Sunday, January 09, 2005

Crossfire in the Wake of the 1995 Referendum: Quebec's English Media and Provincial Power Dynamics

Crossfire in the Wake of the 1995 Referendum: Quebec's English Media and Provincial Power Dynamics. This interesting essay is by Daniel Faichney. It was published in the Winter 2004 issue of the Michigan Journal of History.

From the site:

On the evening of October 30th, 1995 a quiet corner of North America grappled with a political crisis. The province of Quebec , long dissatisfied with its role in the larger Canadian polity, had narrowly defeated a proposal to separate from Canada . Amid the confusion among the province's mainstream electorate, the polarized voices for and against secession cried loudly in response to the results. Rallies in favor of either side filled the city of Montreal with two different crowds. In the days which followed Referendum Day's height of tension, Quebec 's English language, or anglophone, news media followed a complex path. This path was as equally characterized by relief and confidence as it was by caution and anger. Instead of placing an emphasis on consensus building – as it had done in the past – the media instead offered a fractured outlook on the referendum and its implications.

Five newspaper articles, from the Montreal Gazette and the McGill University Reporter , articulated several different responses to a post-referendum situation that was, above all else, charged with emotion. The referendum, because it was won for federalism by mere 1.54% margin, was more a sign of popular indecision than a victory for the continued cohesion of Canada . [1] Attempting to frame the outcome in a positive light, the Montreal Gazette emphasized that a miniscule majority was nonetheless a valid majority. In the interest of delegitimizing the separatist movement, which had acquired a nearly equal mandate from the electorate, the Gazette focused on the offensive concession speech of provincial Premier and separatist leader Jacques Parizeau.

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