The Quebec Referendum

One of the most intense moments in Canadian history happened on October 30th, 1995.  A referendum was held in Quebec asking people of that province if they wanted to separate from Canada and create their own independent country.

The idea of a sovereign Quebec dates back to the 1960’s when a separatist group known as the FLQ began terrorizing Quebec with bombs and violence in their bid for a “free Quebec.”  The FLQ kidnapped and British Diplomat visiting Montreal along with a Quebec Cabinet Minister.  The British Diplomat was killed and his body was left in the trunk of a car.  The Canadian government invoked the War Measures Act and called in the military to patrol Ottawa streets.  Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau gave this famous interview at the height of the “October Crisis.”

After the October Crisis, the FLQ lost support but the separatist movement continued to grow when a new political party was formed in Quebec.  Rene Levesque was the leader of the Parti Quebecois and would eventually become Premier.  He called a separatist referendum in 1980 but lost.

The idea of a separate Quebec would rise again in 1994 when Jacques Parizeau became the new leader of the Parti Quebecois.  He was elected as Premier and promised another referendum in 8 to 10 months.

Jacques Parizeau Canadian podcast.jpg
Jacques Parizeau promised a referendum within 8 to 10 months of being elected

The vote was held on held on October 30, 1995 and the separatist dream was extinguished by the smallest margin possible.  50.58 per cent of Quebecors voted not to separate.



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