Letter: Flying the flag for Quebec democracy

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Sir: Hugh Winsor, writes (report, l June) that a Canadian might be sent to jail for "waving a flag for Canadian unity". That is inaccurate and misleading.

The person in question is being charged for the violation of the Quebec law on referenda. Inspired by the British experience in the referendum on the common market in the 1970s, the Quebec law provides for two umbrella committees, whose purpose, in the spirit of democracy, is to make sure that each side plays by the same rules and restricts itself to the same expenditures.

Three days before the referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec and a new partnership with Canada on 30 October 1995, money was spent for a rally without it being channelled through one of the two committees. It is irrelevant whether such an activity was in support of the "yes" side or of the "no" side. It represents a violation of the - British inspired - referendum law.

To describe this offence as flag-waving for Canadian unity is disingenuous, unless, of course, Mr Winsor suggests that people who agree with the cause that he supports can violate the law where others cannot.

RICHARD GUAY

Delegue General

Gouvernement du Quebec

Delegation Generale

London SW1

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