Oh no, here we go again: Quebec to separate by 2010 according to ex-premier Landry

October 2nd, 2004 | by ian |

Monsieur Landry recently brandished that age old tool of opportunistic Quebec politicians – the promise of sovereignty. This comes hot on the heels of reports that Landry’s leadership of the Parti Quebecois is faltering and that Quebec sovereignty is a lost cause with a new generation.

This situation called for bold moves, and Landry, no stranger to boldness of the sort that costs Quebec taxpayers ridiculous sums of money (take for example the Cite du Commerce Electronique project in Montreal), stepped up to the plate. Landry and other separatists believe that the time to rekindle the movement is coming soon thanks to an increasingly unpopular Liberal government. There has been talk by separatist forces since the 51% No 29% Yes result in 1995 that for another referedum on sovereignty to take place they must be certain of winning conditions.

The current Charest administration have been making tough budget cuts and policy changes resulting in, for example, the layoff of many of Quebec’s overly numerous and underproductive civil servants and scaling back some social services, perhaps setting the stage for a PQ win in the next election. While Charest’s government are making moves that are in the long term financial (if not social) interest of Quebec, Landry’s party will appeal to both the short-term public frustration with these cuts and the universal appeal of patriotic sentiment that has been so useful for George and the gang down south. Separatism is historically an appeal to the heart rather than reason, less than inclusive culturally, and gives less than serious regard for potential economic and social impact (which reminds me once again of the Bush administration). Therefore an issue that almost certainly needs to be addressed for Landry to succeed is that separatists have yet to produce a thorough analysis of the risk and uncertainty in a post separation Quebec. It may not be realistic to expect a balanced assessment but at least it would fuel more constructive debate.

Even though its hard to imagine Quebec as a nation separate from Canada, we don’t have to imagine the harsh effects of the separation movement on investment in Quebec which has stifled the potential of Montreal’s economy in the past 30 years and caused countless professionals to seek their fortunes down the 401 to Toronto and down the 15 to the USA…it is a shame that the politicians are interested in renewing this trend, while the population by and large seems to be trying to move on, and embrace a strong and culturally distinct Quebec as an integral member of the Canadian federation. For once the population of Quebec needs to hold the politicans accountable for the economic harm of their self serving agendas, certainly all evidence points to Quebec politicians suffering from at least the same level of cronyism and corruption seen in the Federal government lately. There is no good evidence that they would do a particularly good job of tending to the incredibly difficult task of leading a new nation through the social and economic difficulties that a separation would entail.

  1. One Response to “Oh no, here we go again: Quebec to separate by 2010 according to ex-premier Landry”

  2. By Anonymous on May 4, 2005 | Reply

    I agree and disagree in many ways to your statements. I agree that the idea of Quebec separatism may be potentially harmful to the Canadian federation. However, given the regionalism that this country has it doesn’t seem too farfetched. Many regions in this country can successfully separate and remain economical. Canada is made up of a very loose confederation of provinces that represent regions that may not necessarily be economically impacted by one another. A good example I have is Alberta. Decisions made in the United States affect Alberta’s economy much more than decisions made in Ottawa. If Western Canada separated we would be arguably more financially set than Eastern Canada. But what keeps us from going? The fact that we feel patriotism for this country. Quebec is a unique case because it’s that very real patriotism that has been established far before the English patriotism in Canada. Quebecois feel cheated, feel anglocized, and above all, feel that the English control their “country”. Those are understandable fears that I feel English speaking inhabitants across Canada don’t understand. Quebecois don’t generally feel contempt for Canada, but feel that they need to protect themselves from the 300 million English speaking inhabitants that surround them in the rest of Canada and the United States.

    I do agree with your statements that Quebec separatism is more of an emotional cry than a logical one. Quebec (I feel, although I’m no economist), would be in a fairly tough situation with investment leaving to a more politcally stable environment. I think that if Quebec were to separate the trading ties would be so close with Canada, they would be more of a sovereign province. I don’t feel that the rest of Canada would view Quebec as a national entity.

    In either situation, this is a touchy subject to all Canadians. Personally, I think Quebec holds many of the answers that the rest of Canada needs. Quebec’s fear of being anglocized is the same fear most Canadians have of being Americanized. I like how Quebecois media and industries have been “masters in their own house”. I don’t think that English Canadians should view the Quiet Revolution as anti-Canadian, but rather view the call for seperatism as a smaller microcosm of the real fears in Canadian society. We are a country defined in contrast with our American neighbours, yet we must unite so many different regions. Canadian nationalism compeletely contradicts itself in this respect. We must feel a similar cause in order to not feel “American”, yet we are a nation made up of so many different backgrounds. Quebecois are different from Newfoundlanders, who are different from Western Canadians. However, if we can somehow create a national identity based on the grassroots organizations and institutions (as I feel Quebec has done a good job at doing), I feel we can finally become a secure nation.

    Will the cause of Quebec separation ever die? Of course not. As long as French Canadians see the difference between them and English Canadians they will always question their place in confederation, and will always question why they aren’t independent. Is Quebec separatism wrong? I don’t feel the concept is wrong. Traditionally Quebec was a conquered nation, and has always felt indepedent from English Canada. I feel as long as most Quebecois think logically, and truly know that many English Canadians (including myself) see them as fellow countrymen, the threat of separatism may never evolve into le nation du Quebec. So I say, let Quebecois sing “mon pays”, and let the rest of Canada learn a lesson from our French brothers and sisters.

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