Volume 91, Issue 17

Thursday, September 25, 1997

sacre bleu


Attentive crowd hears Parizeau out

COMMUNITY AND UNITY. Former Parti Quebecois leader Jacques Parizeau [above] addresses questions last night. Below, Parizeau and USC president Ryan Parks square off at The Wave over whether they will pay by separate cheques.
All photos by Geoff Robins/Gazette

By Brendan Howe and Jamie Lynn
Gazette Staff

Canadian flags littered the McKellar Room in the University Community Centre last night as former Parti Quebecois leader Jacques Parizeau took the stage to address the much debated separatism issue to a capacity crowd.

Speaking for an hour, Parizeau went through the history of the separatist fight to an attentive, calm crowd and then answered questions. The event, organized by the University Students' Council, was sold-out well in advance and was standing room only by the time the speech began.

"This is an opportunity for me to help understanding. It's the most useful thing I can attempt to do." Parizeau said. He added he was not there to sell membership cards in the Bloc Quebecois.

Throughout his speech Parizeau made several comments about the recent premiers' conference in Calgary, saying he still has not fully recovered after the premiers decided to label Quebec as unique. He also emphasized in his speech that Quebec and the rest of Canada will always be neighbours no matter what happens.

USC President Ryan Parks moderated the question-and-answer period afterward and said he thought the event was worthwhile and was pleased with how it went. "I was very happy with how much respect the audience gave the speaker," he said.

One student did cause some unrest. Second-year honours political science student and Toronto native Nadeem Dhalla attempted to bring a large Canadian flag into the event but was refused at the door by USC event staff.

"I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to take in with me. I just want to have it with me," Dhalla said. He believed that because he was a Canadian citizen and a student at Western he should be able to take the flag in with him.

Bob Klanac, marketing and services manager of the USC and organizer of the event, said the flag was large enough that it could disrupt someone's view. USC event staff only allowed people to bring small flags into the room.

In the question period third-year political science student Paul Orovan from Ancaster, Ontario asked Parizeau if he thought a more progressive, constitutional approach could be taken.

"If you only knew how much people my age have tried that," Parizeau said. "I used to be a federalist." He added he is now 67-years-old.

Orovan said he thinks Parizeau is an intelligent person. "He showed tremendous conviction and that's commendable. It's nice to see a politician with honesty and integrity," he said.

"What kind of democratic movement says 'we will keep having referendums until we win?'" asked third-year administrative and commercial studies student Nawaz Tahir from London.

Parizeau compared this to his experience running for government. Both first and second attempts he was defeated but the third time he won. Parizeau said trying again and again is the essence of the democratic process.

Parks said he thinks Western is lucky to have booked Parizeau to speak because he is only visiting three universities in his trip around Ontario. He spoke at McMaster Tuesday and plans to speak in Guelph today.

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997