Relations between Canada and Quebec have never been easy. Beginning with the Conquest and working through the many political permutations before Confederation and since, there has always been conflict between the two governments and, in particular, between two points of view. The rebellions of 1837-8, conscription, the Quiet Revolution, language laws, the FLQ crisis and endless constitutional wrangles such as Meech Lake are just a sampling of the issues that have divided the nation. The cast of characters has been fascinating, too: Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Robert Bourassa, and Rene Levesque have all played centre stage. In the wake of a razor-thin majority for federalist forces in the referendum of 1995, the issue of separation continues to be complicated by the division of the huge national debt, the possibility of further territorial partition within a separate Quebec, the rights of First Nations people, and the spectre of separatist movements in Eastern Europe in recent years.
Through interviews with a wide variety of politicians, journalists, and academics, Robert Bothwell skilfully weaves together a coherent account of the relationship between Canada and Quebec. We hear from Jean Chretien, Sharon Carstairs and Ovide Mercredi; Lise Bissonnette and Graham Fraser; Michael Bliss and Ramsay Cook; and many more. The text is an absorbing collage of personal accounts and considered opinions, one that acquaints us with the many different facets of this complicated yet crucial question: how did Canada and Quebec get to this impasse, and where do we go from here?