Sovereigntists rally in Montreal on referendum anniversary

Hundreds of sovereignty supporters rallied at Place du Canada Saturday on the eve of the 16th anniversary of the last referendum. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Montreal Saturday renewing the call for a sovereign nation on the anniversary of the failed 1995 referendum.

The rally, organized by the Cap sur l’indépendance network, was meant as a show of solidarity.

It started at 1:30 p.m. ET at Place du Canada on René-Lévesque Boulevard, which the group re-baptized Place de l’indépendance.

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois was on hand, thanking supporters and re-emphasizing the importance of rallying together for an independent Quebec.

With the Fleurdelisé and patriot flags waiving, the group then marched up Ste-Catherine Street onto St. Urbain and towards City Hall.

Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of the failed 1995 referendum that asked Quebecers if they agree the province should become sovereign nation.

The final result showed a thread-thin divide — 49.42 per cent voted 'Yes' while 50.58 per cent voted 'No.'

Sixteen years later, the sovereigntist movement is struggling with sagging public support and splintering among its own members.

The Bloc Québécois saw a significant number of seats lost to federalist parties in the 2011 election and the Parti Québécois has been plagued by in-fighting and party defections.

In August, a Leger Marketing poll found only a third of Quebecers would vote to separate if a referendum was called.

Several participants in Saturday’s rally said it’s time for the sovereigntist movement to come together again and focus on the main goal of an independent Quebec instead of internal bickering.

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