3     	                 An Exceptional Situation
4     	               Prime Minister Jean Chretien
5     	             Televised Speech, 25 October 1995
7     	     For the first time in my mandate as prime minister,
8     	I have asked to speak directly to Canadian tonight. I do
9     	so because we are in an exceptional situation.
10    	     Tonight, in particular, I want to speak to my fellow
11    	Quebeckers. Because at this moment the future of our
12    	whole country is in their hands.
13    	     But I also want to speak to all Canadians. Because
14    	this issue concerns them deeply. It is not only the
15    	future of Quebec that will be decided on Monday [30
16    	October 1995]. It is the future of all Canada. The
17    	decision that will be made is serious and irreversible.
18    	With deep, deep consequences.
19    	     What is at stake is our country. What is at stake is
20    	our heritage. To break up Canada or build Canada. To
21    	remain Canadian or no longer be Canadian. To stay or to
22    	leave. This is the issue of the referendum.
23    	     When my fellow Quebeckers make their choice on
24    	Monday, they have the responsibility and the duty to
25    	understand the implications of that choice.
26    	     The fact is, that hidden behind a murky question is
27    	a very clear option. It is the separation of Quebec. A
28    	Quebec that would no longer be part of Canada. Where
29    	Quebeckers would no longer enjoy the rights and
30    	privileges associated with Canadian citizenship. Where
31    	Quebeckers would no longer share a Canadian passport or a
32    	Canadian dollar -- no matter what the advocates of
33    	separatism may claim.
34    	     Where Quebeckers would be made foreigners in their
35    	own country.
36    	     I know that many Quebeckers, in all good faith, are
37    	thinking of voting Yes in order to bring change to
38    	Canada. I am telling them that if they wish to remain
39    	Canadian, they are taking a very dangerous gamble. Anyone
40    	who really wants to remain a Canadian should think twice
41    	before taking such a dangerous risk. Listen to the
42    	leaders of the separatist side. They are very clear. The
43    	country they want is not a better Canada, it is a
44    	separate Quebec. Don't be fooled.
45    	     There are also those Quebeckers who are thinking of
46    	voting Yes to give Quebec a better bargaining position to
47    	negotiate an economic and political partnership with the
48    	rest of Canada. Again, don't be fooled. A Yes vote means
49    	the destruction of the political and economic union we
50    	already enjoy. Nothing more.
51    	     Through the ... campaign, I have listened to my
52    	fellow Quebeckers and heard them say how deeply attached
53    	they are to Canada. I have listened -- and I understand -
54    	- that they have been hurt and disappointed in the past.
55    	I have also heard the voices for change that are ecvhoing
56    	throughout Quebec and across Canada. Our country is
57    	changing. And we all know it. I ask you to remember all
58    	that this government has done over the last two years to
59    	help create change -- positive change.
60    	     The end of Canada would be nothing less than the end
61    	of a dream. The end of a country that has made us the
62    	envy of the world. Canada is not just any country. It is
63    	unique. It is the best country in the world.
64    	     Perhaps it is something we have come to take for
65    	granted. But we should never, never let that happen. Once
66    	more, today it's up to each of us to restate our love for
67    	Canada. To say we don't want to lose it.
68    	     What we have built together in Canada is something
69    	very great and very noble. A country whose values of
70    	tolerance, understanding, generosity have made us what we
71    	are: a society where our number one priority is the
72    	respect and dignity of all our citizens.
73    	     Other countries invest in weapons, we invest in the
74    	well-being of our citizens. Other countries tolerate
75    	poverty and despair, we work hard to ensure a basic level
76    	of decency for everyone. Other countries resort to
77    	violence to settle differences, we work out our problems
78    	through compromise and mutual respect.
79    	     This is what we have accomplished.
80    	     And I say to my fellow Quebeckers don't let anyone
81    	diminish or take away what we have accomplished. Don't
82    	let anyone tell you that you can not be a proud Quebecer
83    	and a proud Canadian.
84    	     It is true Canada is not perfect. But I can not
85    	think of a single place in the world that comes closer.
86    	Not a single place where people lead better lives. Where
87    	they live in greater peace and security.
88    	     Why does Canada work? Because our country has always
89    	been able to adapt and change to meet the hopes and
90    	aspirations of our citizens. We've done so in the past.
91    	We're doing so today. And we will continue to do so in
92    	the future.
93    	     And I repeat tonight what I said yesterday in Verdun
94    	[24 October 1995]. We must recognize that Quebec's
95    	language, its culture and institutions make it a distinct
96    	society. And no constitutional change that affects the
97    	powers of Quebec should ever be made without the consent
98    	of Quebeckers.
99    	     And that all governments -- federal and provincial -
100   	- must respond to the desire of Canadians -- everywhere -
101   	- for greater decentralization.
102   	     And all that can happen quietly, calmly, without
103   	rupture -- with determination.
104   	     To all Canadians outside Quebec, I say do not lose
105   	faith in this country. And continue to show the respect,
106   	the openness, the attachment and the friendship you have
107   	shown to your fellow Canadians in Quebec all through the
108   	referendum campaign.
109   	     Continue to tell them how important they are to you.
110   	And how without them, Canada would no longer be Canada;
111   	how you want them to remain Canadian and you hope, deeply
112   	and profoundly, that they choose Canada on Monday.
113   	     In recent days, thousands of Canadians have taken
114   	the time to send messages of friendship and attachment to
115   	Quebeckers. Keep them coming.
116   	     My friends, once again, our country is facing a
117   	crisis. And crisis and uncertainty exact a very heavy
118   	cost. We all pay a high price for political instability.
119   	     On Monday, once Quebeckers have shown their
120   	commitment to Canada, I want to ask Canadian investors
121   	and foreign investors to show their commitment and
122   	confidence in return.
123   	     Together, we will need to get our priorities back on
124   	track. On economic growth and jobs. And the time is long
125   	overdue.
126   	     My friends, we are facing a decisive moment in the
127   	history of our country.
128   	     And people all across Canada know that decision lies
129   	in the hands of their fellow Canadians in Quebec.
130   	     As a proud Quebecer and a proud Canadian, I am
131   	convinced that a strong Quebec in a united Canada remains
132   	the best solution for all of us. I ask those Quebeckers
133   	who have not yet made their decision to ask themselves
134   	these questions when they vote on Monday:
135   	     Do you really think that you and your family would
136   	have a better quality of life and a brighter future in a
137   	separate Quebec?
138   	     Do you really think that the French language and
139   	culture in North America would be better protected in a
140   	separate Quebec?
141   	     Do you really think you and your family will enjoy
142   	greater security in a separate Quebec?
143   	     Do you really want to turn your back on Canada? Does
144   	Canada deserve that?
145   	     Are you ready to tell the world -- the whole world -
146   	- that people of different languages, different cultures
147   	and different backgrounds can not live together in
148   	harmony?
149   	     Do you really think that ties of friendship and
150   	understanding --- ties of mutual trust and respect can be
151   	broken without harm or rancor?
152   	     Have you found one reason, one good reason, to
153   	destroy Canada?
154   	     Do you really think it is worth abandoning the
155   	country we have built, and which our ancestors have left
156   	us?
157   	     Do you really think it makes any sense -- any sense
158   	at all -- to break up Canada?
159   	     These are the questions I ask each of you to
160   	consider. It's a big, very big responsibility.
161   	     In a few days, all the shouting will be over. You
162   	will be alone to make your decision. At that moment I
163   	urge you, my fellow Quebeckers, to listen to your heart -
164   	- and to your head.
165   	     I am confident that Quebec and Canada will emerge
166   	strong and united.
168   	 October 1995