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Canadian Leader Shakes Up Cabinet, Focuses on Quebec Issue

April 22, 1991|Times Wire Services

OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, threatened by growing pressure for Quebec's independence and shrinking public support, shuffled senior Cabinet ministers Sunday.

The Conservative Party, in power since 1984, is mired in third place with 16% in opinion polls.

Mulroney gave new jobs to half of the Cabinet's 40 members of Parliament. In the most significant changes, he created a Cabinet "unity" committee and appointed External Affairs Minister Joe Clark as referee in constitutional squabbling over the future of French-speaking Quebec. Clark's new title is constitutional affairs minister.

"The constitutional issue is the most important one," Mulroney said. "We're preparing for reconciliation and nation-building. I have full confidence in our capacity to persevere, to prevail and to succeed in the question of national unity."

Quebec will hold a referendum on its sovereignty before 1993.

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