MONTREAL — A Quebec nationalist group is accusing the City of Montreal of thwarting its plans to commemorate a now-iconic speech by former French president Charles de Gaulle.
The Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste says it wanted access to the balcony of city hall on July 24 to re-enact the moment when de Gaulle famously shouted "Vive le Quebec libre" in a 1967 speech.
Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry said he is disappointed the city refused the group's request to honour what he called a turning point in the province's independence movement and its history as a whole.
'A large part of humanity had never heard of Quebec'
Before the speech, "a large part of humanity had never heard of Quebec, nor of the Quebec question," Landry told a news conference Wednesday.
Landry, who is the group's honorary president, said he believes the city is making a mistake in not realizing how important the event was for Montreal as well.
The Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste intends to hold the event in front of city hall instead.
Current president Maxime Laporte says an actor portraying de Gaulle will make his entrance in an electric car — a nod to the former French president's interest in technology.
"The deplorable refusal of Montreal's mayor to give us access to the famous balcony on the evening of July 24 won't stop us from holding... a worthy commemoration for the benefit of all citizens," Laporte told the news conference.
The group is also planning to highlight the date by participating in other activities, including an exhibition, a book launch and a conference.
The City of Montreal is organizing its own week-long exhibit to mark the 50-year anniversary of the famous speech.
It's also planning to open the balcony to the public for 30-minute guided tours on July 24.
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