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Acadians: The ‘other revolution’

The Story

For the children attending one-room schoolhouses, it's difficult to look ahead to the future. Living conditions are rural on the northern and eastern coasts of New Brunswick. Attaining stable employment is difficult and it's very hard to earn a decent wage. Louis Robichaud hopes to change this with his new Program for Equal Opportunity. But in this CBC Radio feature, his critics accuse him of being power hungry and dictatorial. The sweeping reforms proposed by the Royal Commission on Finance and Municipal Taxation, also known as the Byrne Report, suggest a dramatic restructuring of government services and authority. It has been called the most exciting experiment in local government. But others are opposed to the massive restructuring and are unconvinced that centralization will really lead to improved living conditions.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: Dec. 17, 1965
Guest(s): Henry Irwin, Louis Robichaud
Host: Mary Casey
Duration: 14:46

Did You know?

. When the Byrne Commission was established in 1962, three New Brunswick counties hovered on the brink of bankruptcy. Responsibility for social services, education, health care and legal services was shared between the county, city and town authorities with little organization.

. The Byrne Commission proposed a shift toward provincial authority over education, justice, public health and welfare. It also provided for equalization grants to municipalities that could not afford to provide a standard level of service. To expand revenues, the Commission also proposed an increase in the provincial sales tax.

. The Byrne Commission especially targeted the school districts as being too numerous. In 1952, there were 422 distinct districts in New Brunswick. The Byrne Commission proposed they be streamlined to 60.

. Premier Louis Robichaud adopted many of the Commission's suggestions in his Program for Equal Opportunity. He wanted to even out the varying standards of living across New Brunswick. He used this platform to win the provincial election of October 1967.

. Edward Byrne was maligned by the English-speaking majority for pandering to the Acadian population following the release of his report. He soon left the province for Bermuda and returned in 1988. In 2001, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada and was hailed as "an architect of modern New Brunswick."


The 'Other Revolution': Louis Robichaud's New Brunswick more