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Droit civil, condition ouvrière et transition au capitalisme industriel au Québec

  • Thierry Nootens (a1)

This article undertakes a reconstruction of the legal scheme under which the working class in Quebec had to operate, from the enactment of the Civil Code of Lower Canada in 1866 to the adoption of provincial accident legislation in 1909. Examination of the laws governing wage labour shows a quite blatant contradiction of the liberal ideal of the formal legal equality of all individuals: in many respects, the marginalization of workers is at the core of Quebec’s civil law at the time. During that period, however, Quebec revised the content of the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure as it applied to workers on a relatively frequent basis. The limited nature of those reforms, some of which were complex and difficult to put into effect, appears to suggest that the legalistic approach to social issues had been exhausted as a response to the social upheavals instigated by wage labor, its risks and weaknesses.


Cet article propose une reconstitution du régime juridique avec lequel devait composer la classe ouvrière au Québec, de l’adoption du Code civil du Bas-Canada en 1866 à la mise en place d’une législation provinciale sur les accidents de travail, en 1909. L’examen des règles de droit relatives au salariat contredit de manière assez franche l’idéal libéral d’égalité juridique formelle des citoyens : à bien des égards, la marginalisation des travailleurs est inscrite au cœur même du droit civil québécois du temps. Cependant, la province de Québec revoit assez fréquemment, durant cette période, le contenu du code civil et du code de procédure civile applicable aux ouvriers. Le caractère limité de ces réformes, pour certaines complexes et difficiles à concrétiser, traduirait une espèce d’épuisement du recours à la juridicisation du social en tant que réponse à l’ébranlement de la société sous les coups du salariat, de ses risques et de ses fragilités.

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Andrew Stritch , « Power Resources, Institutions and Policy Learning: The Origins of Workers’ Compensation in Quebec », Canadian Journal of Political Science 38, 3 (2005) : 549-79.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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