Articles by Charles Trueheart
TORONTO -- Four weeks after a strong pro-independence vote in Quebec nearly broke apart the Canadian federation, Prime Minister Jean Chretien has offered Quebec significant concessions, including recognition of the French-speaking province as a ""distinct society."" His proposals Monday effectively called the bluff of Quebec's separatist leaders, who now must either oppose measures they have favored in the past or accept Chretien's offer. The Chretien initiatives, which he said were undertaken ""in a spirit of partnership,"" also seem likely to raise objections in the rest of Canada. The proposals are direct responses to some of the concerns that separatists say drive them toward independence, but they also offer fewer changes than many Quebecers say they require to make them choose Canada over separation. Chretien's changes would not be enshrined in the Canadian constitution, as many Quebecers wish, but instead would be enacted by the House of Commons or by both houses of Parliament.