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French-Canadians victims of ‘soft ethnocide,’ says report partly funded by PQ

The Quebec and Canadian flags.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

A report funded in part by Quebec's governing party says francophones across Canada are the victims of a soft ethnocide.

The study, unveiled Monday in Montreal, was conducted by a Quebec independence group with the help of money from political parties – including the Parti Québécois.

The Estates-General on Quebec Sovereignty project is based on the input of 1,200 people in 13 regions across the province.

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The report's authors say the research represents the first phase of the project. It identifies 92 ways in which the Canadian system hinders Quebec's development against the interests and values of Quebeckers.

The report underlines a wide range of issues such as the end of the long-gun registry, the competing regional interests in energy policy, and how 27 new federal ridings have been created outside Quebec compared to only three within it.

The first item on the list says Ottawa has allowed anglophone provinces to commit "soft ethnocide" on Acadians and the French-Canadian minorities.

"We're reminding people of the evolution of Canada when we systematically eliminated French at the start of the 20th century," said Gilbert Paquette, head of the pro-independence group behind the commission.

Mr. Paquette said the goal of the project was to identify problems with the Canadian Constitution and its effect on day-to-day life in Quebec.

The second phase, set to begin in April, will look at potential solutions for Quebec, he added.

"We will look at how to get rid of these shortcomings of the Constitution," said Paquette, president of the Conseil de la souveraineté du Québec. "I think this effort will link very well the sovereigntist project with everyday preoccupations of citizens."

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He said participants in the first phase included people from political, environmental, union and student groups.

The project, la Commission des Etats generaux sur la souveraineté du Québec, was launched 11 months ago. The term, "estates-general," originally stems from the citizens' assemblies that existed under the French monarchy.

The initiative, however, did not generate much media interest on Monday.

Panelists outnumbered reporters at the new conference, which saw only one question from a French-language news outlet.

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