Quebec 1976

The Victory of the Parti Québécois

Source: Francois Brousseau, La Voix de René Levesque. Fides, Montreal 2002;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

On November 15, 1976, on its third attempt, the Parti Québécois won the provincial elections with more than 41% of the vote. For the first time a party whose program called for independence for Quebec was in power. René Levesque, the party’s founder, was as surprised as anyone by the results, and delivered his victory speech.

I don’t think I have to tell you just how unable I am, at this moment, to make any commentary on the extraordinary sign of confidence that was hoped for...I have to frankly say to you that we hoped for this with all our hearts... but we didn’t expect it to come like this this year. I never thought I could be as proud to be Québécois as I am this evening.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all Québécois, in every corner of Quebec, who weren’t afraid of the changes needed by Quebec. I would also like to thank and congratulate, in all corners of the country, all those who for the last ten years...thousands of them...and even more in the last month, who worked so hard, in a superhuman way, to bring about this result that had come about, think about it, in ten years. This is so quickly in the life of a people. We aren’t a small people; we are perhaps something like a great people.

And I'd also like to say that my colleagues here, like me, we're conscious of the enormous weight that the confidence of the Québécois have just placed on our shoulders. There is no one who isn’t conscious of the fact that there isn’t a man, there isn’t a group that can bear it without making mistakes. All we can promise you, and I promise you and we all promise you from the bottom of our hearts, that we're going to carry that weight with all the energy, all the honesty and all the enthusiasm that we can bring to it. And we're going to do it, and I renew in the name of everyone this evening, that we are going to keep as best we can every single one of the commitments that we have made. I won’t repeat them this evening, but we won’t forget a single one. In particular, I repeat that central commitment, which doesn’t at all change the fact that from the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of all of our hearts, we hope, in friendship with our fellow citizens of Canada, to succeed in giving ourselves the country that is Quebec. But this country of Quebec will only arrive when an adult society, conscious of itself, will have approved it with a clear and democratic majority, in a referendum, as we promised.

A little while ago I heard Monsieur Bourasssa who generously congratulated us and who issued a statement extremely appropriate and courageous on an evening like this one. I know what this is like... I lived it also... losing. I know what this is like and I'd like to congratulate him for the way he took it as he demonstrated a little while ago.

I'd like to thank all the elected members of the party who we won’t see tonight, but we'll see them in the next few days. I'd also like to warmly thank all those who — often just barely — didn’t win their counties. We'll meet again with them, too. From a personal point of view I'd like to say to them, and it’s perhaps a consolation, that this happens one, twice, but not necessarily three times.

If you will allow me, I'd like to very calmly, very sincerely say to our adversaries in Quebec, to our adversaries and to those here, there, who might have feared the results of a victory by the Parti Québécois, that we want and we will work with all our strength to make of Quebec a country that will more than ever be the country of all Québécois who live there and love it.

And once again, I don’t know how to thank the voters for the confidence and the responsibility that they granted this evening. In my humble opinion, I don’t know how to evaluate it, but I'm sure that politically, this is nearly the most beautiful and perhaps the greatest evening in the history of Quebec.