The question of whether Quebec will secede from Canada to become an independent nation has been a hot topic in the country for several years now. It dates back to the abortive rebellions of 1837-38. In 1980, a referendum to secede was rejected by a 60-40 margin. Since then though, the numbers of Quebeckers that want to become sovereign has significantly increased. There is so many questions of what will happen if this does happen. In this paper I plan to take a deeper look at this situation and try to figure out what it would actually be like if Quebec was its own country.
The premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard has been attempting to separate from Canada for quite sometime. If he had it his way this topic would be old news by now. His main problem is the Federalist, English speaking citizens of his province. They have been very vocal on their stance to stay apart of Canada. They have sent around several resolutions stating this. It all started in Allumette Island East, which has a population of 458. It has since spread to municipalities along the borders with Ontario and the United States, and in the Montreal area. Unfortunately this means very little considering the fact that these municipalities only represent approximately 6% of the province's population. When the Parti Quebecois government called for the first referendum on secession in 1980, only 40% were in favor of separatism. When the party took over control again in 1995 the approval rose just about 49%. The fear of the PQ is that if several of the floating voters out there feel that a sovereign Quebec must mean a partitioned, patchwork Quebec, the separatists might well fall back to 40% if that.
One group of Quebeckers with the strongest-and geographically the widest claims for self determination, the Cree, Inuit, and Innu who occupy the resource-rich northern two-thirds of the province. The views of these nations oddly enough seem to go unmentioned. During the 1995 attempt to secede these three groups all voted by more than 95% to stick with Canada.
People outside of Canada are baffled at how Canada ended up in such a state of affairs. Canada as a country has a lot going for it. A high GNP, and high per capita income in international terms. It is ranked at the top of the list by the United Nations for quality of life. Canada is also considered a constructive member of the international community. They take part in just about all international organizations in existence. Don't get me wrong, there are also many problems within the Country. For instance the rocky relationship between the majority and the indigenous people. There is also a great differential of wealth between regions, and inequalities in personal incomes. Despite all of this, many feel that this is not the reason for Quebec secession.
Quebec has 24 percent of the total population of Canada, and 25 percent of its Gross National Product. The majority of Quebec's population is of French descent and language. It reaches approximately 83 percent of the entire province. About 60 percent of the French voted for secession in the 1995 referendum, at a remarkably high turn out, 94 percent of the total electorate.
It is noteworthy that of those francophone Quebeckers favoring federalism were the older group over 50 years of age. However, in the younger age group pro-secessionists had the majority. The anglophones, allophones, and the indigenous people were all strongly against secession. The premier of Quebec Lucien Bouchard has in fact stated that there will be another referendum. Although under Quebec Law this cannot take place until another provincial election has been held. However, the Government is now more concerned with rebounding Quebec's struggling economy which has struggled as a result of the political uncertainty. The drive for secession is currently on the political back burner in the province for the moment.
Bibliography: Doran, Charles F. "Will Canada Unravel?" in Foreign Affairs. Sept-Oct 1996 v75 n5 pg97
"Quebec Divisible" in The Economist(US) December 6,1997 v344 n8046 pg 36
Bowen, Bruce "Jeffrey Simpson: Will the Quebec Secessionists Succeed?" in New Zealand International Review, May-June 1997 v22 n3 pg 30
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