M996.10.143 | Bill 23
1976, 20th century
Ink on paper
41 x 31 cm
Gift of M. Serge Chapleau
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , various themes (1105)
Keys to History
With Bill 23, Robert Bourassa's Liberal government left members of Québec's teachers' union with no room to manoeuvre. By the look of this teacher's precarious position, the cartoon seems to be suggesting that the government's measures were a little extreme.
The difficult negotiations between the government and the teachers' unions hit an impasse in 1976. To break the deadlock, the Liberals passed harsh legislation, including coercive measures that earned them lasting resentment.
Note on the blackboard the seemingly childish message "Boubou caca" (Boubou poo). It may well refer to then Premier Bourassa, whose popular nickname was Boubou.
A trade union Common Front was established in 1976. The government passed Bill 23 in April that same year.
The Québec teachers' union, the Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec (CEQ), represented the interests of its 85,500 members in 1976. Robert Bourassa was premier of Québec from 1970 to 1976, and again from 1985 to 1994. The police officer in the cartoon symbolizes the coercive aspect of Bill 23: he's saying, "Just shut up and teach!"