.. esses that so much redundancy exists in administration and so much money is spent on bilingualization and transferred needlessly from rich province to poor province in an effort to keep Quebec inside the confederation that after separation both Quebec and English-speaking Canada would be better off, financially and otherwise. Without addressing this contention, the same assumption occurs here: after Quebec leaves, Canada remains united. The assumption that Quebec voters would not accept the economic costs and risks of separation and were not subject to romantic sentiment on this issue proved wrong. Until a week before the referendum, virtually no one predicted the closeness of the vote. Only an enormous last-minute rally in Montreal by the no vote halted the separatist surge. An index of the bind in which Canada now finds itself is that the solution Ottawa has proposed to meet Quebec’s demands is exactly the one a large majority of English-speaking Canadians oppose.
To quench Quebec’s desire for separation, Prime Minister Jean Chrtien has proposed three things: acknowledgement that Quebec is a distinct society; creation of a veto against constitutional change, usable by every region including Quebec; and Quebec control over worker retraining. A nationwide poll at the end of 1995 showed the massive dislike among English-speaking citizens with such attempts to save Canada. Eighty-three per cent of respondents across Canada did not want Quebec to have a constitutional veto. Indeed, the same percentage disagreed with Quebec nationalists on the issue of whether Canada is composed of two founding peoples, preferring instead to think of Canada as ten equal provinces. Some 61 per cent said that Quebec should not even be constitutionally recognized as a distinct society. (MacLeans, pg.
14, Nov. 6/95) Given the bitter history of constitutional struggle in Canada and the current public disfavour toward reform, Quebeckers can hardly be faulted for their skepticism that the legal reforms will ever be constitutionally entrenched. So, despite the welcome boldness of the prime minister’s legal initiatives, neither English-speaking nor French-speaking Canada, in the end, accepts the terms of these initiatives. Separatist preference is generational. The youth are most supportive.
As each generation ages, the support within that generation retains its strength. If the trend in support for Quebec independence is to be reversed, the federalists need new vision and energy. Ottawa probably has felt it must downplay all hints of the danger of disunity. Yet recently Ottawa has reversed that policy by stating that if Quebec separated, anglophone Montreal would have an incentive to secede and indeed would secede. So Ottawa is now taking the possibility of further fragmentation seriously.
People tend to look only at the economic savings of a breakup and not the political consequences of additional seperation. It is time that they carefully examine the basis of continuing seperation of Canada, and of Quebec. Three major difficulties would confront the federal government in its attempt to keep English-speaking Canada united after Quebec’s secession. First, once the glue of federalism is gone, the rich provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta would no longer have any reason to give pay outs to the poor provinces like Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba. The average Albertan pays an annual tax of $900 to enable a province like Newfoundland, which receives 60 per cent of its budget from the general slush fund, to remain semi-solvent and attached to the confederation (If Quecec Goes, Pg. 71). But in the absence of a unified country, would that resident of Alberta or British Columbia be so inclined to pay this confederation tax? Second, an independent Quebec would geographically destroy four provinces: Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island; from the rest of Canada. Undoubtedly, Quebec as an independent country would allow Canadians all the privileges of transit, communications, and the flow of goods, services, and people now accorded Americans with Canada or Mexico.
But the feeling of being cut adrift would still live strong in Atlantic Canada. A third difficulty, expressed by western Canada, would be the feeling of alienation from and dominance by the economic power of Ontario. This feeling of dependence has been put in place by a tarrif policy that forced westerners to buy dear in Toronto and sell cheap east or west, rather than follow the more travelled and profitable lines of commerce that flow north to south. The purpose of this so-called national policy was to jump-start the industrial base in central Canada, but, in the opinion of westerners, at their expense. With the advent of the Canada-U.S.
Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, the distortions of trade resulting from tariffs have disappeared, but the feelings of political and economic dependence in the west live on. For example, the federal Liberal Party of Canada has its power base in the industrial heartland of central Canada and is not well-represented west of Winnipeg. After a breakup, the English-speaking remains of Canada would contain a lopsided distribution of power. Ontario would be like a king, the remaining provinces like slaves, not so much in terms of territory as in industrial capacity and population. Surely western Canada would demand a change of government along the lines of the United States, with an equal Senate and perhaps a more powerful House to lower the strength of the prime minister.
But such a change of power within a smaller Canada, and away from Ottawa toward the western provinces, might likewise fail. It might amount to too much sacrifice for central Canada, but not enough gain for Alberta and British Columbia. Politically, an independent Quebec could survive adjustment, capital flight, and exchange-rate fluctuation in the short term and a lessened growth rate over the long term, if at a price. But could it remain whole? On the heels of Quebec’s independence, English is the language in the Ottawa River valley, west Montreal, and the Eastern Townships region might attempt to create separate city-states of their own. Also, the Cree and other Indian tribes and Inuit communities reject Quebec independence, either because their lands would be divided by separation, or because they believe that Ottawa looks better than Quebec City on their eventual self-government.
Only in the twentieth century was the northernmost section of Quebec, Rupert’s Land, formally granted to the province by British imperial authority. Potentially resource-rich, this territory contains such assets as the James Bay hydroelectric project( If Quebec Goes, Pg. 112). If Canada is divisible, then why is Quebec indivisible? If Quebec is indivisible then on what grounds should Canada be obliged to allow Quebec’s secession? In an age of mini-states like Singapore and Luxembourg, the minimum requirement for self-government, however compromised, is not very substantial. Seperation of an independent Quebec cannot be ruled out by the possibility of a minimum state size. Washington must be prepared for all possibilities. Seperationn of Canada, depending on its nature and extent, would transfer some of the cost of administration from Ottawa to Washington. Washington increasingly would take on the jobs of peacemaker, rule-maker and police officer.
These are not roles that the United States should seek. Nor are they responsibilities Washington would necessarily be able to carry out better than any of the Canadian provinces or the Canadian federal government. To conclude, this issue is still a huge burden on the always awkward Canadian economy. Both the federal and Quebec governments should get down to business with this and figure it all out as best they can, so it wont hurt our country anymore then it already has. All the other Provincial governments should have representatives there, and all get their opinions heard and then come to some sort of a conclusion, so we can get on with it all. If they cant come to some sort an agreement, or theres a stalemate, then fine let them have another referendum, and if that works, great, let them leave, it cant hurt anymore then having them complaining and talking about what they want to do.
Really its been a series of threats and no real serious go at seperation, its all a big thing, seeing how far the feds will go before they lose it and say fine, get out of here. All in all, this is Canadas biggest problem to this point and should be solved as soon as possible, because one of the scenarios above is going to happen, and the longer they wait the harder it gets, so someone better go out and take a stranglehold on this whole issue and get it settled, one way or the other, or you could see a great country spiral from the greatest country in the world today, to a sad story in a hurry.. Only the future can tell, and the politicians have got to come up with the answers, and let the people tell them what is needed, and then maybe we can get on to living, with or without Quebec, well thats what the future is going to tell.. Bibliography Cote, Marcel, and David Johnson. If Quebec Goes.. Toronto: Stoddart, 1995. Encarta 97.
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