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The 1995 Quebec referendum officially kicks off

The Story

There's no turning back now. On Oct. 1, 1995, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau officially launches the Yes campaign for the upcoming referendum. Despite polls showing sovereigntists trailing behind the federalists, Parizeau says he's confident that his side will win. "I think we'll make it. I think we'll have a country pretty soon. Yes, it is exciting," says Parizeau in this clip. But even Parizeau's optimism can't hide the fact that sovereigntists are grasping for ways to turn the vote in their favour. 

Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: Oct. 1, 1995
Guests: Lucien Bouchard, Daniel Johnson, Jacques Parizeau
Host: Wendy Mesley
Reporter: Tom Kennedy, Mark Kelly
Duration: 6:09

Did You know?

• In polls taken just before the official campaign launch on Oct. 1, the No side was leading with 53 per cent to 47 per cent for the Yes side.
• "I don't think we're trailing all that badly. Everybody has their own polls, I no longer comment on polls." Parizeau told reporters who asked why he would call a referendum when the Yes side was lagging behind. (Source: the Globe and Mail, Oct. 2, 1995.)

• A week into the official campaign, Parizeau handed the official leadership of the Yes campaign to the more popular Lucien Bouchard, leader of the Bloc Québécois.
• Bouchard injected new life into the Yes campaign. Days after Bouchard's appointment, a Léger & Léger poll showed Yes side closing the gap with 49.2 per cent to No side's 50.8 per cent. (Source: The Struggle for Quebec by Robert A. Young, 1999.)

• Described as charismatic, eloquent and trustworthy, Lucien Bouchard became even more popular when he survived "flesh-eating disease" (necrotizing fasciitis) in 1994. After three months of recovery and the amputation of most of one leg, he returned to work to much applause from his colleagues in the House.


Separation Anxiety: The 1995 Quebec Referendum more