By Carmen Desmeules (translated by Emilie Gosselin)
July 25 1967
There was a lot of buzz around the French President’s visit to Quebec. “Long Live Free Quebec” itself is it’s own page in history. But do you know the rest of the story? The story of his controversial visit to Expo 67?
First, it is important to mention that the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments were the principal funders of the 1967 Universal Exhibition in Montreal. As such, the three levels of government would receive the Heads of State appropriately and according to protocol. But how did they receive Charles de Gaulle?
Following de Gaulle’s famous speech, where he declared “Long Live Free Quebec!” the federal government, shocked, canceled the ceremony in honor of the French President and his visit to Ottawa.
Despite the Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s order to do the same on the site of Man and His World, the directors of Expo received the president with the highest honors.
Yves Jasmin, Director of Information, Advertising and Public Relations at Expo, recalls this dramatic day: “They were telling us: You can’t welcome him like that, after what he’s said! And I replied: We can and we will. End of story!”
“The day after his speech at the City Hall, General de Gaulle came to Expo and was welcomed by a wild crowd. He visited the French Pavilion. That political altercation didn’t change much for us. General de Gaulle was an impressive man!” And Jasmin, faithful to the mission set by “Les Durs”, the directors of Expo, adds: “We had no reason to give in to political authorities. Expo 67 was our show!”
Source : Interviews with Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien and Yves Jasmin, July 2016