Current Affairs Politics

The Partition Of Québec

A partitioned Québec. The "British solution" to a Québec vote for independence
A partitioned Québec. The “British solution” to a Québec vote for independence

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.

16 comments on “The Partition Of Québec

  1. So it matters to preserve Ukrainies territorial integrity but not Quebec? Double standards shown by the anglo-saxons once again


  2. Proper name for these canadian unionists would be ’empire loyalists’ not ‘canadian nationalists’


    • That is indeed the cultural origin, Mark. Partition of recognised territories or peoples has always had disasterous consequenecs. I can think of few situations where it brought any good.


    • Both of them are ’empire loyalists’.


  3. Athbhlagáladh é seo ar pictishbeastie..


  4. Why should French speakers have more rights than the Cree. I think the Cree were there first. The French are of course famous for their disrespect of everyone else’s linguistic and cultural rights. Face it, they’re even more full of themselves than the English, and that’s saying something!


    • In relation to the First Nations I support their right to national self-determination whether in Canada or Québec. On that there is no disagreement. Indigenous communities in Québec should have a separate right to vote for their own future within whatever political or constitutional framework they choose. Independence, confederation, federation, autonomy etc. on their own, with Canada or with Québec. Or indeed maybe with both. I know many in Québec who recognise First Nation rights up to and including full independence. That does need greater acceptance though.

      In relation to France and minority rights the British state is indeed the more “liberal” and “progressive” one.


  5. Strongly agree with Macronatrix.

    Quebec is without doubt an interesting case for us, especially for the cultural / linguistic issues.

    However, the history of French speakers in the Canadian state couldn’t be further from the history of Gaels in Ireland. Our corresponding experience in that area is that of the Cree, proud, indigenous people marginalised and subjected to a brutal system of colonisation.

    In our analysis of the current cultural / linguistic debate in Quebec, we must not forget that French speakers there are a product of the same empirialistic, colonial forces as the English.

    Ar bhealach amháin is suim liom go mór an troid teanga thall, ar bhealach eile cuireann sé samhnas orm.


  6. Both the French and the English are colonisers in Canada.
    To say that one of them can have more rights to any part of Canada than the other is just ridiculous.
    Both of them are basically arguing over stolen property.
    The French are NOT some kind of oppressed minority in Canada.


  7. Been There

    The partition of Ireland was justified on the basis of the inalienable right to democracy and ethnic self-determination. It would have been wrong to force Ulster folk into a union with an independent Ireland which they clearly opposed on a democratic basis and whom they did not share their national identity, religion, culture or origins with.

    Partition was inevitable considering the two different national communities on the island and in and onto itself it wasn’t unjust.

    The partition was not the problem, but the way Ulster was governed up to the 1960s and the fact that some terrorists strove to deny the democratic right to self determination of Ulster folk and force them into a “United Ireland”, which has never existed, does not exist today ethnically and nationally and at the current rate never will exist.


    • Pass your crack-pipe I’d love a toke of it.


    • MPG .....

      If I remember correctly your so call “Ulster Folk” were a minority in Ulster never mind Ireland at that time and as for the rest of the drivel…….
      How do you justify the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of Ulster (Irish) folk from their natural home with their fellow countrymen/women? Which “minority” had the right to impose a solution on the other? I’ll answer that- the ones with the most and biggest guns backed to the hilt by imperial perfidious Albion.

      Oh and by the way I love the grandstanding last paragraph- not. Sounds like flegerism to me.

      What planet do you live on exactly? or is it the magic mushrooms perhaps, that are deluding your good-self?


  8. Nord-du-Québec was only added to Québec in 1912, before that it was part of the Northwest Territories. Nunavik for example would be better served with separation from Québec and union with Nunavut


    • Agreed.

      The aboriginal communities should have the option to decide their own political future after a Québec referendum. And that should be guaranteed before hand by al parties.


  9. If the Québécois had any sense about them, they would make an alliance with with the 11 distinct Nations who’s land they live on. They’re only 2% of the population, but if Québec can’t do this, they remain settler colonists not worthy of much respect.

    Unfortunately, their settler colonial arrogance has more in common with Ulster Unionism than with any form of Irish Republicanism.

    The Cascadians out in BC who want to secede are working to get it right. An Indigenous lead succession movement would have more in common with the Irish Republican struggle, and it’s gaining traction in Cascadia.

    Interestingly, there are plans for Cascadia and Québec to play a football friendly soon, as both have teams recognized by the N.F.-Board!


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