Impact and Legacy

Short term and Long term effects

It is clear that Parent’s efforts were eventually rewarded despite all the challenges and obstacles she faced. Her actions and activities have resonated through time and their impact can still be felt today. Every time you receive your pay check, are allowed paid vacation and enjoy a cup of coffee on your break, it is because of the work of strong labor movement leaders such as Madeleine Parent. While her activism and leadership in the labor movement produced many immediate results, Parent left behind a much broader legacy of ideas such as collective action, continuing protection of workers and female empowerment.

Immediate effects

Madeleine Parents work firstly Mobilized.

What parent did resulted in an increase in collective action. Individual efforts would be in vain. It was her and Rowley’s ability and dedication that allowed them to acquire great support in order to achieve more concrete goals.

Sending memo’s, meeting invitation, updates and any other type of document that served to inform and encourage workers to join their movements are some of the ways in which the two gathered enough support to achieve their goals.

It is important to note that Madeleine Parent allowed individuals to come together before the development of online communication. While sifting through the archives, one of the most prominent documents were memos, meeting updates, petitions or reports that addressed the protestors and kept the movement very much solidified and collective.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 4.24.34 PM

photo from Madeleine Parent: Activist. 

” If it is not today, it will be tomorrow provided that we remain mobilized, all of us together”[i]

These types of movements set precedents and put an emphasis on collective action.

It was with these tactics that in 1946 6000 cotton workers succeeded in creating a union.

 The Valleyfield cotton factory strike [ii]

Results :

  • Acknowledged Rights to seniority
  • Right to submit grievances
  • Right to contest work by piece wages

Valleyfield strike- photo[iii]

Her success with the Valleyfield factory is just one of the many ways in which Parent made an impact in the labor movement.

After her achievements with the textile union, Parent turned her attention towards repatriating unions to Canada.

1969- founded the Confederation of Canadian Unions[iv]

Its purpose was to establish a labor union independent of the dominance of united states.

This had many profound effects that resonated throughout history.

In 1968 –  70% of union workers in Canada contributed to American Unions.

In 1988 – rate fell to 30%

It is clear that this union achieved its goals. Once again, Parent and Rowley’s work and efforts manifested themselves through concrete results.

It was the first labor union t call for equal pay of equal value.

Nowadays the CCU still works towards bettering the working conditions of Canadians.

The CCU Participates with various social activist groups including: Canadian center for policy alternatives and the council of Canadians. Members write to different levels of government on issues of pay equity, social services, labour standard and has expanded its range of influence to education and health care. It Still Supports members during labour disputes.[v]

The battle did not end when Madeleine Parent retired. She left behind the CCU which continues to ensure and promotes values of equality, equity, fairness and justice. In a way the CCU is probably Madeleine Parent’s most important legacy. By founding it she established a precedent for future achievements in labor movements and ensured the continuance of progress achieved while she was a militant.

Objectives [vi] :

Establish Fair and equal income, working hours and conditions

Protect members form unjust treatment

promote, protect and support legislation in favor of the interests of all unionized workers.

Not only does the CCU support better working conditions, it also aims at promoting unity and collective support through alliances with other unions. This goes back to Parent and Rowley’s ability collectively mobilize people and to bring the Canadian unions under the umbrella of the CCU.

Since its formation, the CCU continues to help workers ensure equal, fair and just conditions for themselves. It is in this way that Madeleine Paren’s work can still be felt today.


Madeleine Parent with the Current leader of the CCU Joanie Cameron Pitchett.


Today Quebec has the highest rate of unionization in Canada (Quebec politics class notes). While this is not a direct result of Parent’s work, it is a clear indication that the quiet revolution and the activists involved allowed the province to achieve such high levels of unionization. The FTQ, the CSN and the CSD are some of the biggest unions in Quebec at this moment. They also continually show support and defend workers against injustices of the workplace. This is thanks to a history of activism in Labor movements such as Parent’s work[viii]. It is also undeniable that unions have great power specifically in Quebec. The state works and cooperates with these influence groups, ensuring the maintenance and improvement of working conditions[ix].Madeleine Parent’s activities helped shape the workings of Quebec government. Protest culture, organization and group influence face the Government each day and it must work to integrate their demands when making decisions.

Female leadership

Additionally, when Rowley was arrested in 1946, Parent was forced to take over. As a female in power, Parent inadvertently empowered women to take charge. She describes a moment when women were “chanting her name”, united and supportive towards the realization of female leadership. This led her to become a key player in the founding of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Her work and influence in the domain of women movements as a long term impact has helped redefine the role of women in society and contributed to ideas of gender equality in the workplace and in a social setting. “The influence of Madeleine Parent on Quebec’s feminist movement is immense,” said Alexa Conradi, president of the Quebec Womens’ Federation, in a news release. “She always looked for ways to build bridges between women in the movement and those of diverse origins.” [x]

madeleine parent leadership


When Madeleine Parent retired in 1983, she continued working for the rights of women, specifically aboriginal women. She became a friend and ally to the cause.

Unfortunately Madeleine Parent passed away in March of 2012. She left behind a career filled with successes and inspired people to continue working for social progress.

madeleine parent retirement


[i] (


[ii] Levesque, Andre, Ed. Madeleine Parent: Activist. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2005. Web.


[iii] Morton, Desmond. “Woking People : An Illustrated History of the Canadian Labor Movement.” Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999. Web.









[viii] Belanger, Eric. POLI226 La Vie Politque Quebecoise. Montreal, QC: McGill University, 18 Feb. 2014. Lecture Notes.


[ix] Belanger, Eric. POLI226 La Vie Politique Quebecoise. Montreal, QC: McGill University, 2 Apr. 2014. Lecture Notes.





One response to “Impact and Legacy”

  1. roxannecloutierpeace says:

    wow great blog!

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