Joseph MacSween, “Bourassa ready to wrestle with Trudeau over culture”, Ottawa Citizen (26 April 1975)

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Date: 1975-04-26
By: Ottawa Citizen
Citation: Joseph MacSween, “Bourassa ready to wrestle with Trudeau over culture”, Ottawa Citizen (26 April 1975).
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Ottawa Citizen
Apr. 26/75

Bourassa ready to wrestle
with Trudeau over culture

By Joseph MacSween
Canadian Press staff writer

MONTREAL — Premier Robert Bourassa indicated Friday he is ready to battle Prime Minister Trudeau over the cultural powers required by Quebec to maintain its French-Canadian culture.

Differences in federal concepts between the Liberal premier and the Liberal prime minister — both Montreals — came up when Mr. Bourassa appeared on a CJAD radio hotline show.

On another question, Mr. Bourassa pledged he will act “very quickly” on the forthcoming recommendations of Judge Robert Cliche, who headed an inquiry into union freedoms in the violence-wracked construction industry.

I might have a big fight with some unions,” he said. “It might be a war with some unions, but I am ready to make war to cure that situation.

The premier said the 1976 Olympics to be held in Montreal and other factors hold out the prospect of boom conditions in the construction industry despite the present widespread economic recession. Mr. Bourassa’s federal comments came when Neil McKenty, CJAD public affairs commentator, referred on the English-language program to a recent visit by Mr. Trudeau. The prime minister had flatly rejected a Bourassa concept of Quebec in a Canadian common market.

Replying, Mr. Bourassa said Canada is, in fact, a common market and more so because it has a federal parliament in addition to such things as capital and manpower mobility.

“Culturally, I don’t agree with Prime Minister Trudeau,” the premier added.

“Even if the situation now for French-Canadians within Canada is good we have no guarantee that with the declining proportion of French-Canadians within Canada that the situation will be like that in 10 years.”

French-Canadians have enjoyed a “strong presence in Ottawa ever since the late Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson took power in 1963 but the population ratio is changing to the disadvantage of French Quebec.

“Nobody can accuse me of starting quarrels with Ottawa for nothing,” Mr. Bourassa declared. “When I don’t agree with Ottawa it is over matters essential to Quebec.”

“I feel we should have more responsibility in the field of culture. We are the only French-speaking government in North America and we should have cultural sovereignty or cultural security.”

This fell somewhat short of breaking up the country because culture accounts for only about two per cent of the federal budget.

Mr. Bourassa cited communications and immigration as sectors in which Quebec wished to exert greater power, adding that federal-provincial collaboration now was satisfactory in immigration discussions.

Answering repeated questions he said there is no plan to regulate immigration from other provinces to Quebec.

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