Jacques Parizeau’s famous defeat speech

May 27, 2003

The Globe and Mail

Parizeau’s speech to “Oui” supporters after their humiliating defeat on October 30, 1995.

Friends, we have lost, but not by a lot. It was successful in one sense. Let’s stop talking about the francophones of Quebec. Let’s talk about us. Sixty per cent of us have voted in favour.

We fought a good battle and we did manage to clearly show what we wanted. We lost by a tiny margin. What do you do? Well, you roll up your sleeves and you begin all over again.

I would have liked for it to go through. I would really have loved for it to go through. We were so close to having our country. Well, it’s just put off for a short while, not for a long time.

We won’t wait another 15 years this time, oh no. What has happened is wonderful. In one meeting after another, these people who had said the future of our country isn’t that important were coming along and saying we want that country of our own. And we will get it. We will end up with our country.

It’s true we have been defeated, but basically by what? By money and the ethnic vote.

All it means is that in the next round, instead of us being 60 or 61 per cent in favour, we’ll be 63 or 64 per cent. My friends, at this point in the coming months . . . there were people who were so afraid that the temptation to seek revenge is going to be great.

Never will it be so important to have a Parti Quebecois government to protect us till the next round.

The independence of Quebec remains the cement that binds us. We want a country and we shall have it. Now, my friends, we are entering another stage during which each and every one of us will want to put our fists on the table not to mention anything else, but let’s stay calm.

Let us resist any provocation. As the Prime Minister of Canada was saying a few days ago, we’re going to really have to work through this. Let us be calm, let us smile. The next round is just around our corner and we are going to have our country.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you younger people out there voted in the immense majority in favour of a country. But now I’m talking to battle veterans, people of my own age who have been seeking a country for years and years, and I’m telling you don’t be discouraged. The young people are just starting in the battle, it’s just a slight setback, they’re going to be successful in the long run.

But you veterans remain in the fray because we need all of you.

In the coming days people are going to speak out against us, they will say we don’t know what we want, it is just the way it always was. But it is not. Don’t forget that three-fifths of us voted yes. It wasn’t quite enough but very soon it will be enough.

Our country is within our grasp. Be calm. Be smiling even if that doesn’t come easily, and bear in mind that from this solidarity among people from the right and the left, the solidarity among people from the union movement and the bosses, the unemployed and those who have jobs, altogether.

Here in Quebec we are not going to sacrifice ourselves in that movement to the right that the rest of Canada is taking. We are going to demonstrate that we are able, even if we don’t have a country as yet, that we will raise a French society that has its heart in the right place, and in the long run, finally, we will have our own revenge and we will have our own country.

Long live hope, long live Quebec.

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