Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Truth for a Change

A Parti Quebec politician said something that folks had dared not say: that separatism (sovereignty-ism, whatever) gives Quebec leverage when bargaining with the federal folks.  Of course.  We scholars of ethnic conflict and separatism have long considered separatism to be in part or in whole about groups bargaining for more.  Erin Jenne, a friend and co-author, has written a bunch of stuff that essentially considers the claims groups make to be a function of their bargaining leverage--that they demand more when they have more relative power. 

Of course, a basic assumption for the bargaining approach is ... insincerity.  The claims depend on bargaining power, not on the severity of grievances or what people genuinely about.  Ooops. 

And the quick thought here is: Quebec already has heaps of bargaining power, so the separatism that is so distracting (should the PQ focus on a referendum or good governance? should the Liberals in Quebec act like weak nationalists or weak federalists?) could be dropped.  Quebec has the second largest city in Canada and, due to past agreements, has a disproportionate share of seats in the Canadian parliament.  So, if one wants to win a majority at the national level, one needs to do well in Quebec.  Republicans can win the Presidency without California but it is hard.  Canadian parties have a very, very hard time winning a majority without Quebec (thus far, not so much).  So, there is already real bargaining power. 

The question at the end of the day is whether the additional leverage due to the stands on sovereignty/separation really buy Quebec that much more than its relative weight at the national level.  And what the costs of the separatist nationalism might be.  The reality might be that the net benefits of separatism have already been accumulated, and that the present sovereignty effort is not getting Quebeckers that much additional stuff and might not be worth it, given the nationalism tax we pay and pay.

1 comment:

Francois Caron said...

To get the separation ongoing, it's not about power gain; it's simply not to have somebody managing in our yard without asking. Do you know how Canada has balanced its budget during the 90s? It took what it needed from province transfer, diverted money from the Canadian employment found, and did not give back to province local programs that were newly given canadian-wide.

It's not a federation, it is and certainly was even more before, a centrist government acting like it was colonial time.

Yes, the system is so much patched with band-aid and direct bargain, that I don't consider patching it more. Break and rebuild for the needs of this century.

It's not about just money and winning it over the ROC, it's simply to restore our pride and stop this non-sense of two nation within one country.

We will be as we can be; richer or poorer, stronger or weaker, etc - I don't care!

Let us be!!
Let us change!!