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.