The Morning After

Chantal Hébert and Jean Lapierre explore what might have happened if the 1995 referendum over Quebec's sovereignty had gone the other way.

Chantal Hébert, with Jean Lapierre

Only the most fearless of political journalists would dare to open the old wounds of the 1995 Quebec referendum, a still-murky episode in Canadian history that continues to defy our understanding. The referendum brought one of the world's most successful democracies to the brink of the unknown, and yet Quebecers' attitudes toward sovereignty continue to baffle the country's political class. Interviewing seventeen key political leaders from the duelling referendum camps, Hébert and Lapierre begin with a simple premise: asking what these political leaders' plans were if the vote had gone the other way. Even two decades later, their answers may shock you. And in asking an unexpected question, these veteran political observers cleverly expose the fractures, tensions and fears that continue to shape Canada today. (From Vintage Canada)

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From the book

Handed a Yes vote, Chrétien would have seen his options essentially boiled down to two — neither of which was guaranteed to help Canada or Quebec arrive at a mutually satisfying resolution to the crisis.

He could attempt to slow the Yes train down long enough that he could try to switch it onto another track, one that led to a destination other than the break-up of Canada; or, failing that, long enough to sketch out a roadmap to guide Canada and Quebec through uncharted constitutional territory; or, if all else failed, long enough to hand the controls of a functioning federal government to someone else. In theory, as prime minister, Chrétien was in the driver's seat. But no one — starting with him — could anticipate how quickly the acid of a Yes vote would corrode the lines that connected him to the political gears driving the federal government.

From The Morning After by Chantal Hébert with Jean Lapierre ©2014. Published by Knopf Canada.

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