Québec Partition and the PQ’s Referendum Dance

Québec Partition and the PQ’s Referendum Dance

I prefer not to start an article in response to another article, particularly one that plays fast and loose with sweeping generalizations about Québec.  But when I saw Jonathan Kay’s National Post article floating through my Facebook feed, something resonated.

The gist of his argument is this: if a referendum can separate Québec from Canada, then there’s no reason it can’t also separate Montréal from Québec, should Montréal opt to stay within Canada.  That logic can then also extend to individual boroughs town by town, should you take it to the next logical step.  If that sends Berlin-wall chills down your spine… it shouldn’t.  A distinct Québec state would certainly not entertain iron-curtain like relations with Canada, and there’s plenty of international precedent for easy borders between friendly countries.  That’s not what this is about.

Rather, I’m looking North.  And I’m looking back.

Little-known fact – in 1995, the Cree (and Inuit, who undertook similar measures) organized their own referendums, asking the following question:

“Do you consent, as a people, that the Government of Quebec separate the James Bay Crees and Cree traditional territory from Canada in the event of a Yes vote in the Quebec referendum?”

The result: over 96% of Cree and Inuit voted “Yes”. In other words, should Québec secede, the majority (and ancestral) ethnic group in territories representing over half of Québec’s territory – as well as the overwhelming majority of its coveted natural resources – no longer wants to be part of Québec.  If we’re being honest and fair, whatever arguments are made for separation of Québec from Canada are the same arguments that individual regions will be able to make for partition from Québec to stay in Canada.

If you’re still wondering why the PQ government’s focus shifted away from the Plan Nord in favour of speculative oil exploration on l’Île d’Anticosti, consider that unlike the North, l’Île d’Anticosti voted 60% in favour of separation in 1995.  This is speculation, of course, but that’s my sense for how the PQ is seeing the next moves on its chessboard.

I am not a separatist, but I certainly am a Québec nationalist and patriot.  I believe we Québecois form a healthy, rich, and distinct society which deserves a healthy dose of wiggle-room when it comes to Canadian federation.  So I wholeheartedly understand that separatism is, from a certain point of view, a valid political agenda – albeit one I do not share.  To those who do share this agenda, though, I ask: does your Québec include Montréal?  Does it include the North?  Does it include the Townships or the Outaouais?

With the PQ playing on-again, off-again with promises of a referendum should they win a majority, this is something to keep in mind.  Seems to me, as we go into the next election, the PQ’s vision of just who and what actually is Québec gets smaller and smaller.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset is passionate about discussing (among other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image. He has an engineering degree from Université Laval and is currently a law student at McGill University.

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