YES or NO?
In October 1995, the Auditorium went down in history! Its name was mentioned in all provincial and national newspapers, and in some international ones. What happened for its name to go around the world this way? The reason was that the Auditorium welcomed supporters from the “Yes” and “No” camps just a few days away from the Québec sovereignty referendum on October 30, 1995.
On Tuesday, October 24, starting at 7 p.m., the arena welcomed thousands of the “No” camp supporters who arrived on dozens of buses and filled its stands to capacity. Placards and Canadian flags were hanging everywhere. A stage was set up to welcome Jean Chrétien, Canada’s Prime Minister; Daniel Johnson, the Leader of Québec’s Official Opposition; and Jean Charest, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, in addition to a number of provincial and federal liberal MPs. There was maximum security at the Auditorium. Never had it seen so many police officers inside and outside its walls. Police from the Communauté urbaine de Montréal, the Sûreté du Québec and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as the Auditorium’s own security, were all on guard to intervene, if necessary.
When the evening came to a close, the arena continued to teem with people. Dozens of employees were hard at work cleaning and preparing the premises for the next event, because a few hours later, it was the “Yes” supporters’ turn to cross the Auditorium’s doors and hold their rally.
On Wednesday, October 25, new flags hung on the structure of the building, but this time, it was mostly Québec flags. The “No” placards were replaced with “Yes” ones. That evening, it was Lucien Bouchard, Leader of the Bloc Québécois; Jacques Parizeau, Premier of Québec; Mario Dumont, Leader of the Action démocratique du Québec and a number of MPs who took the floor.
Watch this video clip of Jacques Parizeau’s speech at this rally in the Auditorium:
View this video with a transcription: “The Evening of October 25, 1995”
Listen also to what Verdun resident and former politician Jean-Marie Lacoste has to say about his memories of that evening:
View this video with a transcription: “Recollections of October 25, 1995 at the Verdun Auditorium”
Those two evenings went down in Québec history, but also in the history of the Auditorium. Never had it so intensely witnessed such patriotic pride, whether Québécois or Canadian.