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Breaking with the Past: the Famous "Désormais" (henceforth) of Paul Sauvé
The Instigator of the 100-day Revolution
In the opinion of many social science researchers, the election of the Liberal Party in 1960 marked the beginning of the Quiet Revolution. However, the short, but significant, passage of Paul Sauvé as Premier of Quebec warrants close inspection. Journalists dubbed this period the 100-day Revolution.
A New Leader, a New Direction
On September 10, 1959, the same day as Maurice Duplessis' funeral, Paul Sauvé, Duplessis' dauphin and trusted ally for 30 years, was designated to replace him. The official announcement was made the next day. Immediately thereafter, and to the surprise of all, a new order of business was initiated and the Union nationale embraced new positions. Although Sauvé stated that he would pursue the work of Duplessis, he specified that henceforth things would be done differently.
Four Months of Change
In short order, Sauvé initiated several reforms that he would be unable to complete in their entirety. Under his leadership, legislation favourable to workers was voted in, provincial civil servants received substantial wage increases and their working conditions were improved. Measures were implemented to encourage progress in the field of education (increase in grants to classical colleges and legislation to increase teachers' wages) and the minimum wage was increased. In federal-provincial relations, Sauvé agreed to the principle of hospitalization insurance and the construction of the Trans Canada Highway. He negotiated with Ottawa an agreement covering university grants, all items that Duplessis had rejected offhand in the name of sacrosanct provincial autonomy. He also began to purge the Union nationale party of its undesirable elements, a task completed by Daniel Johnson in the 1960s.
In the end run, the one hundred days or so while Paul Sauvé was in power shook up Quebec, setting the province on a new path.