Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Separatism is Back!

Well, it never left.  When I moved to Quebec in 2002, wishful thinking (a desperate desire to get out of Lubbock) led to the temporary belief that separatism goes away.  I knew better, but was focused on other stuff at the time.

Anyhow, there are a couple of interesting stories:
  • CBC Montreal tweeted: "Separatist Scottish First Minister A. Salmond to meet with Premier Pauline Marois, but has cancelled any public appearance with her."  Of course, as I tweeted, I would be embarrassed to be seen with Marois, too.  Just teasing.  Well, not really. If I wanted to a successful separatist, being seen with the perpetually falling short Parti Quebecois would not be such a good idea.   It would just remind folks that separatism in advanced democracies is pretty useful for extracting some autonomy and a heap of cash from the federal government, but not so good at facilitating independence.  Of course, given that Scotland's process seems almost entirely Quebec deja vu, perhaps that is all that Salmond really wants?  
    • I will find out more on this next fall, as I am going to Scotland for a conference that will take place a year before the referendum.  My role is to speak on the implications for the rest of Europe.  Given my usual "confirmation bias means that folks learn what they want" tact, I will be arguing that Scotland will not matter that much for the Belgians, for instance.
  • The NDP is sucking up to Quebeckers with an attempt to revise the Clarity Act.   Given that the Conservatives are not going to bend on this, this effort is symbolic.  It shows, as we have seen before, that the NDP is not a federalist party as we have come to know the term.  They previously campaigned in ways that suggested they would sell out Canada for Quebec votes, and this proposal is more of the same.  I happen to agree with ye olde Liberals and the Supreme Court that a separatist referendum needs to be quite clear--the stakes are too high to let a confusing question or a very bare majority swing the outcome.  If you want independence, prove that it is something the people really want and not just a passing fad.  
    • Thus far, Quebec has proved that it has no real hunger for independence.  Besides Montenegro (55% plus), I cannot think of separatist movement that could not get overwhelming majorities in favor.  That Quebec separatists cannot says much about Canada, about Quebec, and about the nationalists.
    • The article linked above points out the NDP: "requires a two-thirds vote to change its own party constitution while deeming 50-plus-one sufficient to break up the country."  Hmmm.
Anyhow, been a while since I have posted in separatism.  I really do not see that much of a risk in the near term--can the PQ blame the latest infrastructure disaster (see below) on the federal government?  We shall see.

Dude, somebody should probably save the NDP from pandering too much.

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