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25 October 1995
The Honourable Lucien Bouchard
A New But Original Relationship in a Common Future
Televised Speech

The people of Quebec will make on October 30 [a decision that] will also be very important to the rest of Canada. I do recognize and acknowledge that it will have considerable significance for its future. Many of you will be upset on Monday night [30 October 1995], especially if they will have shown sympathy with Quebec. Many Quebeckers, both those who will vote Yes and those who will vote No, will probably have been moved by your ultimate efforts to convince Quebeckers to reaffirm their commitment to the Canada you believe in.

Yet Quebeckers will make a decision on Monday, a decision that they will have carefully reflected upon through a democratic process, the fairness of which does not afford any challenge.

If they vote Yes, they will have decided that Quebec will become a sovereign country and will have given their national assembly the authority to proclaim such sovereignty. But this vote will also mean that the government of Quebec will be bound to negotiate an economic and political partnership with the government of Canada. Quebeckers have been preparing themselves for these negotiations since 1990.

The national assembly and the government of Quebec have sponsored several studies, hired many experts and consulted the citizens on the economic, social, political and legal aspects and consequences of Quebec accession to sovereignty. Canada must also prepare itself for this negotiation. Like Quebec, it has responsibilities towards its working force, its businesses and its national/international creditors.

Canada is not deprived of resources and expertise and I firmly believe it can speedily bring together its best minds -- men and women of good faith to sit at a table with Quebec and negotiate what is in its best interest.

In my capacity as chief negotiator for Quebec, I can assure all of you that I will invest all my efforts, I will give the best of myself in this negotiation and bring it, with the able representatives the government of Canada will appoint, fruition rapidly.

I believe strongly in a future partnership between Canada and Quebec and I think I can speak for an overwhelming number of Quebeckers, if not all Quebeckers, who will also want this negotiation to succeed after Yes. I'm deeply committed to this partnership which will endeavour to maintain our economic and monetary union, ensure the free flow of persons, goods, services and capital between all parts of Canada and Quebec. I'm also convinced that we can agree on a set of common institutions where representatives of both countries will make decisions in an efficient and productive manner.

On the No side, the proposal from the beginning has been that we should choose between a sovereign Quebec and Canada as we know it now. Right from the beginning, the leaders of No camp have refused to suggest any change at all to the Canadian system. Inaction has become their watchword. Mr Jean Chretien, who blocked the way for the Quebec advance towards sovereignty and recognition as a people each time they wanted to act as a nation now has the gall to try to make us believe that he is prepared to consider recognition of the distinct character of Quebec. How can he ask us to put ourselves at his mercy by a second No? The man who is asking us this evening for another blank cheque on our future is the same one who took advantage of our weaknesses after a No in 1980 to tear up the constitution of our ancestors and to impose upon us a constitution that reduced the powers of Quebec in the areas of language and education.

All these questions of a distinct society, of recognition of this or that, all these word games and constitutional niceties have been around long enough. We have wasted too much money and time on sterile squabbles. Let us gather together all of our energies as federalists or as sovereigntists. Let us Quebeckers recognize ourself for what we are, a people, a vibrant country -- proud, welcoming and confident. There are certain things that one does not ask. It is demeaning to ask English Canada to recognize us as a people. All that is finished. We have gone beyond entreaties. People in English Canada and at the federal level were able to say No to us because until now the political weight of Quebec never counted for more than the simple weight of an individual.

The day that we enter upon the world stage as a nation we will achieve our true dimension, not more not less. That day, our action will reflect all the authority that we have been missing up to now. That day we hope with all our hearts will be next Monday, October 30.

Then in the days to follow we'll have our first meeting between nations -- two nations who have never really met, who hardly know each other, will meet. That meeting will be between Quebeckers and Canadians. They will address each other with respect -- sovereign peoples show mutual respect. Those two peoples will talk to each other about their mutual interest and about what they want to deal with in common.

The talk will be of commercial exchanges -- jobs .... They will cover the sharing of the debt contracted by Ottawa.

Quebec will repeat once more its intention to fulfil all its financial obligations and it will act in a responsible manner. It will confirm its commitment to take over its fair share of the common burden. I would like in closing to reassure you, I would even like to convince you tonight, that Quebeckers will not choose sovereignty -- because they reject or dislike Canada and Canadians.

And they are certainly not denying Canada a right to exist and to flourish as a sovereign country. On the contrary, the people of Quebec will once again be taking the initiative of the reform, albeit the reform that will see negotiations and will see Quebec negotiate on -- an equal footing with Canada.

For our peoples, this will be an historic moment, the first authentic meeting of our two collective minds. And negotiations will be a challenge to our creativity and an invitation to continue to share through a new but original relationship in a common future.



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