British Journal of Canadian Studies

Referendum Rhetoric and Nationalist Mobilisation: A Comparison of the 1980 and 1995 Quebec Referenda

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2005), 18, (1), 93–119.

Abstract

This article examines the impact of changes in the international environment on the nationalist discourse in Quebec by focusing on the 35 hours of formal debate in the National Assembly on both the 1980 and 1995 referendum questions. It was hypothesised that changes in the international political economy, namely increasing globalisation and the advent of the Canada-US FTA followed by the NAFTA, would produce a noticeable shift in the types of arguments employed by the indépendantiste MNAS in the 1995 referendum. The author concludes that there were some readily discernable differences in the pro-sovereignty rhetoric from one referendum to the next. Specifically, whereas the advocates of sovereignty in 1980 spent a significant amount of their allocated time on the defensive, both defending the viability of the project and criticising the federal government, in 1995, sovereignty was justified on the basis that it would enable the PQ government to both implement its projet de société and meet the economic challenges of the twenty-first century.

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Mau, Tim

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