Dan Aykroyd pitches passion for Quebec
Citing his mother's French-Canadian heritage, the comic actor, writer and director made a plea for tolerance for all Canadians.
"I have a great love for the French-Canadian people. It's an issue that is very divisive and burning on people's minds and I just want to say formally that I love Quebeckers."
Aykroyd told graduates he has heard a "lot of rancor and tremendous hostility" directed at Quebec and its people, especially in Western Canada. But it's also an issue in the Eastern Ontario town where he maintains a home.
"That's exactly the kind of discrimination, racism and supremacism that we've got to avoid in the world if we're going to change things."
Aykroyd called for "a sane and just solution - whatever that is" in the event Quebec opts for separation.
"If the majority of Quebeckers vote to go, what are we going to do? Send in the army? Of course not.
"We're going to help them with their ship of state. It's a democratic process. Let them decide for themselves."
But unless and until Quebeckers vote to separate, Canadians should encourage them to "continue in nationhood with Canada, albeit with the proper recognition that their rich and highly contributive culture deserves."
After leaving university, he joined the Second City comedy group in both Chicago and Toronto.