Ten Years Later
When Judge Gomery decided to issue the first half of his report today, I wonder if he was aware that he would be dropping it almost exactly 10 years after the 1995 referendum? Certainly, it's a coup for the separatist forces, because the two have been linked -- Gomery-referendum, referendum-Gomery -- over and over in the media all weekend.
I was in Montreal over the weekend and went over to my grandmother's yesterday to help her change her clocks. In a basket next to her desk, she had a stack of People magazines, recent clippings of mine from the Post, and, I found looking through it, a copy of the front page of The Gazette from the day after the huge No rally in Place du Canada. I took a good look at the picture of the giant flag above the fold (and the Paul Wells column below, continued on some long-lost A11) and found it touching that one of the very few items my grandmother had kept when moving from her NDG house to her two rooms in a Cote-St-Luc home was this.
I was one of those tiny heads in the picture, as were most of the students from my Anglo high school. I've been trying to recall the feeling that day -- which many have been waxing nostalgic about of late -- but for some reason I remember a hundred things better from 1995 than I do that historic rally. I remember a friend of mine complaining that the man behind her had rubbed up against her, but that's about it...
I was at a Halloween party with many of these people I attended the rally with on Saturday night and the topic didn't come up once. Meanwhile, the young sovereigntists I know were off fete-ing the tenth anniversary with a concert Un nouveau pays pour le monde.
Why is it that though the No side won, by however slim a margin, we seem more afraid to talk about that time than the Yes side? They talk referendum all the time and have concerts to celebrate losing!
On October 27, 1995, 60,000 people crowded into that square to say Quebec was an important and integral part of Canada. But since waking up October 31, 1995, we've tried to pretend like there wasn't a problem, that nearly half of Quebecers didn't give a vote of non-confidence in the country.
I understand. I personally like to ignore problems until I can't, clean the dishes only when I run out of spoons. While the separatist movement was demoralized, it wasn't a big issue. But they hit rock bottom four years ago and have been on the rebound ever since so we should wake up. Let's not again wait until three days before the divorce papers are about to be signed to say, "Hey, let's talk about this. We've got a good thing going here. Let's not take it for granted. I love you."