Jacques Parizeau, 1995
In the mid-1990s, it seemed as if the French-speaking residents of Quebec might finally muster enough votes to secede from Canada and establish an independent state. Quebec's newly elected premier, Jacques Parizeau, was a staunch supporter of independence and called a referendum to turn the idea into a reality.
The referendum was narrowly defeated, with 49.4 percent of Québécois voting in favor of secession and 50.6 percent voting against. But it was Parizeau's disastrous speech to his supporters following the defeat that hardened many citizens' feelings against secession. His address was a hard-edged appeal for ethnic solidarity directed to French-Canadians, referring to the group as "us" -- presumably to the exclusion of the rest of his fellow countrymen. "It's true we were beaten, yes, but by what?" he asked. "By money and ethnic votes, essentially."
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