In Canada, the government's feared confrontation with the French separatist government of the province of Quebec appeared closer on Thursday (28 April).
In Canada, the government's feared confrontation with the French separatist government of the province of Quebec appeared closer on Thursday (28 April). The Parti Quebecois government has just proposed a bill which will curtail the use of English in eduction, commerce and public life. The move has caused bitterness amongst English speaking Canadians -- but Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau will have to be careful that an attempt to thwart the bill does not provoke the french speaking majority within Quebec into a quick vote to break away from Canada. Quebec's Premier M. Rene Levesque has already declared that this is his party's ultimate goal.
The purpose of M. Morin's visit is believed to be to encourage France to invest in the province and to prepare for a visit by Quebec's Premier Rene Levesque later this year. The Parti Quebecois came to power in the province, when they won a large majority in election earlier this year.
SYNOPSIS: Quebec's english speaking minority of 20 per cent control 80 per cent of the commerce in the province.
Most of Quebec's labour force is French but few French Canadians are executives. The language law -- drafted by Culture Minister Camille Laurin -- would give every Quebecer the right to work only in French. M. Laurin says the law will make it easier for French speaking labourers to move into management.
But in Montreal, the business centre of the province, Mr. Bernard Finestone, an English speaking member of the board of trade, has already found that the proposed bill has caused problems.
MR. BERNARD FINESTONE: "We found a total slow down of the economy, postponement of investment and a considerable number of employee requests for transfer out of Quebec."
Meanwhile in France, Quebec's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Claude Morin began the first official visit to France by a member of the French speaking province's new separatist government. On Thursday M. Morin had an audience at the Elysee palace in Paris with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
Political relations between France and Quebec have been a matter of considerable interest since the late President Charles de Gaulle proclaimed "Vive le Quebec Libre" -- Long Live Free Quebec-during a visit to Montreal ten years ago. M. Morin said afterwards that President Giscard d'Estaing had questioned him closely on his separatist government's plans, especially for a referendum on independence.