Money and the ethnic vote

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"Money and the ethnic vote" is a phrase that is part of a speech by Jacques Parizeau. On October 30, 1995, Parizeau, then-Quebec premier, walked onto the stage of the Convention Centre in Montréal and gave arguably the most controversial concession speech in the history of Canada. The pro-sovereignty camp had just narrowly lost the 1995 Quebec sovereignty referendum—50.58 per cent to 49.42 per cent.

Parizeau's top aide, Jean-Francois Lisée, would later tell CBC documentarians that he heard Parizeau use "nous", the French word for "we" or "us", in reference solely to native French-speaking Canadians, and he knew they were in trouble.

«On va parler de nous : à 60 pour cent, on a voté pour». ("We'll talk about us: at 60 per cent, we voted in favour.")

He went on to suggest that the next time, the sovereigntists should just aim their efforts at French speakers, because that is how they would win.

Half a minute later:

«C'est vrai, c'est vrai qu'on a été battus, au fond, par quoi? Par l'argent puis des votes ethniques, essentiellement».

("It's true, it's true we were beaten, yes, but by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially.")

The statement was greeted with subdued applause—not as much as the man's arrival or the early results showing the "oui" side in the lead. Lisée later reflected that his gut reaction was to immediately leave the building and that he was in the process of doing so when he ran into Parizeau, who apparently interpreted the look on his top strategist's face and asked him if he felt his speech was "too harsh",[1]

"I said, 'you bet it's too harsh,'" he told the CBC during an interview for Breaking Point, a documentary released on the referendum's 10th anniversary. "'You were worried about being insulted, now you're going to be insulted.'"[1]

The media-storm meant that Parizeau practically committed "political suicide". Parizeau announced his resignation as premier the next day, although he has consistently asserted that he planned to resign long before the vote in the event of a "Yes" defeat.

The quotation[edit]

Original[edit]

(Crowd singing: Gens du pays, c'est votre tour / De vous laisser parler d'amour)
"Mes amis,"
"C'est raté, mais pas de beaucoup. Puis c'est réussi, c'est réussi sur un plan. Si vous voulez, on va cesser de parler des francophones du Québec, voulez-vous ? On va parler de nous : à 60 % , on a voté pour. On s'est bien battu, et nous, on a quand même réussi à indiquer clairement ce qu'on voulait. Puis on a raté par une petite marge, quelques dizaines de milliers de voix. Bon ben, dans un cas comme ça, qu'est-ce qu'on fait ? On se crache dans les mains et on recommence."
"J'aurais bien voulu que ça passe. J'aurais tellement voulu, comme vous tous, que ça passe. On était si proches du pays. Bon ben, c'est retardé un peu... Pas longtemps, pas longtemps! On n'attendra pas 15 ans cette fois-là. Non, non."
"C'est vrai, c'est vrai qu'on a été battus, au fond, par quoi ? Par l'argent puis des votes ethniques, essentiellement. Alors ça veut dire que la prochaine fois, au lieu d'être 60 ou 61 % à voter OUI on sera 63 ou 64 % et ça suffira. C'est tout. Mais là, mes amis, dans les mois qui viennent, on va... Écoutez : Il y a des gens qui ont eu tellement peur que la tentation de se venger ça va être quelque chose! Et là, jamais il ne sera aussi important d'avoir à Québec ce gouvernement du Parti Québécois pour nous protéger jusqu'à la prochaine!"[2]

Translation[edit]

(Crowd singing: People of the land, it's your turn / To let yourself speak of love)
"My friends"
"It's lost, but not by much. But it's a success, it's a success in a way. Please, let's stop talking about the francophones of Quebec, would you? Let's talk about us: at 60% we voted for (independence). We fought well, and we ... we even showed clearly what we wanted. And we missed by a small margin, by a few tens of thousands of voices. Well, in a case like this, what do we do? We spit in our hands and start all over again.
"I really wanted this to go through. I wanted it so badly, like all of you, that it would get through. We were so close to a country. Well, it's been delayed a little ... not for long, not for long ... we won't wait 15 years this time ... no, no ..."
"It's true, it's true that we have been defeated, but basically by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially. So all it means is that, in the next round, instead of being 60 or 61 per cent to vote YES, we will be 63 or 64 per cent and it will suffice. That's all. But now my friends, in the months that will come, we are going to... Listen: Some people got so afraid that the temptation to take revenge is going to be something! And never again will it be more important to have a Parti Québécois government to protect us until the next time!"[3]

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