Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fiery Orator Ignites Passion for Quebec Nationhood

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fiery Orator Ignites Passion for Quebec Nationhood

Article excerpt

AFTER months of trying and failing to ignite Quebeckers' enthusiasm for a plan to secede from Canada, one man - Lucien Bouchard - appears to have finally struck a hot spark of separatist fervor.

With an Oct. 30 referendum vote on secession nearing and separatist support fading fast, Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau stepped aside on Oct. 7 and, in desperation, handed over the reins of the "Yes" campaign to Mr. Bouchard.

Bouchard is leader of a contingent of 53 separatists in Canada's House of Commons. His seemingly less-scripted, passionate oratory contrasts sharply with the stiff, professorial Parizeau. In only a week, that charismatic messenger has begun to generate emotion and fresh hope within the Yes camp.

Until Saturday, polls had consistently shown support for Quebec independence slipping away. Now there is a perceptible shift, analysts say.

"One major event happened last week," says Claude Gauthier, chief of research for CROP, a respected Montreal polling firm. "That one thing was the arrival of Lucien Bouchard on the front lines."

After his appointment to lead the Yes forces, Bouchard, long the province's most popular politician, immediately went into overdrive. In the past week, he has been crisscrossing the province, appearing at rallies, television interviews, and at meeting halls - his fiery oratory dominating media coverage.

"Some say that perhaps we should put our decision off until later and let our children decide," Mr. Bouchard told a crowd in Sorel, Quebec, on Tuesday. "We have no right to waste another generation and lose our time with sterile debates." Again and again, he struck his theme: "No one in Quebec wants to say 'No' to Quebec."

Quebec newspapers are calling it the "Bouchard effect" and pollsters are beginning to see the first results in a jump in the number of Quebeckers favoring a break with Canada.

According to a poll published Saturday by Groupe Leger & Leger, a Montreal firm, 49.2 percent of Quebeckers would vote yes in the Oct. 30 referendum on secession compared with 47.2 percent just a week ago.

The same poll showed the number of Quebeckers who would vote no to secession falling to 50. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.