Starting Saturday evening, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., Quebeckers will be collectively confined to their homes, for the first time in their history.
The newspaper consulted several historians to take stock of the thorny issue of the curfew.
It emerges that this is an unprecedented measure, which has never been used across Quebec, not even during the major crises and the two world wars.
Professor at Laval University
“To my knowledge, there has been no general curfew for all of Quebec” in history, argued Donald Fyson, full professor in the department of historical sciences at Laval University.
An opinion shared by historians Jean-Marie Lebel and Gilles Gallichan. The latter is retired from the National Assembly. “Nationally, generalized, it seems that for 200 years, there has been no case” of curfew, says Gallichan.
Nor has a curfew been imposed to combat a virus.
“It is a first in the history of Quebec to impose a curfew linked to a pandemic,” said medical historian and associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal Denis Goulet. “I am adamant about it. “
Certainly, health measures were imposed during the epidemics of the Spanish flu in 1918 and the Asian flu in 1957. But no curfews or the imposition of fines or police surveillance.
During the episode of the Spanish flu, very deadly, the authorities did not have time to impose such a measure, because its virulence was very short in time, notes Mr. Goulet.
During the two Great Wars, localized and occasional curfews were put in place. As during the riot in Quebec City’s lower town in 1918, recalls historian Réjean Lemoine.
Or during the sporadic exercises during which the citizens of the cities had to turn off the lights, for fear of the German threat, in the early 1940s, underlines Mr. Gallichan.
During the October Crisis in 1970, the War Measures Act contained a general clause that allowed Ottawa to adopt security measures in times of war or insurgency, but the curfew was not imposed.
And, even after the Conquest in 1759, the British forced the citizens of Quebec to return home at night, reveals Gilles Gallichan.
However, in all these cases, the measures did not apply to the entire population of Quebec.