Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh, man, does this shit never end?

An article in today's Globe and Mail points out that the divisibility... or indivisibility, depending on your point of view... of Quebec is in the public arena in that province again. This stems from the fact that there's a provincial election going on there and the Parti Quebecois leader, André Boisclair, has thrown the Hail Mary pass of promising yet another referendum on sovereignty if he wins. Like night follows day, the mantra of "if Canada is divisible, Quebec is divisible" rises.

I'm opposed to Quebec leaving (I think that goes without saying), and dividing Quebec as well if it does. It raises all kinds of incredible headaches. First of all, it would have to be achieved through negotiation: while Quebec is a province, its borders cannot legally be amended without its consent. Once it is a nation, we have no more jurisdiction over its boundaries than we have over those of the United States, or Mexico, or Namibia. And so if changes were to be made, it would have to be done by hashing it out with Quebec. The precedent of West Virginia is sometimes evoked. If the anglophones of Montreal and the Eastern Townships and the Cree and Inuit of Ungava don't want to quit Canada with Quebec, shouldn't they be able to secede from it (Quebec) to remain (in Canada), given that Quebec itself has set the example? So goes the logic. And I suppose it's sound, at least that far.

Where I see real problems arising is the next logical step. If Quebec is divisible by negotiation, doesn't it follow that rest of the country is as well? What about the francophone parts of Ontario and New Brunswick adjacent to Quebec? Long abandoned by Quebec as "warm bodies", what if they saw this as their chance to recover their patrimony instead of living under the (supposedly) benevolent largess of English Canada? What about Labrador, long coveted by Quebec but awarded to Newfoundland? If the Cree and Inuit of Quebec can leave they province they're in, what about other First Nations vis-a-vis the provinces in which they find themselves? Where does this end?

With Quebec. God forbid, but if they should choose to go, I say respect the boundaries that exist today; et adieu, mes vieux. Let it end there, and everyone adjust to those facts on the ground.

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