Documentary: Climbing the Cross

Mont Royal's cross in Montreal.

Mont Royal's cross in Montreal.


In June 1988, 20-year-old champion amateur boxer Hans Marotte was a staunch separatist. He climbed to the top of the cross on Mont Royal to unfurl a banner promoting a unilingual Quebec. Marotte became an instant star, the young face of a movement that chanted "Quebec au Quebecois."  Quebec for Quebecers.

Six months later, another young independentist followed in his footsteps and also climbed up to the top of the cross. Hans Marotte was there cheering him on, giving interviews, promoting the cause. So was David Gutnick, describing for As It Happens host Michael Enright what was going on. Marotte spoke to Enright as well.

Twenty-five years later, as the Quebec government makes public its controversial Charter of Quebec values, David and Hans returned to the cross. Only this time Hans Marotte says he has changed.

Now a middle-age lawyer, Hans thinks that the separatist PQ government has made a huge mistake by going after religious minorities. He says he is worried it will show Quebecer to be intolerant. At 20, Hans was convinced an Independent Quebec would be a tolerant, welcoming society.

He is not so sure anymore.

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