There was a period of time, little known to anglophone Canadians outside Québec, called the Great Darkness. During this period, the government of Maurice Duplessis ruled almost continuously from 1939 to 1960, with a brief period of Liberal rule from 1940 to 1944. The period was marked by political corruption, with infrastructure projects held back by the government if the population didn’t vote for them, and state-clergy relations were strong, with the Catholic church condemning Duplessis’ rivals and running hospitals and schools. Unions were busted, the welfare state was drained, and rural areas held unprecedented sway over urban affairs; a place that looks nothing like the Québec of today.
Electricity was one of the biggest motivators to change all of this; specifically, a project to nationalize the electrical grid. During the Great Darkness, electrical companies were almost all private, forming inefficient systems for payment and power distribution. The Liberal party of Jean Lesage campaigned under the slogan Maîtres Chez Nous (Masters of our Own House) because they wanted to nationalize foreign-owned natural resource companies. Part of their initiative was to unite and nationalize the whole power grid, a Herculean effort that required years to complete.
The project was an astounding success; to this day Hydro Québec, the utility they formed, contributes over a billion dollars each year to Québec’s coffers. The immense success of the project spurred further nationalization by the Québecois and a stronger sense of national identity; they’d managed to complete their hydro project in short order, and afterwards succeeded in implementing mega projects, with massive dams being constructed to supply electricity to the whole province. Québec continued to implement a strategy of nationalization and socialization of its resources and eventually began to form a new identity, going so far as to stage a referendum on separation from Canada in 1995.
This post is in no way to suggest an allegiance with the Québec nationalist movement, or even a distaste for Duplessis government, which like any government had its pros and cons; rather, it’s to illuminate the power of power. A province that was ruled by a conservative strongman was pushed heavily towards the left due to a successful hydroelectric project; the right to low-cost electricity was a turning point in Québec politics. It’s something to consider when you’re contemplating installing solar panels in your home, buying your own electrical generator, or even voting for a particular government; how it all affects your access to power could be a turning point in your life and in the life of your community.
We have capable electrical contractors ready to complete whatever electrical projects you might have; it could be a simple job or a total rewiring of your house. When you can’t see your hand in front of you, you really are living in the great darkness, so let us be the light that helps you see again. We can even help you achieve energy independence through solar panels; who knows how electricity will shape your next story.