Duceppe to Newfoundland: Why not separate?
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, April 7, 2010 7:49PM EDT
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said a sovereign Quebec would work well with a sovereign Newfoundland and Labrador.
Speaking to reporters in St. John's Wednesday during a national tour to gauge Canadians' attitudes towards Quebec separation, Duceppe pointed out that Quebec has a closer relationship to Newfoundland and Labrador than British Columbia.
"We have trade, we have some business disputes at certain times -- that's part of life also -- but I think that we could work as a sovereign state, and Labrador and Newfoundland the way they want," Duceppe said.
Before meeting with reporters, Duceppe spoke to students at Memorial University, where he was asked if Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta or other provinces would follow Quebec out of Canada.
"Newfoundland was once a nation, even (had) a national anthem, so it's different from Alberta," Duceppe said.
"But it's your decision. I don't want to talk about what you have to decide," he said as the students laughed.
Newfoundland was a dominion that operated almost as a sovereign country until 1934, when a British-appointed commission was established to oversee it.
Newfoundland joined Canada on March 31, 1949 after a mere 52 per cent of residents voted yes in a referendum.
Three years ago, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams sparked a controversy over whether his province would secede from Canada when his government used a known separatist slogan in a throne speech.
"Our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house," Williams said at the time.
The French translation of "masters of our own house" -- "maitres chez nous" -- was often used by former Quebec premier Jean Lesage in the 1960s.
Williams was forced to clarify that he was not calling for Newfoundland and Labrador to leave Canada.
Duceppe's tour comes some 20 years after the death of the Meech Lake Accord. The accord, which was proposed by Brian Mulroney's government, would have given Quebec status as a distinct society. It died in 1990.
The Charlottetown Accord would have done the same but was voted down in a referendum in 1992.
Critics have said Duceppe's two-week tour of Canada has little to do with starting a discussion on Quebec sovereignty and more to do with the reviving the waning Quebec sovereignty movement within his home province.
With files from The Canadian Press