CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

1995: Chrétien’s passionate plea for unity

The Story

Just days before the 1995 Quebec referendum, an emotional Jean Chrétien addresses the nation through a live, televised broadcast calling for Canadian unity. In this heartfelt speech, the prime minister pledges to recognize Quebec as a distinct society while repeatedly emphasizing its importance to Canada. He also implores Quebecers not to break up the country, asking "Have you one reason, one good reason, to destroy Canada?''

Medium: Television
Program: Jean Chrétien Addresses the Nation
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 1995
Speaker: Jean Chrétien
Duration: 11:48

Did You know?

• While the Canadian government urged Quebecers to vote No in the referendum, the Bloc Québécois, a political party devoted to the sovereignty of Quebec, supported the Yes vote.

• Both Chrétien and Bloc leader Lucien Bouchard addressed the nation ahead of the referendum. Although Chrétien delivered the same speech in English and French, Bouchard used a harsher tone in his French speech to warn Quebecers not to believe the prime minister's distinct society promise. • U.S. president Bill Clinton chimed in to support the No vote by describing Canada as a "model to the world" and expressing concern over a possible split.


• Five days after Chrétien's plea for unity, Quebec chose to stay in Canada by a very narrow margin, with the No side winning 50.58 per cent of the vote.  



Addressing the Nation: Prime Ministers of Canada more