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Canada in Crisis: The Historical Background

Published in History Today

"We belong to that little group of peoples destined... for a special role, the tragic role. Their anxiety is not whether they will be prosperous tomorrow, great or small, but whether they will be at all..." - Lionel Groulx, Quebec historian

In the speech from the throne at the opening of the Canadian Parliament earlier this year the Governor-General asked: 'Will Canada still exist as a country at the end of this decade or will it have broken up by tensions of our past and recent history?' The question was prompted by the possibility of a majority 'Yes' vote in the May 20th referendum by which Quebecers were asked to give their provincial government a mandate to negotiate a crypto-independence termed 'sovereignty association'. Despite the overwhelming 'No' vote most Quebecers do want some constitutional change and up to 20 per cent would probably opt for outright separation.

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