Editorial — March 19, 2014

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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A little bit of perspective can be a wondrous thing.

With the spectre of another Parti Quebecois victory in Quebec’s upcoming election, sovereignty is once again being openly discussed.

Meanwhile, the good people of Scotland are waging a divisive campaign of their own that would see the Scots end their 300-year partnership with England.

Let’s start a little closer to home.

While the latest CROP poll has Philippe Couillard’s Liberals at 39 per cent with Pauline Marois’s PQ at 36 per cent, the April 7 vote seems almost too close to call.

Referendum talk has been front and centre throughout the campaign. In fact, the latest CROP poll found that 67 per cent of Quebec people believe that the PQ will hold another referendum if they are returned to power.

Marois has said that she would like an independent Quebec as soon as possible.

Quebec held referendums in 1980 and 1995, with the latter a narrow victory for Canadian nationalists.

In both, much of the rest of the country nervously watched the results. I don’t get that sense this time.

Very few people really want them to go but there is also a palpable exhaustion with the whole idea in the rest of the country.

Others actually want to see it happen just for the spectacle of Quebec dealing with its massive debt while accepting its share of Canada’s as well. With a fairly small tax base and the sudden end to billions in federal transfer payments, Quebec would be a far less affluent nation than province.

Which brings us back to Scotland.

Where Quebec has a population of eight million in a country of nearly 35 million, Scotland has just over five million to the United Kingdom’s 63 million.

Somehow, the same central casting that has made out Quebec to be whiny malcontents has the lovable Scots as plucky underdogs.

Scotland’s four million voters will vote on Sept. 18 to either stay or go.

A big part of this campaign is tapping into the fierce sense of Scottish nationalism while simultaneously quenching fears about an independent Scotland’s economic prospects.

It doesn’t appear to be working so far, as only about a third of Scotland seems committed to independence with about a quarter of the voters uncommitted. To win, the independence movement would have to keep every vote they have while attracting virtually all of the uncommitted vote as well.

The arguments are very similar to Quebec’s. They want more of a social democracy, with some bristling at the perceived austerity of a more right wing central government.

Scotland already has a great deal of autonomy to make decisions -- like Quebec -- but what is less clear is where the money would come from in an independent nation.

Social democracy is a terrific idea, until the bills come in.

And that may be the key fact that dooms both independence movements.

 

Prince Albert Daily Herald

Organizations: Parti Quebecois, Prince Albert, Daily Herald

Geographic location: Quebec, Scotland, England Canada United Kingdom

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