Premier begs Quebec not to destroy union
Friday 27 October 1995
Invoking a rarely-used section of the Broadcasting Act relating to national crises, Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, commandeered national air time for an emotional plea to fellow Quebeckers not to turn their backs on the country they helped to build.
Federalists also have organised a rally in Montreal today, at which thousands of Canadians will join federalists within the province to strengthen the message that they want Quebec to remain in Canada.
Looking haggard and older than his 61 years, Mr Chretien warned Quebeckers not to be fooled by the separatist promise of a trouble-free divorce after which they can have independence and keep the benefits of economic union with Canada.
He repeated that he would support changes in the constitution to include recognition of Quebec as a distinct society and to restore Quebec's veto over changes that might affect its language, culture and power within the confederation.
His promise was attacked by Lucien Bouchard, leader of the Bloc Quebecois party in the federal parliament and de facto leader of the separatist campaign in Quebec. He said the Prime Minister's about-turn on constitutional reform was phoney. "There is no wind of change blowing through Ottawa, just a wind of panic," he said.
Until this week, Mr Chretien had remained aloof from the campaign, making only a fewspeeches in Quebec restating his belief that most Quebeckers would not vote to break up Canada.
He has also opposed new constitutional discussions after the failure of previous attempts in 1990 and 1992.
Speaking in both English and French, Mr Chretien admitted for the first time that Canada faced a crisis: "What is at stake is our country. What is at stake is our heritage."
He challenged separatists to provide one good reason to destroy Canada and bring about "the end of a country that has made us the envy of the world." He also asked whether the French language and culture would be better protected by a small state of 7 million people up against 250 million English-speakers in North America.
The English-Canadian pilgrimage to Montreal today was sparked off by the Fisheries Minister, Brian Tobin, the silver-tongued Newfoundlander who became a national hero when he led the fight against Spanish fisherman in the so-called turbot war. Within hours, the two national airlines had announced a "unity fare", allowing anyone to fly to Montreal for as little as 10 per cent of the regular price, sparking a clamour for tickets.
News Analysis, page 21
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
A very timely Great Train Robbery and a frantic 24 Hours in A&E among the highlights
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 ‘Why we don't have snow in Saudi Arabia’: Video captures winter fun as Middle East hit with rare blizzard
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Email Campaign Exe...
£100 - £125 per day + Negotiable on role: Randstad Education London: Are you f...
£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A full time teacher job a...
£125 - £135 per day + Long Term Roles are negotiable: Randstad Education Londo...