The 1980 Quebec Referendum: Why Quebec Considered Separating from Canada

The 1980 Quebec Referendum: Why Quebec Considered Separating from Canada

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As one of the founding nations of Canada, Québec felt that they have been mistreated and that the French language has been ignored by the rest of Canada. In 1968 René Lévesque, an ex-journalist, founded the first separatist political party in Canada, the Parti Québécois (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). Lévesque wanted to address the fact that Québec society was distinct and had both a differing view of domestic and foreign policies than the rest of Canada and should therefore become a separate country from Canada (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). On May 20, 1980 the first referendum in Québec took place. This referendum allowed public to vote on the role of Québec within Canada and whether Québec should pursue a path toward independent statehood (www.en.wikipedia.org). By directly involving the citizens of Québec, this would add to the Québec-Ottawa dispute (Government of Canada 70).

On November 15, 1976 René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois were elected in Québec, winning the popular vote with 71 of 110 seats (Conway 86). The first step that Lévesque would take in order for Québec sovereignty would be to develop its own foreign policy (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). Lévesque started L'Opération-Amérique to help try to find support from other countries on Québec's independence (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). Lévesque anticipated that the United States would understand Québec's situation and continue to be open-minded on the issue of Québec sovereignty (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). It was important for Québec to have the United States remain neutral in order to maintain close business relations with them. ...


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...s a distinct society because they had both a differing view of domestic and foreign policies than the rest of Canada and for that reason should become a separate country (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). Lévesque experimented with several ideas on how to gain support for Québec sovereignty. To try and find support from other countries on Québec's independence, Lévesque started L'Opération-Amérique (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). In response to Lévesque's attempts to separate from Canada, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau proposed a constitutional reform to renew federalism and promote unity (www.pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca). Despite all of Lévesque's efforts to separate, the results of the referendum on May 20, 1980 did not favour Lévesque's separatist party and the province of Québec has, to this day, remained a part of Canada.

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