Sovereignty is back on the PQ agenda

12.01.02

Sovereignty is back on the PQ agenda with the creation of a new fund to promote Quebec independence.

Premier Bernard Landry said on Friday the fund will be announced at the party’s annual convention this weekend in Quebec City, as the Parti Quebecois gears up for a provincial election, expected next June.

The fund will be made up of contributions from citizens, and donations are expected to be tax deductible, Landry said.

On the one hand, we’re all so sick of hearing about sovereignty that I’m not overjoyed to hear it being discussed again. On the other hand, we’re all so sick of hearing about sovereignty that this will probably end up hurting the PQ come election time. Certainly, current polls seem to indicate as much:

Friday’s polls suggest the Action Democratique and the Liberals are neck and neck in the run-up to the elections.

On the issue of Quebec’s separation from Canada, one of the polls showed 61 percent of Quebecers opposed independence while 39 percent were in favor.

Mind you, with the riding system, a Liberal-ADQ split could mean a PQ majority victory. It depends on the geographical spread, which generally favours the PQ. The ADQ will probably lose considerable support between now and next spring, while the PQ and the Liberals will likely gain support, mainly because of money – the two major parties have it, the ADQ doesn’t. The winner will probably be the party who loses the least support to the ADQ – the party that has managed to give a whole new meaning to “fence-sitting”.

Of course, support for sovereignty may be at a low right now, but that doesn’t mean anything. Who could’ve predicted such a close referendum result in 1995? Who could forget the tension, watching on two or three tv stations at the same time while they counted the votes that would decide our future? Who could forget the panic, the droves of people who made the trek down the 401? Who could forget the suspicion and divisions in our society, as we somehow expected anyone who’d voted Yes to have horns hiding in their hair or something? I had very little political perspective back in 1995. All I knew was that people were scared of what might happen.

But today, I’ve found my attitude shifting somewhat. I still think the arguments for sovereignty are stupid. I still hate having my rights infringed upon as an anglophone, or listening to endless debates on how to outlaw English on the Internet or blame Ottawa for the latest Quebec goof-up. I’m sick of referendums and of electoral fraud and of the hard-line buffoons who love to blame everything on “money and the ethnic vote”. And if it should ever happen that a Yes vote passes in a future referendum, I’ll probably pack my boxes and move to Ontario or the States in tears and sadness.

But there’s a part of me that’s relieved, too. Relieved that the sovereignty debate is a bunch of people debating in government and passing dumb laws and holding neverendum-referendums, and that’s about the extent of it. Because I look around the world, and I see that almost every movement for nationalism has been through violence and bloodshed. I look at places like Ireland, Croatia, or the current conflict in the Middle East, and I think to myself: wow, it could be a whole lot worse! With the notable exception of the FLQ, the Quebec nationalism movement has been refreshingly free of violence for the past 30 years.

Therefore, if endless political debate is the price we pay for a non-violent nationalism movement, then I’m more than happy to pay it.

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