Coalition of separatist groups rallying for an independent Quebec
MONTREAL - A few days ahead of la Journée nationale des patriotes, an umbrella group of separatist organizations is trying to fan the fires of Quebec independence.
The Cap sur l'independance, which translates as the Route toward independence, includes 20 grassroots separatist groups from across Quebec.
The group's arguments have been oft-repeated, with members saying Quebec would save $4.5 billion if citizens were not sending money to Ottawa, that independence is the only way to ensure the survival of the French language, and that English Canadians have been waging a battle for centuries to assimilate French Canadians and eliminate their language.
One of the group's key figures is Gilbert Paquette, a former cabinet minister in René Levesque's Parti Québécois government. He says the group's primary goal is to show the sovereignty movement is still alive in light of the disastrous results for the Bloc Québécois in the federal election and polls suggesting Quebec does not have much of an appetite for another referendum.
"Sovereignty for us isn't linked with political parties," Paquette says.
Group spokesperson Catherine Dorion says she is firmly convinced that Quebec and Quebecers will be in a rut until independence is achieved.
"Our aim is to convince a majority of Quebecers that -- and we need a strong majority -- we want to convince them that sovereignty is the best idea to take Quebec out of its position where nothing happens and nothing can happen, and we have this feeling of you can't do anything, you know, you can vote but it won't change anything," said Dorion.
Dorion, however, says it is not only the Francophone majority they want to reach out to, but to the Anglophone community as well.
"Quebec is one of the places in the world where minority rights are the most respected," she said.
The group says it will bring its battle into the new millennium by using social media and hosting public events, including marches in a number of cities and towns on Monday.
This weekend, on May 21, they will stage a concert in downtown Montreal with performers such as Paul Piché, Loco Locass, Marie-Elaine Thibert and Bernard Adamus.