France assured Quebec of its support on Thursday (3 November), but refused to be drawn into the French-speaking Canadian province's struggle with the Federal Government in Ottowa over independence.
GV: Elysee palace
GV: Levesque arriving and entering Elysee
GV: band playing
SV: French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing shakes hands with Levesque as he leaves palace.
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Background: France assured Quebec of its support on Thursday (3 November), but refused to be drawn into the French-speaking Canadian province's struggle with the Federal Government in Ottowa over independence.
SYNOPSIS: Quebec's separatist Premier, Rene Levesque was in Paris on a three-day official visit, canvassing support for his campaign to make his province independent from the rest of Canada. The French President, Valery Giscard D'Estaing, held a luncheon in honour of the visiting Premier. He said Monsieur, Levesque could rely on Franco's brotherly support for his cause, but it was not up to the French Government to interfere -- that would not be in keeping with the Premier's dignity.
The French welcome for Monsieur Levesque has been very warm -- too warm for the liking of Canadian diploma in Paris, who have voiced irritation at France's award of one of its highest decorations to the Quebec Premier. The French President had made Monsieur Levesque a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour -- one grade down from the grand Cross, which is awarded only to heads of state.
But France continued to fete Monsieur Levesque. He was invited to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Canadian Embassy denied reports that the Ambassador has made an official protest about the award, but said it would shortly be explaining to the French Government Canada's regulations on foreign decorations awarded to Canadian citizens. Canadians are not allowed to accept them without permission from the Federal Government -- and this is rarely granted.
Monsieur Levesque said he felt deeply that the French President had followed the province's evolution with a great deal of attention -- and knew exactly where Quebec was heading. He said he had accepted the award for the whole of Quebec-not just for himself.