Lucien Bouchard claims he could have won 1995 referendum
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 8:57PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:57PM EDT
Lucien Bouchard has told a documentary filmmaker that he believes that he could have attracted 55 percent support for sovereignty in the 1995 referendum had Jacques Parizeau not overruled his strategy of holding a pair of votes.
Bouchard wanted the first question to ask whether voters would give the government the mandate to negotiate Quebec sovereignty with a political and economic partnership with Canada and then proceed with talks.
“Then we’d submit to a second referendum," said Bouchard. "Nobody can convince me that we would not have won 55 percent on the first referendum.”
Bouchard made the comments in an interview for an upcoming documentary by Carl Leblanc.
Leblanc says in his documentary that over 150 sovereignty referendums have been held worldwide since 1914 and only three – two of them in Quebec – were rejected by voters.
Friendship with Mulroney is irreparable
Although they were once close friends, Lucien Bouchard says there's no way to repair his ruptured relationship with Brian Mulroney.
"We run into each other occasionally in Montreal or elsewhere and I think we have an agreement to not embarrass each other," Bouchard said Wednesday.
"We'll shake hands, but to sit down and have a coffee -- no. I don't think that's possible. It's not a matter of honour. There are wounds."
Bouchard made the comments after the screening of a new documentary on his political career which will be broadcast Monday evening on the public Tele-Quebec network.
Mulroney, who became prime minister in 1984, named Bouchard as Canada's ambassador to Paris in 1985 and then brought him into his cabinet as environment minister in 1988. They had known each other since law school.
But they fell out in 1990 when Mulroney was trying to salvage the floundering Meech Lake constitutional accord. It was during that time that Bouchard sent a telegram of support to the Parti Quebecois and declared he was a sovereigntist. An outraged Mulroney fired him from cabinet and the two men have never spoken again.
"Friends should not be in politics together when they disagree over principles," Bouchard said Wednesday.
Bouchard went on to found the Bloc Quebecois with a handful of disgruntled Conservative and Liberal Quebec MPs in 1991. He would become leader of the Official Opposition when the Bloc took 54 seats in the 1993 election.
Bouchard said Wednesday he never saw the Bloc as anything more than something to prepare the ground for the 1995 referendum, seeing it as a "one-shot" deal.
While the Bloc remained a strong political presence for most of its existence, it was crushed in the 2011 federal election by a surging New Democratic Party and now has only three members in Parliament. Bouchard would not comment on his old party's current woes.
Bouchard said he was convinced that his political career was over on the night the sovereigntists narrowly lost the Oct. 30, 1995, referendum.
"When we came home...I was going to finish the session in Ottawa and that was going to be it," he said. "I was going to come back to Montreal and resume practising law."
Instead, he was drafted by the PQ to take over from Jacques Parizeau, who stepped down after the referendum.
Bouchard said he believes the results of the 1995 referendum might have been different if it had been presented to Quebecers in a two-pronged format -- one referendum to negotiate Quebec sovereignty from Canada with a political and economic partnership and then another to approve the results of the bargaining.
Bouchard hopes he won't see a third referendum in his lifetime because he says he thinks it will be unsuccessful.
"It's clear. I hope I won't see it because we'll lose a third one. There's no way we can expose ourselves to losing a third one.
"Later on, I don't know."
The documentary was based on 22 hours of interviews shot over five days and will be broadcast on Tele Quebec on August 25.