An Ottawa native and the son of a French Canadian mother, Dan Aykroyd is very familiar with the relationship between Québec and the rest of the country. As a young adult he often came to Montréal where he actually got his first acting gig. He was there on November 15th, 1976, when René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois came to power. Here are his impressions on the event, as reported in today's La Presse [Google translation]:
"My friends and I were at the victory's parade. It was a very vibrant evening, but we had mixed feelings. We know how proud Quebeckers are of their culture, but as Canadians from Ottawa, we were worried because Quebec holds an important place in our hearts."
On June 17th, 1994, Aykroyd received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree at Carleton University. The comic actor, writer and director made a passionate pitch for National Unity, a plea for tolerance for all Canadians, as reported by the Canadian Press the following day:
"I have a great love for the French Canadian people. It's an issue that is very divisive and burning on people's minds and I just want to say formally that I love Quebeckers." Aykroyd told graduates he has heard a "lot of rancor and tremendous hostility" directed at Québec and its people, especially in Western Canada. But it's also an issue in the Eastern Ontario town where he maintains a home. "That's exactly the kind of discrimination, racism and supremacism that we've got to avoid in the world if we're going to change things."
Aykroyd called for "a sane and just solution - whatever that is" in the event Quebec opts for separation. "If the majority of Quebeckers vote to go, what are we going to do? Send in the army? Of course not. We're going to help them with their ship of state. It's a democratic process. Let them decide for themselves. But unless and until Quebeckers vote to separate, Canadians should encourage them to "continue in nationhood with Canada, albeit with the proper recognition that their rich and highly contributive culture deserves."