Would a Canadian-style compromise negate the demand for independence?

So you might expect Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Quebecois, to be dejected.

But when I met PSPP – everyone uses the abbreviated form of his name – in Edinburgh late last month, he was anything but.

In fact, the Oxford-educated barrister was quite lively.

Now politicians can put a good face on journalists. I’ve seen some of the poor souls salute hacks they couldn’t stand with the enthusiasm of war women bringing their men home from the front lines.

And of course, there’s something about an international trip that lifts the spirits of executives too – helping them think about the big picture, away from the needling on little things that so often dominate headlines everywhere these days.

CONTINUE READING: What Quebec really teaches us about Scottish independence writes David Leask

Nonetheless, the positivity of the PSPP was remarkable. Such were the reasons he gave for it. Indeed, for either side of Scotland’s constitutional division, I think it’s worth pondering why a Quebec sovereignist would be so frisky right now. Perhaps there are lessons for us here.

But first, a little refresher. During her tenure, the Parti Quebecois — as its leader is often referred to by the acronym PQ — has held independence referendums twice. It lost the second by a hair’s breadth in 1995.

It has since formed governments but is currently in opposition. With the party’s core votes under 20% evenly distributed across the ‘nation within Canada’, it is failing to break through a democracy based on Britain’s seedy first-past-the-post system.

That doesn’t mean “nationalists,” as we might call them, are out of the picture. In fact, they are in power.

A former PQ minister named Francois Legault and his CAQ party were overwhelmingly re-elected last year. This mob is passionately pro-Quebec but politically federalist. In other words, they believe that the PQ’s longstanding goals — protecting Quebec’s interests, particularly its language and culture — can be achieved within the Canadian state.

HeraldScotland: A pro-independence supporter hoists the flag outside WestminsterA pro-independence supporter hoists the flag outside Westminster (image: free)

Mr. Legault – who also benefited from a Covid bonus – somehow manages to persuade pro- and anti-Indy Quebecers to support his party. There are a few people in Scotland – I am one of them – who have wondered where such anti-independence nationalists are to be found. In Wales, Labor is still pulling off that trick. Well, well. Perhaps.

So why is the PSPP brave in the face of such an impressive cocktail of political federalism and nationalism? Because he doesn’t think it will work.

The PQ leader believes Mr Legault is failing to deliver on what he promises – particularly the best interests of francophone Quebec – inside Canada. The federal government doesn’t need to worry about Quebec, he says. Because a ruling party doesn’t need the province to win (anglophone Canada is much larger) and doesn’t have to make concessions because the CAQ took independence off the table.

And if Quebec’s francophone majority cannot count on CAQ to be their protector, the logic of the PSPP goes, they will revert to sovereignism. Is that wishful thinking? We will see.

A few francophone Quebecers feel the need for protection. Other French-speaking communities in North America were eventually assimilated. There are still francophones in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario (some fear they would be worse off without la belle province). But think about it, PSPP says what happened to New Orleans in a familiar chorus for pro-independence voices. It has become anglophone.

PSPP has a big point. I’m sorry I’m getting to this so slowly. In his opinion, too many English-speaking Canadians, even those in power, treat their French-speaking fellow citizens with “contempt.”

CONTINUE READING: Quebec nationalists seek pro-Indy alliance with Scots and Catalans

“In Canada, the only form of socially acceptable discrimination and racism is against Francophones,” said St-Pierre Plamondon. “Each group that is considered an ethnocultural group is treated with a lot of care and thought is given to how their differences can be respected. But the amount of Quebec bashing I’ve witnessed in my life shows that there is social acceptance in Quebec of speaking out against francophones.”

This isn’t just politician talk. One of the weirdest things about reporting from Canada is asking “nice” Anglophones about Quebec.

Suddenly, even lily-living liberals can end up saying the most bizarre and nasty things about people they sometimes still casually refer to as “pea soups.” There is even an inverted logic that calls people who advocate for minority language rights Nazis. Of course, that doesn’t apply to everyone. Many Canadians have friends and family in different languages ​​and cultures.

There are also many Quebecers, French and English speakers who view Mr. Legault’s anti-sovereign nationalism as chauvinistic. For what it’s worth, PSPP doesn’t (I asked him). The PQ leader also finds the word nationalism unhelpful; Like the SNP, he describes himself as a social-democrat.

Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon has a theory about Anglophones’ contempt for Francophones. It stems, he believes, from cultural imperialism, from the way the British rationalized their conquest of New France and then continued control of what became known as Quebec.

Wasn’t New France a colonial enterprise, I asked him. Sure, he concedes. But the PSPP still sees the Francophones as victims of the Empire.

Polls show support for a state of Quebec is growing – but still lagging behind. The sovereignist vote remains split between the PQ, CAQ and a left-green pro-independence party called Quebec Solidaire. The PQ leader reckons Canada can be counted on to do something to piss off Quebecers. They always do, he said.

This should be the stuff of Scottish thinking.

Here, a robust no to indyref2 has thrown the yes movement into self-destructive disarray. Could a Scottish CAQ emerge from the fallout? And can the UK avoid the kind of contempt for Scotland that the PSPP sees in Canada for Quebec?

https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/viewpoint/23377451.canadian-style-compromise-kill-off-demand-independence/?ref=rss Would a Canadian-style compromise negate the demand for independence?

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