1995 Quebec referendum: A "Yes" alliance
"À la prochaine fois!" ("Until next time!") promised René Lévesque after the 1980 Quebec referendum. Fifteen years later, on Oct. 30, 1995, Quebec and the rest of Canada faced that "next time" as Quebecers decided whether to separate from Canada. Though they voted to stay by the narrowest of margins, the referendum provoked questions about Canadian identity and Quebec's place in Confederation. CBC Archives relives a period when this country very nearly split apart.
• The agreement among the popular francophone leaders was forged the previous week by Parizeau, whose message of unilateral sovereignty was proving unpopular with Quebecers.
• The Tripartite Agreement on Sovereignty stated that the three parties "agreed to join forces and to co-ordinate our efforts so that in the fall 1995 referendum, Quebecers can vote for a real change: to achieve sovereignty for Quebec and a formal proposal for a new economic and political partnership with Canada."
• In the lead-up to the June announcement, Parizeau's government was struggling with public apathy regarding sovereignty and a series of political gaffes.
• In the week before Monday's declaration, one of Parizeau's backbenchers resigned after being disciplined for voting against the budget, while another called the education minister a liar.
• On June 10, Parizeau was publicly embarrassed during an appearance on the Quebec cable channel Musique Plus, where he was interrupted by raucous political video clips and a Mexican mariachi band.
• Parizeau's partnership was considered a political masterstroke by many, who saw it as a winning bid to revive his party's flagging popularity.
• The Toronto Star called it "another boost [for sovereignty]" while the Financial Post dubbed it "a publicity triumph."
• By joining with Bouchard, the extremely popular Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, and Dumont, the 25-year-old leader of the moderate ADQ, Parizeau managed to expand the popularity of sovereignty, which had been hovering at 40 per cent for months.
• The deal also saw Parizeau steer away from his long-stated goal of unilateral separatism in favour of a more moderate plan.
• Unlike his original vision, the retooled referendum would see Quebec launch formal negotiations for "a new economic and political association" with Canada in the event of a Yes majority. If the negotiations failed after a year, the government would then have the power to declare Quebec's sovereign status.
• This softened Parizeau's long-established goal to have the referendum pose a clear question on sovereignty alone.
• This change was seen as a concession to both Bouchard (who questioned public support for separation) and Dumont, who supported a renegotiated association with the federal government.
• The new union was called a "mirage" by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who accused the trio of not having "the guts to say that they are separatists."
• Federal Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest slammed the sovereigntist side, comparing their proposal to an open marriage: "I don't know of a lot of divorces where people walk out of the courthouse and step back into the family home."
• The Bloc Québécois was formed in 1990 by a coalition of like-minded Quebec MPs who defected from their original parties after the failure of the Meech Lake accord. Lucien Bouchard, who quit his job as the federal minister of the environment, headed up the new party, which was committed to promoting and achieving Quebec sovereignty.
• Led by Bouchard, the BQ won 54 seats in the 1993 federal election – two more than the Reform Party – earning it Official Opposition status.
• The Action Démocratique du Québec, or ADQ, was formed in January 1994 as a fiscally conservative option to the Parti Québécois and the Quebec Liberal Party. The ADQ was originally headed by former Quebec Liberal MNA Jean Allaire, who resigned for health reasons and was replaced by Mario Dumont – the ex-president of the provincial Liberal Youth association.
• While Dumont originally supported a "soft nationalist" approach to sovereignty, he has promised a moratorium on separation since the No side win in 1995.
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: June 12, 1995
Guest(s): Jean Charest, Jean Chrétien, Stephen Harper, Lucienne Robillard
Host: Alannah Campbell, Bob Oxley
Reporter: Alvin Cader, Bernard St. Laurent Duration: 5:42
Last updated: March 30, 2012
Page consulted on September 10, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
Newly elected Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau promises a referendum on...
Three of Quebec's political heavyweights join forces to promote a new ...
The Yes side launches a hard sell for sovereignty while the No side bi...
Jacques Parizeau unveils his blueprint for Quebec sovereignty which in...
The Canadian dollar takes a dive after the world's financial markets c...
Jean Chrétien says separatists will need more than a simple majority i...
The Yes side legally launches its campaign for the Oct. 30 referendum.
Three days before the fateful vote, a huge crowd converges in Montreal...
With the Yes and No camps in a dead heat voters cast their ballots on ...
A razor-thin victory for the No side prompts relief, resentment and on...
Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard delivers his concession speech t...
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responds to the razor-thin No victory in ...
The Quebec Liberal leader addresses No supporters in Montreal.
In 1995 the controversial former Quebec premier looks back at the day ...
The real divide in the referendum result seems to be between rural and...
A new bill in Parliament seeks to define the terms of future referendu...
"À la prochaine fois!" (Until next time!) promised René Lévesque after...