The Quebec-sovereignist juggernaut began with the creation of the Parti Québécois in 1968 and climaxed in the provincial referendum on sovereignty, held on October 30, 1995. On that extraordinary evening, Canadians from all walks of life, in every region of the country, sat glued to their television screens as polling results trickled in from across Quebec. Unlike the first referendum, in 1980, when the victory of the federalist No vote led by Pierre Trudeau was a foregone conclusion, the race in October 1995 was a dead heat. All evening, the returns pitched and rolled, and anxious Canadians pitched and rolled along with them. In the end, the No vote won by the narrowest of margins, 50.56% to 49.44%. This was no euphoric victory, no easy vindication of Sir John A.'s federalist dream. Never before had the country come face to face with its own imminent extinction.
In The Night Canada Stood Still, Robert Wright revisits the drama and intrigue that brought Quebecers and Canadians alike to that fateful watershed event.
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