By Garth Stevenson
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Extra info for Community Besieged: The Anglophone Minority and the Politics of Quebec
Quebec West elected Irish Catholics to the Assembly until 1935. Other ridings in and around Quebec City and in the Gaspe peninsula frequently were represented by anglophones, particularly Irish Catholics, after the turn of the century. As anglophones became increasingly concentrated in Montreal that city and its suburbs became a stronghold of anglophone representation. Because the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly was not fixed, it was easy to increase Montreal Island's representation from the original five seats (including then-rural Hochelaga and JacquesCartier) to eight seats in 1890 and to twelve in 1912.
16 At the London Conference later that year, which Gait attended in spite of his resignation, Section 93 was extended to provide that the minority could appeal to the dominion government for redress if its educational rights were violated by the province, and also that Parliament could adopt remedial legislation to rectify the situation. 17 It is significant, and would prove inconvenient in later times, that the educational guarantees were based on religion rather than language. The English-speaking (mainly Irish) Catholics of Canada East received no guarantees at all, although they comprised more than a quarter of the English-speaking population.
Twenty years later they were obvious enough to cause some anxiety among anglophones, which was expressed with particular force by the Scottish-born editor of the Huntingdon Gleaner, Robert Sellar. Sellar was a Scottish Clear Grit of a kind familiar in western Ontario, a believer in temperance, free trade, limited government, and the separation of church and state. Like others of his ilk in rural Quebec, he was decidedly confused when his party was taken over by Honore Mercier, and this may have increased his penchant for imagining Catholic conspiracies.