L' Action nationale

L'Action nationale was founded in 1933 by economist Esdras Minville as the voice of the Ligue d'Action nationale. It is the oldest journal of intellectual opinion writing in Quebec.

L'Action nationale was founded in 1933 by economist Esdras Minville as the voice of the Ligue d'Action nationale. It is the oldest journal of intellectual opinion writing in Quebec.


Lionel Groulx
Lionel Groulx questioned the future of French and Catholic survival in an urban, industrial, Anglo-Saxon environment (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-16657).

Ideological Origins

The journal L’Action nationale was a continuation of the monthly magazine L’Action française (1917–28) and L’Action canadienne-française (1928), which represented the “Quebec-first” clerico-nationalist doctrine of Lionel GroulxL’Action nationale has always fought for Quebec’s autonomy, notably against the centralizing tendency of the Canadian federal government in fiscal and cultural matters. (See also Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial RelationsMassey Commission.)

LAction nationale in the 20th Century

In the 1930s to 1950s, L’Action nationale attracted nationalist youth, including editor André Laurendeau (1937–42, 1948–54). The publication was primarily used as a nationalist platform for a number of French Canadian intellectuals, including Lionel Groulx. Prior to the Second World War, the journal also promoted anti-Semitic attitudes.  

In the 1960s, the journal progressively radicalized its stance on constitutional matters between Canada and Quebec. It moved from advocating Quebec’s provincial autonomy to associate-state to outright independence.

Managed by Esdras Minville and François-Albert Angers, the magazine highlighted economic issues, the continuity of French language and culture, the Catholic church and Laurentian history. The publication was also critical of certain reforms brought about during the Quiet Revolution, especially in education. In the 1990s, the journal embraced a new territorial, civic and secular approach to Quebec nationalism.

L’Action nationale Nowadays

Although it has declined somewhat in influence, L’Action nationale remains committed to the goal of Quebec independence and continues to publish regularly. The journal is still a source of intellectual essays that address a range of cultural, political and economic issues.