WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 -- The Clinton administration Monday maintained its policy of prodding Quebec voters to remain in Canada while insisting it did not want to interfere in the internal affairs of a foreign country. 'The president made quite clear, as he addressed these matters, that he recognized that this is an internal matter that must be decided by the Canadian people,' said White House spokesman Mike McCurry. 'But nonetheless,' McCurry said, 'the president does have strong views on the important relationship that exists between the United States and a united Canada, and felt it was important for him to set those forth.' Vote-counting in Quebec began Monday night. McCurry said some state governments along the Canadian border were worried that a decision by Quebec to secede from Canada could significantly harm cross-border trade. At the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the United States could learn a lesson from French-speaking Quebec. 'It is a very clear reminder that people (in the U.S.) who are capriciously for bilingualism need to recognize that there are long-term dangers to the fabric of our society,' Gingrich said. 'We are a remarkable country because we are open to everyone from everywhere...but our binding element has been historically the English language and we should reassert English as the language of this country, ' he said. 'The tension we are seeing in Canada now is a warning signal to us,' Gingrich said. In Canada, Quebec Parliament member Patrick Gagnon reacted angrily to Gingrich's comments.
'This campaign was not about language, it was about culture,' said Gagnon, who was the only pro-Canada member of Parliament elected in all of eastern Quebec. 'The separatists have been pointing to the move to the political- right in English North America and saying, 'See, the English don't share our values,' and frankly, with vocal people like Gingrich, it's been hard to prove otherwise.' Gagnon agreed with Gingrich that the Quebec vote should be a warning, but said it should be a warning about white-English-male agendas being pursued by the political right in North America.