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Quebec adopts motion calling for release of documents from 1995 referendum probe

A large Canadian flag is passed through a crowd in as thousands from all over Canada join Quebecers rallying for national unity three days before a referendum that could propel Quebec toward secession, in Montreal on October 27, 1995. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz A large Canadian flag is passed through a crowd in as thousands from all over Canada join Quebecers rallying for national unity three days before a referendum that could propel Quebec toward secession, in Montreal on October 27, 1995. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
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Quebec's legislature has unanimously adopted a motion calling on the province’s chief electoral officer to release all documents related to an investigation into illegal spending ahead of the 1995 referendum.

The 2006 investigation, overseen by retired judge Bernard Grenier, concluded that two federalist organizations funded by Ottawa failed to report spending of more than $500,000.

More than 90 witnesses appeared during the closed-door inquiry and more than 4,500 documents were entered into evidence, all of which were ordered to be permanently sealed by Grenier, who was appointed by the chief electoral officer.

The Parti Québécois, which introduced the motion, says the public has a right to know what's in those documents.

PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon told the legislature earlier this week that there's no reason for the files to remain classified forever and that there are many unanswered questions about the 1995 vote, which was narrowly won by the No side.

The PQ had originally introduced a motion that would have called on the government to pass a bill ordering the release of the documents, but amended it after discussions with the governing Coalition Avenir Québec.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.

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