Charles de Gaulle, then France's President, gives a barely disguised pro-Quebec liberation speech and shouts "Vive le Québec libre!" (Long live Free Québec!) to a crowd in Montreal, setting off a media frenzy, outrage from most Canadians, frenzied delight from supporters of Quebec Separatism, and a major diplomatic incident.
"It is a great emotion that fills my heart to see before me the French city of Montréal!
In the name of the old country, in the name of France, I salute you! I salute you with all my heart!
I would tell you a secret that you cannot repeat. Here this evening, and all the length of my trip, I found myself in the same sense of atmosphere as the Liberation! And all the length of my trip, in addition, I have noticed what immense efforts of progress, of development, and consequently of empowerment that you have accomplished here, and that it is to Montréal that I must give this statement, because, if there is a city in the world exemplary of modern success, it is yours! I say it is yours, and I permit myself to say, it is ours!
If you knew what confidence France, waking up after immense troubles, now carries for you, if you knew what affection she has started to feel again for the Frenchmen of Canada, and if you knew to what point she feels obliged to further your march that is before you, to your progress.
It's why she has finalised with the Government of Quebec, with my friend Johnson here, the agreements for which the French on this side and the other of the Atlantic can work together towards the same French undertaking. And, of course, the aid that France brings here, each day a little more, she knows well that you will reciprocate because you are building the best factories, enterprises, laboratories, which will be an astonishment for all, and which, one day, I know you will allow to aid France.
This is what I have come this evening to say, and that I will bring back from this unforgettable Montréal reunion, an unforgettable souvenir! The entirety of France knows, sees, hears that which is happening here, and I would tell you, she is better for it!
Long live Montreal!
Long live Quebec!
Long live free Quebec!
Long live, long live... long live French Canada!
And long live France!"
Dateline October 18, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gives a speech at the Francophonie Summit in Quebec City which has Canadian officials singing his praises and many in the Sovereignty movement screaming bloody murder.
Sarkozy stressed that France has a special relationship with Quebec based on 400 years of history. "I first want to extend a fraternal greeting to all Quebecois," he said. "I say fraternal because history has made us, French and Quebecois, brothers, because you, Quebecois hold a special place in the hearts of the French." He ended his speech with a distant echo of General de Gaulle: "Long live the friendship between Canada and France, and long live the fraternity between the French people and the Quebecois people."
However, he spent much of his speech dealing with the international financial crisis and called for Quebec to join in an overhaul of the capitalist system. "We have to reintroduce into the economy ethics, principles of justice and a social and moral responsibility," he said.
Later, speaking at a press conference, Sarkozy said:
"I have always been a friend of Canada," he said."That has been a constant in my political life, because Canada has always been an ally of France, it is a member of the G8, and frankly, if there is someone who wants to say that the world today needs more division, it means we do not have the same reading of the world,"
Sarkozy also said that he doesn't see how love for Quebec "has to feed proof of defiance toward Canada."
What apparently has some Federalists (pro-Quebec sovereignty) upset was that, unlike de Gaulle, Sarkozy didn't intimate that if Quebec left Canada tomorrow France would be supporting them all the way. In fact, he downright supported a united Canada!
Sovereignists are divided on both the meaning and the import of what Sarkozy said.
Some, like former Parti Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard said it was "inspiring and beautiful", in the other hand, former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau described Sarkozy's remarks as an attack on the movement, a "very anti-sovereignist judgment of Quebec. It means, 'We don't agree with the sovereignty of Quebec.'"
While the night before, after Sarkozy's speech at the Legislature, she declared Sarkozy's words "music to my ears", PQ leader Pauline Marois was tight-lipped about Sarkozy's statement at the press conference. However, she is now telling reporters that "Mr. Sarkozy has perhaps misunderstood our project." "Did he want to talk about division owing to the financial crisis?" she asked. "Maybe he does not understand the Quebec people's sovereignty project, which, on the contrary, is a very inclusive project, open to the world and modern.
"People for decades around the world have given themselves countries, and I think Mr. Sarkozy rejoiced." Marois said that what was important during Sarkozy's visit was his speech in the National Assembly, where, she said, the president made a "solemn declaration" that he wants a privileged - one-on-one and equal - relationship with Quebec.
"In this sense, I think it is a very positive declaration that recognizes us".
Former PQ [Parti Quebecois] leader Bernard Landry demanded a clarification of Sarkozy's remarks (not that he is likely to get one)....
Dear me......"I hope the president of the republic expressed himself poorly and that it is not the way he actually thinks," Landry said. "If the president of the French republic came and interfered in our affairs and took a position against the independence of Quebec, well, then it is extremely serious.
"I hope this is not it. This same president of the French republic greeted - and enthusiastically is the least you can say - the independence of Kosovo and he recognized that of Montenegro. If he loves us, let us go toward our destiny.
"It is not up to France to decide - it's Quebec." Landry said he hopes Sarkozy didn't violate the traditional French policy of non-interference toward Quebec, and said "the burden of proof" rests on his shoulders."