Quebec Voters Narrowly Reject Independence from Canada (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: In 1995, voters in Quebec, a largely French-speaking area, narrowly defeated a referendum that would have given the province the right to pursue independence from Canada.
Although most of Quebec’s more than seven million people are French-speaking Catholics, many of whom seem greater autonomy for the province, about 18 percent are predominantly Protestant English speakers, who are adamantly opposed to independence from Canada for Quebec. Additionally, a growing number (about 2 percent) of those living in Quebec are immigrants. Their political loyalties lie with the federal government in Ottawa, as do those of Quebec’s sprinkling of Native Canadians.
Canada’s division into two large communities—English speakers who identify with the federal government in Ottawa and the French speakers living in Quebec whose allegiance is to the provincial government—dates from 1534, when Jacques Cartier claimed the St. Lawrence Valley for France. By 1670, when England granted the Hudson Bay Company a charter to develop the adjacent territory, the French presence was firmly entrenched in what is now Quebec. By 1759, when Britain conquered New France, the French culture was firmly established in the area—a fact London recognized in the Quebec Act, which formalized British rule over the region by preserving Quebec’s French civil codes and the freedom of the Catholic Church....
(The entire section is 1056 words.)
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