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Former premiers Bernard Landry and Lucien Bouchard acknowledge applause before receiving Order of Quebec honours at the National Assembly on June 19, 2008. (MATHIEU BELANGER/Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)
Former premiers Bernard Landry and Lucien Bouchard acknowledge applause before receiving Order of Quebec honours at the National Assembly on June 19, 2008. (MATHIEU BELANGER/Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

Landry attempts to breathe life into ailing Quebec sovereignty movement Add to ...

A group of Quebec sovereigntists including former premier Bernard Landry want to breathe new life into the separatist movement by arguing that Canada is evolving without Quebec and the only viable option left for Quebecers is political independence.

In a document initiated by the Nouveau Mouvement pour le Québec, dedicated to putting sovereignty back at the forefront of the political debate, close to 500 sovereigntists signed a declaration urging Quebecers to end the current deadlock between Quebec and the rest of Canada and begin building their own sovereign country.

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“Our national destinies are moving apart,” the document contends. “The Canadian State is building and imposing itself as the incarnation of the Canadian nation.”

As a result, according to the declaration, Quebec was being left behind and its interests overpowered by those defined by a “Canadian nation” that no longer defined itself as a federation made up of two founding cultures but rather an increasingly centralized state with a single Canadian culture.

“It is one sole culture, the Canadian culture, indifferent to the Quebec culture. So much so that the Canadian federation acts as if it were composed of two official languages but of one culture,” the declaration stated.

According to the group, since the adoption of the Canadian constitution 30 years ago, Quebec and Canada have been at a deadlock Last year’s May 2nd federal vote, which decimated the separatist Bloc Québécois in favour of the New Democratic Party, reflected a “profound discontent” with the status quo allowing for the election of a majority Conservative government without Quebec’s support.

Quebecers didn’t embrace federalism by voting for the NDP last year nor did they say yes to Canada by defeating sovereignty in the 1995 referendum, the declaration contends.

“Canadians live with the political illusion of having defeated the Quebec sovereignty movement. ... Voting NDP does not mean that Quebecers refuse independence,” the declaration concluded. The group explained that Quebec was in “history’s limbo” and that the next time (meaning the next referendum) “they won’t let their future slip though their fingers.”

In their belief, renewed federalism is dead and the rest of Canada will never again want to open a constitutional debate in order to satisfy Quebec’s demands. The proof they argued could be found with the polices adopted by the Conservative government in Ottawa which has abandoned the principles of federalism to views contrary to Quebec values.

“Our future as a Quebec nation lies outside Canada. There is no Canadian dream for Quebec, nor any Quebec dream for Canada. There is no future nor any place for Quebecers within this unitary State,” the declaration concluded.

When it was first founded last summer, the movement headed by former Parti Québécois member Jocelyn Desjardins was critical of the current PQ leadership, accusing it of being outdated and confused.

Mr. Desjardins said yesterday the movement’s views haven’t changed. He argued that PQ leader Pauline Marois was following the wrong path to achieving independence by refusing to commit her party to holding a referendum.

With the help of PQ members, including party MNA Bernard Drainville who signed the declaration, the voices of dissidence within the sovereignty movement towards Ms. Marois’ strategy continue to be heard even though she has successfully climbed back into the lead in public opinion polls after overcoming a divisive internal party debate.

The Movement’s declaration, according to Mr. Desjardins, served notice to the PQ that should it form the next government, pro-sovereignty groups will be pushing hard to convince Ms. Marois to prepare another referendum on sovereignty that they will demand be held as soon as possible.

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