Mon, Mar 20, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Why Quebec is different

I must take exception to the letter printed in your newspaper by Michel Gourd (Letter, March 16, page 8).

Gourd suggests that in an effort to prevent Quebec separation, the federal government of Canada "put all its money and weight into stopping the separatists from succeeding. This has included using undemocratic tactics, such as in the 1995 Quebec referendum -- when everything, including the kitchen sink, was thrown at the separatists to keep them from achieving their goal."

First, the federal government of Canada represents all Cana-dians, including those who reside in Quebec and who are not in favor of an independent Quebec. Any responsible government would be expected to do nothing less.

Gourd goes on to say "The entire Canadian secret service was and still is working to dwarf the will of Quebec separatists. Terrorist groups were operating freely in the country. When they searched for Canadian spies, they were discovered at the highest level of the separatist movement."

To say that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service was devoting all or even a majority of its resources to the Quebec issue is foolhardy and uninformed. Certainly some of their resources are spent in that area, but hardly more than a small percentage.

As to Gourd's comments on the refusal of the Canadian government to agree to Quebec's demands for secession, the reasons are quite simple.

First, in the 1995 referendum, the Quebec government failed to achieve 50 percent in favor of separation.

Second, they also failed to word the question on the 1995 referendum in a way that made it easy for most people to understand the implications of the referendum. It was a convoluted and unclear question. Subsequently, the federal government passed the Clarity Act of 2000. Essentially, the act states that any future referendum question on separation must be clearly worded in order for it to be understood that the will of the people is for independence and a complete and total separation from Canada.

Should the separatists in Quebec word a referendum question appropriately, and should they achieve a majority vote, then the government of Canada will recognize the wishes of the people of Quebec. But, so far, the separatists have presided over two failed referendums and Quebeckers have voted to remain a part of Canada.

Finally, comparing the Quebec/Canada and the Taiwan/China situations is like comparing apples and oranges. There are separatist elements in both Quebec and Taiwan, however the similarities stop there. Quebec is free to secede from Canada, provided certain requirements are fulfilled.

A majority vote and a clearly worded referendum question are two of them. Quebec separatists have failed on both counts. At any rate, Quebeckers, even in the event they do vote in favor of independence in a future referendum, have no need to worry about a military invasion from the rest of Canada. Taiwan, in its bid for (well-deserved) independence, may not be so lucky in dealing with China.

James Clost

Peterborough, Ontario

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