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Nine Canadian Premiers Fail To Mollify Quebec Separatists

Tue., Sept. 16, 1997

Quebec separatists scoffed Monday at a new initiative in English-speaking Canada to dissuade their province from secession, saying it is cowardly and insulting.

Jacques Brassard, a senior Cabinet minister in Quebec’s separatist government, said the premiers of the nine English-speaking provinces have been too timid to acknowledge that French Quebecers are a distinctive people.

The premiers, at a meeting Sunday boycotted by Quebec, agreed to consult with their citizens on how to convey two messages: that all provinces are equal but that Quebec’s linguistic and cultural uniqueness is recognized by the rest of Canada.

The premiers hope the initiative will boost the chances that federalist candidates might unseat Quebec’s separatist government in a provincial election next year. That would remove the imminent threat of another referendum on secession, such as the one in 1995 that separatists nearly won.

Brassard said the premiers’ initiative is feeble compared with Britain’s acknowledgment that the Scots - now preparing to form their own Parliament - are a people in their own right.

The premiers “didn’t go as far as that. They didn’t dare,” Brassard said. “It’s a clear desire to refuse to recognize the Quebec people.”


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