The return to prosperity brought new life to the French-speaking middle class that had begun to emerge during the 1920s. Professionals from various fields, small business owners and insurance agents took part in debates over Québec’s future, alongside new professionals such as economists, university professors and specialists in labour relations.
The media provided a window on the world, making culture more accessible to the population and influencing public opinion.
Educational levels rose among French-speaking Montrealers. For many, education became synonymous with social mobility. Classical colleges, the archetypal symbol of social mobility, proliferated.
The burning desire for a modern society so eloquently and fervently expressed by a group of artists in the manifesto, Refus global was also a concern for the new French speaking elites who demanded increased intellectual freedom and ambitious, large-scale socio-political reform.
The Church remained on the defensive. Overwhelmed by the growing demand for education, hospitals and social services, it found itself obliged to hire lay people, who did not easily accept the religious communities’ control.
French-speaking elites denounced the status of French-Canadians as second-class citizens in their own city. Anger grew over English uniligualism and workplace discrimination against French-speaking citizens. This sentiment was fanned by events perceived as insults.