UCL Institute of the Americas


The UCL Canadian Studies Lecture: Sir Nicholas Bayne: Lessons from the Quebec Referendum of 1995

02 July 2015, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

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In 1995 the people of Quebec voted only by the narrowest of margins not to separate from Canada. Yet Canada remains united twenty years later. The lecture examines how the referendum happened, as the third in a series, and why it has not been repeated. The lecturer draws on his experience as British High Commissioner to Canada in 1992-1996.

Quebec's story provides some cautionary lessons for the United Kingdom, as it prepares for a referendum on the European Union and expects to face another one on Scotland. It also offers some hope for those who want both these unions to survive intact.

Sir Nicholas Bayne KCMG was a British diplomat for 35 years. He served as Ambassador in Kinshasa, UK Representative to the OECD and Economic Director General at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was British High Commissioner to Canada from 1992 to 1996.

He now teaches a graduate course on Economic Diplomacy in the International Relations Department of the LSE. He is the author, with Stephen Woolcock, of The New Economic Diplomacy (third edition 2011). He has also written three books on the G7/G8 summit (Hanging Together, with Robert Putnam, 1987; Hanging In There, 2000; Staying Together, 2005) and a volume of memoirs (Economic Diplomat, 2010).