Friday, June 29, 2012

Premature Panic About the Next Referendum

Folks are worried that in the next referendum on Quebec independence (if the question is clear), Canada will not show up nor will there be any leaders of the federal side.  There are some reasons to be concerned: the rest of Canada is tired of Quebec being subsidized; that those subsidies are creating entitlement (see months of student protest because their lowest tuition will be lower than the rest by less [it will go up but not enough to be at the same levels as elsewhere]; that there are no appealing Quebeckers who might be on the No side.  All true, but such arguments omit some important counter-weights:
  • Yes, the PQ will come back into power, but the party is hardly a unified entity.  As soon as Marois is in power, the cleavages will become more apparent.  Moreover, it will go into power, if it does, as the winner of a three-way fight.  It may gain a majority in seats with only thirty-something percent of the vote.  The rest of the vote would be going to a federalist party (if a lame one) and a new party, Coalition Avenir Québec [CAQ], that is not enthused about sovereignty (wants to kick that can down the road ten or more years). 
  • Speaking of lame leaders, Marois is unlikely to be convincing.  If she is the voice of independence, Canada may not have as much to worry about.  How does she compare to the previous generations of referendum leaders?  She is better than Rene Levesque? Is she more dynamic than Jacques Parizeau?  Looking at only lame Federalists makes one forget that the current crop of sovereigntists are pretty lame, too.
  • Demographic changes in Quebec make it less likely that a yes vote will succeed.  Sure, Anglophones did flee (as I am doing right now), but they are offset by the waves of immigrants who moved to Quebec, became citizens and learned French.  What the PQ will find out is this: learning French does not make one a sovereigntist.  Indeed, these folks may have moved to Quebec because they wanted to live in Canada, and Quebec was a favored part of that Canadian entity in which to reside. 
  • Polls show that Quebeckers are not in love with another sovereignty debate.  Hence the popularity of the newest hot third party--CAQ.  So, while the spirit in favor of a united Canada may not be as willing this time as last, the same is true for the other side.
Confirmation bias abounds.  People are noticing only that which appeals to their arguments, including, of course, me.  The truly important thing is this: my home value no longer rides as much on this as live now in Ottawa and not Montreal.  And isn't everything always about me?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel like the majority of yes votes for Quebec separation wouldn't even come from the province itself but from the rest of the country - if anything to just seem the province fail.