In what ways has Quebec contributed to Canada?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quebec's contribution to the development of the Canadian nation is both substantial and complicated.

Modern day Canada is a composite of British and French colonialism.  Sixteenth and 17th Century French explorers built their first colony in Quebec, which became the base from which further exploration was conducted.  By the 18th Century, the British had expanded their colonial holdings in North America to include much of Canada, and began pressing in on French holdings.  The 1763 Treaty of Paris between the British and the French effectively ended France's colonial era there.  The new British colonial masters sought to passify French-Canadian resistance to British rule by adopting the Quebec Act of 1774, which ensured that Canadians of French heritage would be able to continue to retain their language, religious practices, and legal system.

By 1867, British-ruled Canada was firmly consolidated.  The distinct cultural heritage of the French, however, continues to provide a powerful source of political tension between English- and French-speaking Canadians.  Attempts by the British-influenced western half of Canada to successfully merge the two cultures have not born as much fruit as the English-speaking Canadians would have liked.  Quebec continues to be the center of a French-speaking nation that often sees itself at odds with its English-speaking brethren.  French-Canadian efforts at ensuring the survival and, at least locally, the dominance of the French language continue to be a source of friction within Canada.  The problem was sufficiently serious that a French-Canadian Marxist independence movement, the Quebec Liberation Front, was active througout the 1960 and into the 1970s.  One of the terrorist groups more infamous actions was its 1969 bombing of the Montreal Stock Exchange.  Another high-visibility action was the kidnapping of British Trade Minister James Cross and the murder of Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte.

While independence-inspired terrorism has not been a problem since the demise of the Quebec Liberation Front in the early 1970s, the organization does continue to have followers who occasionally conduct violent attacks.

With regard to resources, the divide between British Columbia to the west and French Canada to the east is particularly acute.  Canada is a major trade partner of the United States, and energy resources are a large part of that commerce.  Canadian oil has supplied the United States for decades, and the exploitation of Canadian shale as a source of petroleum is a growing factor in U.S.-Canada relations.  That these natural resources are located in the east further illuminates the distinction between the two halves of the country.