve French culture. They met and fell in love in 1962, the year the Front de liberation de Quebec (FLQ) was born. While deploring the FLQ's use of violence, Julien and Godin shared its anger at politicians who left working-class Quebecois economically underprivileged and powerless. "In October, 1970, the FLQ's violence increased and the War Measures Act was proclaimed. Godin and Julien's home was raided and both were arrested. Public support for Rene Levesque's Parti Quebecois grew and it took power in 1976. Levesque then called for an independent Quebec, placing a separatist referendum before voters. The campaign was a bitter one, but the referendum was voted down 60 percent to 40 percent. "Today, Godin and Julien speak in bittersweet tones about the Quebecois movement. Although their efforts to preserve and strengthen Quebec's French language and culture succeeded, a separation from English-speaking Canada was not achieved."--1988 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WTVS-TV (Television station : Detroit, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-05c0c5ad3c8 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 1:00:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Canada: True North; No. 103; A Song for Quebec,” 1988, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Canada: True North; No. 103; A Song for Quebec.” 1988. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Canada: True North; No. 103; A Song for Quebec. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from