The one thing that stands out when you examine the ideological underpinnings of British nationalism (or Unionism) and Canadian nationalism (or Federalism) is the commonalities they share when it comes to dealing with those territories Britain and Canada “acquired” in times past. For the British (or rather the English) the island nation of Ireland – Free and Occupied – continues to provide no end of existential angst. Britain’s first and last colony is so tied up with Anglo-British notions of racial, linguistic and cultural superiority that one wonders what on earth they will do when the tattered remnant of that last colony soon disappears into the pages of history. A Scotland free of London rule provides a similar challenge to the mental hegemony of Greater England, albeit to a less bellicose degree. On the North American continent it is Québec’s tortured relationship with Canada that provides some seriously dysfunctional – and militant – thinking in what we would call “Unionist” circles.
So, given that Britain’s answer to the pro-independence votes by the people of the island of Ireland was the deliberate crippling and impoverishment of their nation through the imposition of “partition”, it is hardly surprising that this “solution” is being suggested for Scotland as well. What is more surprising is that some sabre-rattling Canadian Federalists favour this idea too. Though in this case their target is of course Québec. From the National Post newspaper:
“So how should our federal government respond if a referendum is called by a re-elected Parti Québécois?
Have the courage to tell Quebec, flat out, that if Canada is divisible, so is Quebec. And whatever clear voting standard is used to adjudicate the overall result of the province’s referendum will be the same result used to adjudicate the status of the province’s northern Cree regions, the Eastern Townships, and, most importantly, Montreal.
Which is to say: If 60% of Quebcers somehow can be convinced to vote for separation, while 60% of Montrealers vote to retain the status quo, then Ottawa should partition Montreal as part of sovereign Canada, free of Quebec’s parochial language laws, ethnic demagoguery and dead-end economic policies.
Partition wouldn’t be about Canada making any sort of land grab, even if that is how separatists would describe it. Partition would be about fulfilling our historical and constitutional obligations to Canadians — especially Anglophones and immigrants — who have grown up in this country expecting their government to respect basic rights (especially those pertaining to language and religion). Since Quebec’s separatists have shown that they have no intention of respecting these rights — indeed, that are willing to ostentatiously flout these rights as a means to appeal to the worst instincts of Québécois voters — the federal government must signal that it will act decisively when the votes are counted.
It is fine for jaded Canadians in Toronto and Calgary to say they’re tired of Quebec’s complaints, and that the province can just “go its own way” if it likes. But there are several million people living in Quebec who oppose their provincial government’s separatist agenda, and they may soon be looking to Ottawa for vindication of their rights. In the unlikely event that the separatists win a referendum, the voices of these Canadians must not be ignored.”
Yes, because the imposition of a “border” cutting off parts of southern and eastern Québec from the rest of the Francophone nation will certainly go well. Crimea with a Canadian accent.
Like I said, seriously dysfunctional thinking.