The Morning After

The Morning After

The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day That Almost Was


Book - 2014
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Only the most fearless of political journalists would dare to open the old wounds of the 1995 Quebec referendum, a still-murky episode in Canadian history that continues to defy our understanding. The referendum brought one of the world's most successful democracies to the brink of the unknown, and yet Quebecers' attitudes toward sovereignty continue to baffle the country's political class. Interviewing 17 key political leaders from the duelling referendum camps, the pair asked what the politicians' plans were had the vote gone the other way.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, ©2014
ISBN: 9780345807625
Branch Call Number: 971.404 HEB 2014
Characteristics: xx, 299 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Lapierre, Jean 1956-


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Sep 15, 2019

Reading this book in September 2019 while Great Britain is trying to negotiate its Brexit, I wished it had been mandatory reading for all British politicians prior to the Brexit vote. The nightmare scenarios some Canadian politicians worried about in 1995 are now playing out across the Atlantic.

Dec 26, 2015

While I'm no fan of the paper Chantal Hébert writes for, I must admit that she and Jean Lapierre did an impressive job by interviewing nearly all of the key players who were in the thick of the battle during the 1995 referendum. Asking each person what would've likely happened had half a percentage point gone the other way, I was surprised by some of the answers but not when it came to Jean Chretien's, who I've always felt was a cross between a mafia thug and an embarrassing buffoon. His conduct during this whole ugly episode reminds me of a lazy high school student who goofs off for months before deciding to do his assignment the night before it's due. And by not clearly defining what constituted a victory or a clear question before the referendum took place, he ceded any authority to negotiate on Canada's behalf if the Yes side had won with a 50 plus 1 majority. On the contrary, the person who made the most sense while reading The Morning After was Preston Manning, who a majority of Canadians would have trusted a lot more than the Chretien-led liberals to negotiate a settlement with an independent Quebec. A lot of important issues are raised in this book, which still remain a subject of fierce debate more than twenty years after the dust began to settle.

Oct 23, 2014

After nearly two decades two of Canada's best known reporters, Chantal Hébert and Jean Lapierre, dares to ask the question - what if Quebec had voted yes in the 1995 referendum? Among the answers: Jacques Parizeau had set aside $17 billion in case there was a run on the Canadian money markets, Lucien Bouchard felt he would have been a stooge for Parizeau instead of the promised "lead negotiator" and Mario Dumont feeling simply used and that a yes vote was actually one for a renewed federation. On the federalist side, many ministers feeling that Jean Chrétien made a huge mistake by not making contingency plans in case the yes won, the point woman who was in fact given absolutely no mission at all, and Preston Manning who would have vowed to force the government to drive a hard bargain. The provincial premiers of the time are also heard from, including Mike Harris who was forced to admit a yes vote would have brought an abrupt end to his hard right agenda and Frank McKenna who was asked by a cabal inside the federal government to lead a government of national unity. What I found stunning, though, was Chrétien who just threw his hands up on the distinct society issue after years of fighting it ... and how he didn't seem to mind burning bridges when he needed them at the time of Canada's greatest peacetime crisis. A well researched book where the interviewers allowed the subjects to tell the story their way.

Oct 15, 2014

Well written. Although with the benefit of time and hindsight, good to capture the thoughts and comments of those on the front lines from every angle. Excellent job looking at an important time in history in Canada without partisanship. Well done Chantal!

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