It's October 30, 1995 and the referendum campaign is finally over, one month of arguments against and for sovereignty. They say campaigns should be a time to debate ideas. It rarely is and this one was no different. But these are complex issues to vulgarize and the fact that either camp hasn't been able to clearly demonstrate the advantages of its own option doesn't make things any simpler. Let's face it. If it were so clear that Québec would be better off on itself, the sovereignty movement would have made a clear demonstration. If Canada understood Québec's contribution to the country and what it brings in return, it wouldn't have to rely on such hollow symbols as the passport and currency to boast its appeal.
I voted "Yes". For a lot of people, that makes me a sovereigntist, or a separatist if you prefer (either word is acceptable, it simply indicates how one values the impact of an independent Québec). But labeling people isn't that simple. La Presse's André Pratte, for example, is a renowned federalist, but he voted "Yes" in both the 1980 and 1995 referendums. Other famous federalists such as Pierre Trudeau have considered Québec's sovereignty as an acceptable option in their younger days.
The opposite is also true; many sovereigntist leaders once believed in Québec's place within Canada. Before joining the Parti Québécois, Jacques Parizeau and René Lévesque had been actively involved with Québec's Liberal Party.
Regardless of their convictions, these four Québécois personalities have (or had) a rich perspective on whether or not Québec should become a sovereign state, something that the current debate (if any) lacks blatantly. For the most of it, current positions in both the federalist and the sovereigntist camps, sound like a binary equation, on or off, black or white, day or night, good or evil... you get the picture... can you hear Darth Vader's Theme? In all truthfulness, hardline federalists and hardline sovereigntists aren't listening and they pretty much sound the same. Each camp has its radicals, rednecks on one side and bluenecks on the other.
I don't understand this unconditional love that prevents people from considering the merits of their opponent's option. I mean... both of these options obviously have their cons and their pros. How can there be any dialog if you aren't willing to consider and properly respond to your opponent's arguments?
I voted "Yes" in 1995 because I believe sovereignty is a better alternative than the current status quo. Many people don't understand this "fair-weather" attitude. I simply think that the current federal model should be challenged, in return, I accept the idea that Québec's sovereignty isn't the Holy Grail. If you feel uncomfortable with this statement, well... perhaps you're part of the current trend that believes constitutional talks should take place only when pigs fly.
In the meantime, I'll be carefully listening to what Ottawa has to say.