Quebec referendum, 1995
|1995 Quebec referendum|
|Acceptez-vous que le Québec devienne souverain, après avoir offert formellement au Canada un nouveau partenariat économique et politique, dans le cadre du projet de loi sur l'avenir du Québec et de l'entente signée le 12 juin 1995?
Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?
The 1995 Quebec referendum was the second referendum to ask voters in the Canadian province of Quebec whether Quebec should proclaim national sovereignty and become an independent state, with the condition precedent of offering a political and economic agreement to Canada.
The culmination of multiple years of debate and planning after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, the referendum was launched by the Parti Québécois government of Jacques Parizeau. An eventful and complex campaign followed, with the "Yes" side flourishing after being taken over by Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard.
The referendum took place in Quebec on October 30, 1995, with "No" winning by 54,228 votes (0.58%).
- 1 Background
- 2 Referendum question
- 3 Campaign
- 4 Result
- 5 Contingency preparation for a "Yes" victory
- 6 Controversies Post-Referendum
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
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Quebec, a province in Canada since its foundation in 1867, has always been the sole majority French speaking province. Long ruled by forces (such as the Union Nationale) that focused on affirmation of the province's French and Catholic identity within Canada, the Quiet Revolution of the early 1960s prompted a surge in civic and economic nationalism, as well as voices calling for the separation of the province and the establishment of a nation state. Among these was René Lévesque, who would eventually found the Parti Québécois with like-minded groups seeking independence from Canada. After arriving in power in 1976, the PQ government held a referendum in 1980 seeking a mandate to negotiate "sovereignty association" with Canada that was decisively defeated.
From 1980 to 1982, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared that he would seek to "patriate" the Canadian Constitution and to bring about what would eventually become the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After the Patriation Reference decision from the Supreme Court declared that provincial consent was not required, but desirable pursuant to a constitutional convention, eight provincial premiers, including Quebec Premier René Lévesque, publicly opposed the constitutional amendments. During tense negotiations in November 1981, an agreement was reached with nine of the ten premiers by Trudeau, but not Lévesque. The Constitution Act of 1982 was enacted without the Quebec National Assembly's approval nor Lévesque's.
After the retirement of Trudeau and defeat of the Liberals in 1984, new Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Quebec Liberal premier Robert Bourassa sought a series of Constitutional amendments designed to address Quebec's exclusion, known as the Meech Lake Accord. After initial enthusiasm, public opposition in English Canada eventually scuttled the Accord in 1990, prompting outrage in Quebec. While the Accord was collapsing, Lucien Bouchard, a cabinet minister in Mulroney's government, led a coalition of Liberal and Progressive Conservative members of parliament from Quebec to form a new federal party devoted to Quebec sovereignty, the Bloc Québécois.
Following these events, Bourassa proclaimed that a referendum would occur in 1992, with either sovereignty or a new Constitutional agreement as the subject. This prompted a national referendum on the Charlottetown Accord in 1992, which failed in Quebec and English Canada.
In the 1993 federal election, the Bloc Québécois won 54 seats, making it the second largest party in the House of Commons of Canada, and giving it the role of Official Opposition. In Quebec, the 1994 provincial election brought the sovereigntist Parti Québécois back to power, led by Jacques Parizeau. He promised voters to hold a referendum on sovereignty during his term in office as premier.
Despite agreeing on a referendum, members of the Bloc and PQ differed substantially on what question should be asked of the electorate. The question in the first referendum on Quebec's sovereignty, in an attempt to build a broad coalition, had sought only the authority to negotiate "sovereignty-association" with the Canadian government, and promised a second referendum to ratify the results. Parizeau was a critic of this strategy, as he thought the coupling of sovereignty with association left the movement at the mercy of outside forces if negotiations failed.  He preferred to simply ask the electorate to declare Quebec sovereign, without any binding conditions.
However, Parizeau faced competition in his belief from Ottawa: Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard. A popular and charismatic figure, Bouchard had come close to death from necrotizing fasciitis and lost his left leg. His recovery, and subsequent public appearances on crutches, provided a rallying point for sovereigntists and the public at large. Bouchard thought such a question would doom the project among soft nationalists (such as himself) who worried about the economic consequences of separation. The two leaders engaged in a heated public debate on the issue, to the point that Bouchard expressed ambivalence about participating if a partnership proposal was not included.  Mario Dumont, leader of the Action démocratique du Québec, also stated that he would only consider participation with the yes side if a partnership was not made part of the question.
Fearing Bouchard and Dumont would further dilute their proposals as the referendum wore on, and using the report of the National Commission on the Future of Quebec, noted economic union was the general will of the public, as an instigator, Parizeau entered into negotiations that succeeded in drafting a position that included partnership with Dumont and Bouchard on June 12. The three released a general plan of seeking "sovereignty," and requiring an economic and social partnership offer be negotiated and presented to the rest of Canada, but allowing the government to declare immediate independence if negotiations were not successful or heard. 
On September 7, 1995, Parizeau, Bouchard, and Dumont presented the referendum question, to be voted on October 30, 1995:
In French, the question on the ballot asked:
"Acceptez-vous que le Québec devienne souverain, après avoir offert formellement au Canada un nouveau partenariat économique et politique, dans le cadre du projet de loi sur l'avenir du Québec et de l'entente signée le 12 juin 1995?"
In English, the question on the ballot asked:
"Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?"
The question came under immediate fire from federalists, with Daniel Johnson stating it was confusing and should have contained the word "country." Some federalists argued that the referendum question should not have mentioned "partnership" proposals, because no Canadian political leaders outside Quebec had shown interest in a partnership agreement with an independent Quebec. Parizeau would later express regret that the agreements had to be cited in the question, but noted that the agreement of June 12 referred to had been sent to every registered voter in the province. 
Pursuant to Quebec's Referendum Act (enacted by the National Assembly prior to the referendum of 1980), the campaign would be conducted as a provincially governed election campaign, and all campaign spending had to be authorized and accounted for under "Yes" (Comité pour le OUI) or "No" (Comité pour le NON) umbrella committees. Both committees had an authorized budget of $5 million each. Campaign spending by any person or group other than the official committees would be illegal after the official beginning of the referendum campaign.
After the agreement of June 12, the "Yes" campaign would be headed by Jacques Parizeau. The official "No" campaign would be by chaired Liberal leader Daniel Johnson Jr.
Making matters more complex was the federal nature of Canada. The Bloc Québecois, after the agreement of June 12, would be an active participant on the "Yes" side, while the question of intervention from politicians both within and without the province prompted much internal debate on the "No" side. The governing Liberal Party of Canada and its leader, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, despite having made an electoral recovery in the province in the 1993 Federal election, were not strongly represented in the province outside of Montreal. Chrétien's involvement in the 1982 negotiations and his stance against the Meech Lake Accord made him unpopular with moderate francophone federalists and nationalists, who would be the swing voters in the referendum. Lucienne Robillard, a nationalist former Bourassa-era cabinet minister, would serve as the federal Liberal representative on the "No" committee. Jean Charest, leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party, would be prominently featured, despite his Sherbrooke seat being the only PC seat in Quebec, and one of only two in the country.
Fearing missteps by politicians not used to Quebec that had occurred during the Meech Lake and Charlottetown debates, Johnson and the campaign heavily controlled appearances by Federal politicians, including Chrétien, and bluntly banned any appearance by the Reform Party. This would go unchallenged by Ottawa for the majority of the campaign.
Appointment of Bouchard
Seeing that the "Yes" side was making little progress, and under pressure from others in the movement to create a spark, Parizeau delivered a surprise: In an unannounced ceremony on October 7, Parizeau appointed Bouchard as "Chief Negotiator" for the partnership talks following a "Yes" vote. The bold move came as a dramatic surprise to the campaign, promoting the popular Bouchard to the fore and simultaneously emphasizing the "partnership" aspect of the question. 
Bouchard became a sensation: in addition to his medical struggles and charisma, his more moderate approach and prominent involvement in the Meech Lake Accord while in Ottawa reminded undecided nationalist voters of Federal missteps from years past.  His position was impossible to attack personally, with politicians on both sides describing his appeal as messianic. "No" advisor John Parisella noted that at focus groups, when presented with statements Bouchard had made that they did not like, participants would refuse to believe he meant them. New polls eventually showed a majority of Quebecers intending to vote "Yes"
"No" forces, including Johnson, were shocked by the development, which required wholesale changes in strategy three weeks before the vote.  Unwilling to believe Parizeau had given up his leadership role voluntarily, most in the "No" camp and Ottawa had assumed a coup had taken place, though the maneuver had been pre-planned and voluntary. The dramatic events prompted many Federal politicians to lobby for similarly dramatic intervention from Ottawa and the Federal government, which were refused by the "No" committee, who believed that with Bouchard's introduction the margin for error was dramatically reduced.  The "No" campaign continued to focus on the economic benefits of Federation. 
Bouchard's speeches asked Quebecers to vote "Yes" to give a clear mandate for change, and that the calrity would then allow a final solution to Canada's constitutional issues and a new partnership with English Canada. Bouchard's popularity was such that his remarks that the Québécois were the "white race" with the lowest rate of reproduction, which threatened to cast the project as focused on ethnic nationalism, were traversed with ease. 
Pursuant to the Referendum Act', both committed were required to contribute to a brochure sent to every voter describing their positions. The official "No" response to stated that Quebec was a distinct society, and that Quebec should enjoy full autonomy in areas of provincial jurisdiction. Parizeau, while speaking in Hull, challenged Chrétien to tell voters that, if "No" won, Ottawa would withdraw from all provincial jurisdictions, prompting a vague response from the "No" campaign.
On October 21 in Longueil, Johnson, hoping to defuse the issue, ad libbed a challenge to Chrétien to declare his position on distinct society recognition. When presented with the request Chrétien, in New York for a United Nations meeting, responded, "No. We're not talking about the Constitution, we're talking about the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada." The remarks in direct contradiction to Johnson were portrayed in the press as a blunt refusal.
French President Jacques Chirac, while answering a call from a viewer in Montreal on CNN's Larry King Live, declared that, if the "Yes" side were successful, the fact that the referendum had succeeded would be recognized by France. 
At a federalist rally of about 10,000 people was held at the Verdun Auditorium on Tuesday, October 24, Chrétien promised quasi-constitutional reforms to give Quebec more power, and in a more startling announcement, declared that he would support enshrinement of Quebec as a distinct society within the Canadian constitution. The sudden reversal of Chrétien's long-standing position on the issue, along with Chrétien's wan complexion and atypically nervous appearance, sparked considerable comment.
In response to the referendum, aboriginal peoples in Quebec strongly affirmed their own right to self-determination. First Nations chiefs said that forcing their peoples to join an independent Quebec without their consent would violate international law, violating their rights to self-determination. Aboriginal groups also demanded to be full participants in any new constitutional negotiations resulting from the referendum.
The Grand Council of the Crees in Northern Quebec was particularly vocal and prominent in its resistance to the idea of being included in an independent Quebec. Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come issued a legal paper, titled Sovereign Injustice, which sought to affirm the Cree right to self-determination in keeping their territories in Canada. On October 24, 1995, the Cree organized their own referendum, asking the question: "Do you consent, as a people, that the Government of Quebec separate the James Bay Crees and Cree traditional territory from Canada in the event of a Yes vote in the Quebec referendum?" 96.3% of the 77% of Crees who cast ballots voted to stay in Canada. The Inuit of Nunavik held a similar local vote, asking, "Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign?", with 96% voting No. First Nations communities contributed significantly to the tense debate on a hypothetical partition of Quebec.
October 25, 1995: Three addresses
Five days before the vote, United States President Bill Clinton, while declaring the referendum as an internal issue of Canada, gave a minute-long statement extolling the virtues of Canada, ending with "Canada has been a great model for the rest of the world, and has been a great partner of the United States, and I hope that can continue." While the statement provided relief in sovereignist circles for not being a strong endorsement, the implication of Quebec's most important trading partner endorsing Canadian unity had strong reverberations.
The same night, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gave a televised address to the nation in English and French. Broadly similar in both languages, Chrétien promoted the virtues of Canadian federalism, stated that Parizeau would use the referendum result as a mandate to declare independence (while expliclty not stating the result would be accepted), and announced that Quebec would be recognized as a distinct society and that any constitutional reform that impacted Quebec should be made with the province's consent. 
The "Yes" side was provided airtime for a rebuttal in English and French. Lucien Bouchard was given the task in both languages, with the "Yes" stating that a federal politician should give the response. Bouchard's French address recounted the previous animosities of the constitutional debate, specifically targeting Chrétien's career and actions, including showing a newspaper headline from the aftermath of the 1982 Constitution. Bouchard then focused on the details of the partnership aspect of the proposal. He used his English address to ask Canadians to understand the "Yes" side and to announce an intention to negotiate in good faith. 
Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin, expressing anxiety to his staff about the referendum the week before, was told about a small rally planned in Place du Canada in Montreal for businesspersons on October 27. John Rae relayed to "No" committee member Pierre Claude Nolin that Tobin desired to have Canadians from outside of Quebec at the rally, which Nolin agreed to, provided Quebec's referendum laws were adhered to. Tobin then encouraged fellow caucus members to send as many people as possible to the rally. After gaining permission from the Prime Minister (over the objections of Quebec members of Cabinet), Tobin then appeared on the national English-language Canada AM, and while disavowing any connection with the "No" organization, announced that the "No" side would be holding a rally in Montréal on October 27, and implored Canadians from around the country to attend the rally to support the "crusade for Canada."  Tobin made sure to note that committees were being formed in Ottawa and Toronto, that charter aircraft were being ordered, and that Canadian Airlines had a 90% off "unity" sale. Tobin proceeded to call the chairman of Air Canada and, as a private citizen, suggest planes be made available at the same rate, a request that was granted. Tobin's Canada AM appearance resulted in calls flooding MP's offices in English Canada, and bus companies volunteered hundreds of vehicles to take Canadians from outside of Quebec to Montreal. 
The rally at Place du Canada was estimated to have between 50,000 and 125,000 attendees, with estimates varying wildly as the crowd grew and shrank throughout the day. Jean Chrétien, Jean Charest and Daniel Johnson spoke to the crowd for the occasion, which would become known as the "Unity Rally". Images of the large crowd with an oversized Canadian flag became iconic. 
The federal government's intervention in the rally attracted strident protests from the "Yes" side, who felt the discounts and coordination were an illegal intervention in the referendum. Nolin regretted granting permission for the "No" committee once the scale became known, and Johnson felt the rally only exacerbated tensions with regard to English Canada. Opinions on whether the rally had an impact were divided and unable to be gauged, as the rally happened while the final polls for the Monday referendum were being produced.  Charest felt the rally helped to keep momentum for the "No" campaign moving.
|Completion Date||Polling organisation/client||Sample size||Yes||No||Undecided||Lead|
|Oct 27||Léger & Léger||1,003||47%||41%||12%||6%|
|Oct 27||Unity Rally held|
|Oct 25||Angus Reid||1,029||48%||44%||8%||4%|
|Oct 25||Clinton Remarks, Bouchard and Chrétien Television Addresses|
|Oct 20||Léger & Léger||1,005||46%||42%||12%||4%|
|Oct 18||Angus Reid||1,012||45%||44%||11%||1%|
|Oct 12||Léger & Léger||1,002||45%||42%||13%||3%|
|Oct 7||Lucien Bouchard announced as Chief Negotiator for the Yes side|
|Oct 4||Léger & Léger||1,015||43%||44%||13%||1%|
|Sept 28||Léger & Léger||1,006||44%||45%||11%||1%|
|Sept 27||Angus Reid||1,000||41%||45%||14%||4%|
|Sep 9||Léger & Léger||959||44%||43%||13%||1%|
|Sources: Polls & the 1995 Quebec Referendum, p.15|
A record 94% of 5,087,009 registered Quebecers voted in the referendum.
The proposal of June 12 to proceed with sovereignty for Quebec was rejected by voters, with 50.58% voting "No" and 49.42% voting "Yes". The margin was significantly smaller than the 1980 referendum. Sovereignty was the choice of francophones by an estimated majority of about 60%.
There was a majority "Yes" vote in 81 out of 125 National Assembly ridings. Except for areas of First Nations peoples, the "No" vote was concentrated in urban ridings. The heavily populated western part of the Montreal island, home to a large anglophone population, overwhelmingly voted "No". The far North, the Outaouais, and the Eastern Townships also voted "No". Quebec City's surprisingly soft support for "Yes" is generally seen to have been the largest disappointment for the sovereignist side, with speculation that provincial government officials did not want the uncertainty a "Yes" would bring.
Addressing a packed room of "Yes" supporters while live on television, Jacques Parizeau, referring to francophone Québécois as "nous, "blamed the result on "money and ethnic votes". Many criticized his comments, including within the PQ.
|Quebec referendum, 1995|
|Invalid or blank votes||86,501||1.82|
|Registered voters and turnout||5,087,009||93.52|
Contingency preparation for a "Yes" victory
In the event of a "Yes" victory, Parizeau had said he intended to return to the National Assembly of Quebec within two days of the result and seek support for the Sovereignty Bill, which had already been tabled. In a speech he had prepared in the event of a "Yes" victory, he said a sovereign Quebec's first move would be to "extend a hand to its Canadian neighbour" in partnership pursuant to the wording of the referendum. Parizeau said that he would expect to negotiate with the federal government immediately after a "Yes" vote. That negotiation failing, he would declare an independent Quebec.
On October 27, Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard's office sent a press release to all military bases in Quebec, calling for creation of a Quebec military and the beginning of a new defence staff in the event of Quebec's independence. Bouchard declared that Quebec would take possession of Canadian air force jet fighters based in the province.
Federalists, who had not been involved in drafting the referendum question, strongly differed on what margin of victory, or even if, a "Yes" referendum result would be recognized.
Chrétien's speech, drafted for the event of a "Yes" vote, stated that the question was too ambiguous to be binding and that only dissatisfaction with the status quo had been stated. "No" campaign head Daniel Johnson
Reform party leader Preston Manning, a proponent of direct democracy, would have recognized any result, with critics suspecting they preferred a "Yes" vote for electoral gain. Jean Charest recognized the referendum's legitimacy, although his post-referendum speech had him interpreting a "Yes" vote as a call for drastic reform of Canadian federation instead of separation. The New Democratic Party's official position was that the result had to be recognized.
Little planning was made for the possibility of a "Yes" vote by the Canadian federal government, with the general consensus being that the referendum would be easily won and that planning would spark panic or give the referendum undeserved legitimacy. Some members of the federal cabinet met to discuss several possible scenarios, including referring the issue of Quebec's independence to the Supreme Court. Senior civil servants met to consider the impact of a vote for secession on issues such as territorial boundaries and the federal debt.
Jean Chrétien and many prominent members of Cabinet had been elected in a Quebec ridings, leading to some doubt that they could represent Canada at a hypothetical partnership negotiation, or that Chrétien would be able to assure the Governor General that he retained enough support within his party to remain the Prime Minister of Canada. Reform leader Preston Manning intended, if the referendum was successful, to immediately call for Chrétien's resignation and for a general election.
Even if Québec seats were not considered, the Liberals would have retained a sizable majority in the House of Commons.  Frank McKenna later confirmed that he had been invited into a hypothetical "National Unity" cabinet if the "Yes" side was victorious, with general a general understanding that Bob Rae was to be included as well.
The Minister of National Defence David Collenette made preparations to increase security at some federal institutions. He also ordered the military's CF-18 aircraft out of Quebec, to prevent them from being used as pawns in any negotiations.
When the counting was completed, approximately 86,000 ballots were rejected by Deputy Returning Officers, alleging that they had not been marked properly by the voter. Each polling station featured a Deputy Returning Officer (appointed by the "Yes") counted the ballots while a Poll Clerk (appointed by the "No") recorded the result of the count.
Controversy arose over whether the Deputy Returning Officers of the Chomedey, Marguerite-Bourgeois and Laurier-Dorion ridings had improperly rejected ballots. In these ridings the "No" vote was dominant, and the proportion of rejected ballots was 12%, 5.5% and 3.6%. Thomas Mulcair, member of the Quebec National Assembly for Chomedey, told reporters that there was "an orchestrated attempt to steal the vote" in his riding. A study released months after the referendum by [McGill University]] sociologist Maurice Pinard, statistician Janusz Kaczorowski and lawyer Andrew Orkin, concluded that ridings with a greater amount of "No" votes had a higher percentage of rejected ballots.
After the referendum, the Directeur général des élections du Québec (DGEQ), Pierre F. Cote, launched an inquiry into the alleged irregularities. Under the supervision of Alan B. Gold, Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court, all ballots of the three ridings plus a sample of ballots from 34 other ridings were examined. The inquiry concluded that some ballots had been rejected without valid reasons, but the incidents were isolated. The majority of the rejected ballots were "No" votes, in proportion to the majority of the valid votes in those districts. Two Deputy Returning Officers were charged by the DGEQ with violating elections laws, but in 1996 were found not guilty (a decision upheld by the Quebec Court of Appeal), after it was found that the ballots were not rejected in a fraudulent or irregular manner, and that there was no proof of conspiracy. A Quebec Court judge acquitted a Deputy Returning Officer charged with illegally rejecting 53% of the ballots cast at his Chomedey polling district. "No" supporters criticized the report, especially with regard to Pierre F. Cote's claim that the alleged illegal spending in organizing the Unity Rally was more of a threat to the democratic process than what he termed as "31 people wrongly rejecting ballots". In July 1996, the Montreal Gazette was denied access to the rejected ballots.
In 2000, Alliance Quebec lost a lawsuit that attempted force the DGEQ to give access to review all 5 million ballots cast. The court ruled that only panel called the Conseil du referendum had the power under the Referendum Act to examine the ballots and that the panel expired in 1996. Alliance Quebec's appeal was stayed in 2008 and the referendum ballots were incinerated.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Citizenship Court judges from across Canada were sent into the province to work overtime to ensure as many qualified immigrants living in Quebec as possible had Canadian citizenship before the referendum, and thus were able to vote. The goal was to have 10,000 to 20,000 outstanding citizenship applications processed for residents of Quebec by mid-October.  Statistics compiled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that some 43,855 new Quebecers obtained their Canadian citizenship during 1995. About one quarter of these (11,429) were granted their citizenship during the month of October. The data also shows an increase in certificate issuances by 87% between 1993 and 1995. The year 1996 saw a drop of 39%.
When confronted about the issue by a Bloc Québécois MP who suggested shortcuts were being taken to hurry citizenship applications for immigrants who would most likely vote "No", Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Sergio Marchi responded that this was common before provincial election campaigns in other provinces. When further pressed about the issue, he pointed out that the Bloc had "criticized [Ottawa] in the past for moving too slowly on the applications. Now they are saying we are moving too fast."
Following a ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada issued on October 17, 1997 (Libman vs. Quebec-Attorney General), sections of the Referendum Act restricting third-party expenditures were judged unconstitutionally restrictive pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Canadian Unity Council and Option Canada
The Canadian Unity Council, incorporated a Monteral-based lobbying group called Option Canada with the mandate to promote federalism in Quebec. Option Canada received $1.6 million in funding from the Canadian Heritage Department in 1994, $3.35 million in 1995 and $1.1 million in 1996. The Montreal Gazette reported in March 1997 that the group also had other funds from undeclared sources. A Committee to Register Voters Outside Quebec was created to help citizens who had left Quebec before the 1995 vote register on the electoral list The Committee handed out pamphlets during the referendum, including a form to be added to the list of voters. The pamphlet gave out a toll-free number as contact information, which was the same number as the one used by the Canadian Unity Council.
After the referendum, the DSEQ, filed 20 criminal charges of illegal expenditures by Option Canada and others on behalf of the "No" side, which were dropped after the Libman ruling struck the provisions of the Referendum Act.
The DSEQ asked retired Quebec court judge Bernard Grenier in 2006 to investigate Option Canada after the publishing of Normand Lester and Robin Philpot's "The Secrets of Option Canada", which alleged over $5,000,000 had been spent helping the "No" campaign.  Grenier determined that C$539,000 was illegally spent by the "No" side during the referendum, although he drew no conclusions over the "Unity Rally" specifically. Grenier said there was no foregone evidence that the rally was part of a greater plan to sabotage the sovereigntist movement. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who was then vice-president of the "No" committee, was cleared of any wrongdoing by Grenier. Grenier urged Quebecers in his report to move on, saying "I think it's now time to move forward, to move ahead". The Bloc Québécois called for a federal inquiry, which did not occur. 
Unity Rally Investigations
Aurèle Gervais, communications director for the Liberal Party of Canada, as well as the students' association at Ottawa's Algonquin College, were charged with infractions of Quebec's Election Act after the referendum for illegally hiring buses to bring supporters to Montreal for the rally. Environment Minister Sergio Marchi told reporters "Mr. Gervais, on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada, should wear [the charges against him] like a badge of honor." Two years later, the Quebec Superior Court dismissed the charges, stating that the actions took place outside of Quebec and so the Quebec Election Act did not apply.
After the referendum, the ballot for Quebec elections was redesigned to reduce the size of the space where voters could indicate their choice and the rules on allowable markings were relaxed, so that Deputy Returning Officers would have fewer grounds for rejecting ballots. The Quebec government also changed the Electoral Act so that voters would need to show a Canadian passport, Quebec drivers' license or RAMQ card at the polling station for identification purposes in future elections.
The day after the referendum, Jacques Parizeau resigned as the leader of the Parti Québécois, as he had said he would do in an interview with TVA taped days before the referendum but not made public until after the vote. Lucien Bouchard was the only candidate to succeed him. Bouchard became Premier on January 29, 1996. Over the course of the next few years, support for sovereignty decreased. Despite winning reelection in 1998, the PQ chose not to hold another referendum, waiting for "winning conditions". The PQ would lose the 2003 provincial election to the Quebec Liberal Party, led by Jean Charest.
The Clarity Act
Before the referendum, federalists promised reform of the federal system to be more accommodating to Quebec's concerns. After the referendum, reforms were made, such as a federal law requiring the approval of the regions (including Quebec) to amend the constitution. The federal government also pursued what Chrétien called "Plan B", to try to convince voters that economic and legal obstacles would follow if Quebec were to declare itself sovereign. This culminated in the federal government's 2000 Clarity Act which stated that any future referendum would have to be on a "clear question" and that it would have to represent a "clear majority" for the federal Parliament to recognize its validity. The meaning of both a "clear question" and a "clear majority" are left unspecified in the act.
Following the narrow victory, the Chrétien government established a pro-Canada advertising campaign. The aim was to sponsor hunting, fishing and other recreational events, and in doing so promote Canada within Quebec. While many of the events sponsored were legitimate, a large sum of money was mismanaged. Auditor General Sheila Fraser released a report in November 2003, outlining the problems. This eventually led to the Gomery Commission's investigation of the Sponsorship Scandal. Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe argued that Canada was trying to "buy" federalism and using it as an excuse to channel dirty money into Liberal-friendly pockets. This scandal's extensive coverage in Quebec contributed support to the sovereignty movement.
- Quebec referendum, 1980
- Quebec sovereignty movement
- Quebec federalist ideology
- Quebec nationalism
- National Question (Quebec)
- Politics of Quebec
- History of Quebec
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- ^Referendum Act (Quebec), R.S.Q. c.C-64.1, App. 2, S. 310
- Gray, John. "Be strict, PQ told scrutineers 'Following the rules' in Chomedey meant 1 ballot in 9 rejected, mostly votes for No". The Globe and Mail. November 10, 1995.
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-  [The Gazette. Montreal, Que.: April 5, 1997. p. B4]
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