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Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney failed to reconcile Quebec with the rest of Canada.
The Parti Québécois (PQ) government under Jacques Parizeau called a referendum in October 1995 to decide
if the province would secede. While the federal government under Jean Chrétien barely
intervened, the fiery rhetoric of Lucien Bouchard brought the separatists close to
victory. Quebecers voted to stay in Canada by only 1 per cent. A massive late rally
of non-Quebec Canadians pleading with Quebecers to remain probably tipped the balance.
Bouchard, who succeeded Parizeau, never felt confident of winning another referendum.
Later the PQ lost ground as separatism ceased to appeal. In the EU referendum of 2016
the British government failed to learn from Canada’s experience. The Remain side campaigned
negatively rather than positively, and did not mobilize its supporters as well as
the Leave camp did. Canadian comparisons also remain relevant for Scotland.
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