Monday, July 19, 2021

Montreal's Days of Shame: When 75 Doctors Went on Strike until a Jewish Doctor Resigned


Montreal French Catholic anti-semitism Quebec hate xenophobia racism medicine history

In the 1930s, the calls to boycott Jewish businesses and stop hiring Jews rang out. The location of these odious messages wasn't Nazi Europe; it was in Montreal, Canada. Anti-Jewish feeling was running so high that when a Montreal hospital hired a Jewish intern, it triggered mass walk-outs by doctors at hospitals across the city. This little-remembered boycott shook Jewish communities across Quebec and deserves to be known about today.

In the 1920s and 1930s reactionary nationalist feelings were running high in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec. “Many Quebecois viewed Quebec as the surviving remnant of the French Roman Catholic ancien regime that had been ended by the French Revolution,” explains Dr. Edward C. Halperin, who researched the 1934 doctors’ strike. Before 1963, there was no option for receiving a secular public education in the province (all schools were either Catholic or Protestant), and the region’s highly religious Roman Catholic schools inculcated a fear and dislike of non-French Catholics.

“Children in Quebec’s Roman Catholic schools received an education emphasizing royalist and religious values. Jews, Asian persons, and Black persons were viewed as undesirable immigrants and economic competitors.”

Amid the economic misery of the Great Depression, some of Canada’s most influential leaders blamed Jews for the poor economy. Jewish stores were boycotted in Ottawa. In Quebec an Achat chez or Achat chez nous - “Buy from Home” movement quickly turned into an anti-Jewish tool, urging French Canadians to boycott Jewish businesses.  (more...)

Montreal's Days of Shame: When 75 Doctors Went on Strike until a Jewish Doctor Resigned

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