Separation in Canada Essay

This essay has a total of 3674 words and 13 pages.

Separation in Canada



Canadian National Unity has been a serious debate to all Canadians for close to three
decades now. Starting with French President Charles DeGaulle, who in visiting Quebec told
a large crowd in Motreal, “Vivre le Quebec libre!” or, “Live in a free Quebec.” This one
event started the whole modern separtist movement in Canada, and brought us to where we
are now. They went from one person with an idea then, to 2 provincial parties, and a
federal one as well, now. This is a very serious issue, that could end up in the
destuction of an amazing country. It’s not like they’re bluffing, we’ve had two
Referendums on this issue (one almost resulting in a Yes vote), and numerous
Constitutional meetings to tweak what we live by to be in tune with the wants and needs of
many Quebekers, but it hasn’t worked to this point, and has been a long, stressful, but
interesting affair to this point. A little background is needed in order to understand
this whole ordeal. The Parti Quebecois is a provincial party in Quebec City. The party was
formed by René Lévesque, who was its leader from 1968 to 1982. In that time, the PQ formed
the government in Quebec from 1976 to 1982. The next leader was Pierre-Marc Johnson,
followed in 1988 by Jacques Parizeau. Mr Parizeau was leader until 1996. During that
period, the PQ formed the government from 1994-1996. There was a second referendum on
sovereignty in 1995 (cost $63.5 million): 60% to 40%. The current leader of the PQ is
Lucien Bouchard. The PQ currently forms the provincial government in Quebec City. The
Referendum of 1995 saw one of the closest votes possible as the No side squeaked out with
a 50.6% to 49.4% victory. The Bloc Quebecois is a separatist party in the federal
Parliament in Ottawa. The party was formed by Lucien Bouchard, who was its leader from
1991 to early 1996. The next leader of the party was Michel Gauthier. After a convention
in March, 1997, the next and current leader of the party was Gilles Duceppe.The BQ formed
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons during the last Parliament.
However, after the 1997 federal election, after getting 37.7% of Quebec's vote, it lost
second place status, and now sits as an official party in the House of Commons. Prime
Minister Chrétien sits atop the Federalist side. The longer Mr Chrétien governs, the
closer he seems to hold his cards. A very few advisors surround him, giving him aid and
have special tasks in order to save the country as a whole. Minister Stéphane Dion heads
this department, and is also President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (PCO). He
is really the man hired to talk to Bouchard and Duceppe and really save our country from a
federal aspect. Minister Anne McLellan handles the hottest potato of all: the Supreme
Court Reference on Quebec secession, which is the hallmark of the Feds' tough-love Plan B
strategy. The decision sets the legal parameters for any further secession attempt - a
clear referendum question and a clear majority (as opposed to a simple majority of 50% 1)
are now the law of the land. The Quebec Liberal Party pro Canadian with a twist of Quebec
nationalism, this party went digital in early 1997. Daniel Johnson announced in March,
1998 that he would step down as leader, and Jean Charest has taken his place. The party
lost the 1994 provincial election by only a couple percentage points, but actually won the
last election in terms of vote percentage - a big boost for unity. They currently hold 48
National Assembly seats. Vision Nationale, The new federalist party, led by Jean Briere,
will take a stand against any sovereignty referendums, while promoting bilingualism in
Quebec. The party opposes distinct society status for the province. Briere wants to tap
into the 2.4 million French Quebecers who voted "No" in the last referendum, and fight a
perception in the French media that wanting to stay in Canada is radical, while being a
separatist is normal. Throughout the world, Canada is known as a tranquil, economically
prosperous, multicultural society. Yet, in one of its provinces, Quebec, a number of
people are dissatisfied with Quebec’s relationship with the rest of Canada and want to
seperate. The issue of seperating is not new, in fact, the Quebecois voted on this very
same controversial subject in 1980, ending in a sixty-forty split in favor of the
federalists; In the weeks before the 1995 vote the polls showed a fifty-fifty split,
marking a clear and true division among both the Anglo phone and Francophone Canadians. To
secede would create a state of paralysis leading to an economic crisis the likes of which,
Canadians have never before experienced and truly cannot imagine. Therefore Quebec should
not separate from Canada. Quebec should remain a part of Canada, due to the fact that the
problems facing the Quebecois wouldn’t diminish or be resolved. Quebec always has been and
always will be a respected, distinct society within Canada, and leaving Canada now would
adversely affect more than just the Quebecois. First, the problems facing Quebec would not
diminish or be resolved through separation. The economic uncertainties that have plagued
Quebec, such as unemployment, high taxes, high government spending, as well as high
interest rates would not lessen. Businesses would pull out of Quebec due to concerns over
instability, thereby causing a higher rate of unemployment. The rising number of people
who would require financial assistance would rise dramatically, swamping, and maybe even
surpassing, the government’s ability to give aid. Quebec would have to create new
bureaucracy to replace current Canadian services that are designed to help improve social
problems such as teen pregnancy and elevated drop out rates. Without federal funds, this
would prove to be impossible, and in all likelihood such problems would grow. Without a
well educated work force Quebec will flounder in the global marketplace, adding a further
burden to the government and people. History has proven that, in countries where there is
such instability and economic hardship crime rates skyrocket. For years the Quebecois have
complained of the repression of the French language and culture, and of unfair treatment
by the rest of Canada. Yet ninety percent of French Canadians agree that the French
language is more secure now than ever and that English speaking Canadians believe that
Quebec always has been and always will be a respected, distinct society within Canada. To
prove just how much they value Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada, in its interpretation
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has recognized Quebec’s status as a distinct
society, and requires the consent of Ottawa and any seven provinces that make up at least
fifty percent of the population of Canada to make any changes. even that hasn’t stopped
Quebec’s or rather Parizeau’s and numerous other's whining. To further placate Quebec,
many proposals for change have been suggested, such as, 1) The restoration and formal
recognition of Quebec’s traditional right to a constitutional veto; 2) Jean Chretien has
promised to never allow the constitution to be changed in a way that affects Quebec
without their consent. It is obvious to anyone that Canada’s willingness to create such
changes demonstrates their desire to be a whole country, as well as how inflexible and
childish Quebec’s leaders really are. Third, leaving Canada would adversely affect beyond
just Quebec. The United States, Canada, and Mexico would all be forced to decide whether
or not they will accept Quebec into NAFTA, the North American Trade Agreement. Also,
Canada would face the possibility of breaking up completely. "There are no guarantees,"
predicts Gordon Gibson, author of Plan B: The Future of the Rest of Canada, "that there
will be only one new country." (If Quebec Goes, pg. 45). The secession of Quebec would
separate the Maritime provinces from mainland Canada and a unilateral declaration of
independence would most certainly result in a sharp drop in the value of the Canadian
dollar, plunging Canada into a terrible recession. Canada's dilemma, typically put, is the
separation of Quebec. At least since the rebellions of 1837-38, Quebeckers seemingly have
been revolting against Canada. The question has always been, "Will Quebec separate?" After
a recent referendum in Quebec almost answered yes, Canadians have begun to ask other
questions in more heated tones, such as, "Should Quebec be partitioned?" Quebeckers, for
their part, call partition dangerous, undemocratic, and contrary to law. They regard it as
a precedent that would threaten the geopolitical balance in North America. So the tensions
increase. From the perspective of the United States, the right question is: What would
follow separation? This deeper question contemplates a Canada that may not only split into
two parts -- Quebec and the rest of Canada -- but that may continue to break up. This view
of the problem is much broader, and it holds consequences in political, economic, and
security terms that immediately draw the United States into a far more dramatic set of
developments. Continuing separation potentially involves powers outside North America in
special treaties and coalitions. What starts as a simple breakup, could end in a complex
process of redefining the entire Canadian system, rooted in nationalist stresses that turn
out not to be restricted to former communist states and poor Third World countries but to
affect all multi-ethnic states in the post-Cold War order. This more complicated picture
of Quebec's separation and its consequences may be described as a worst-case scenario. But
is the thesis of continuing Canadian seperation after Quebec's secession possible? Could
North America fall apart? (Will Canada Unravel?, Pg. 2) The United States must take the
possibility seriously enough to draw up plans for a form of supranational affiliation with
the remnants of Canada. Ottawa, regardless of the party in power, has always argued that
its problems of unity are manageable. While its strategy for dealing with Quebec has
changed over time, it remains confident that the province can be convinced to remain in
the confederation. Ottawa is similarly confident that if Quebec were to separate, the rest
of Canada would remain united. The principal argument is that the problem is Quebec's
crazy demands for more everything. If these demands are met, separation ideas will die. If
they cannot be met and Quebec does secede, English-speaking Canada will nonetheless remain
unified because the source of the difficulties would be gone. Separatist Quebec agrees
with Ottawa on this interpretation. Jacques Parizeau, former head of the separatist Parti
Quebécois and premier of Quebec, argues that if and when Quebec goes, the remainder of
Canada will remain united. Part of the argument is surely cultural, namely, that English
speakers can better communicate and defend their culture without Quebec; culture will
unite. With Quebec gone, Ottawa will no longer be obliged to try and make every one feel
equal, and English Canada will survive as a unit and probably flourish. Some outside
Quebec believe, like Quebec nationalists, that separation would be good for Canada. Their
argument stresses that so much redundancy exists in administration and so much money is
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