Unsurprisingly, my letter on Quebec independence (Letter, March 16, page 8) drew fire from Canadians. In these few lines, I want to answer James Clost's (Letters, March 20, page 8) and Gilles Chartrand's (Letters, March 18, page 8) comments on my text.
I think they were examples of what Chen I-chung (陳宜中) ("Pragmatic path is the best solution," Feb. 24, page 8) was saying. Even an old democracy like Canada refuses to agree to Quebec's unilateral demands for separation. I don't agree with Clost's assertion that any responsible government would be expected to act like the Canadian government did in the Oct. 30, 1995, referendum. After using all the democratic tools offered to the "no" side, it used undemocratic tricks to ensure victory.
A decade after the Quebec referendum, two recent books in French show how wicked its actions were. The first book, Robin Philpot's Le Referendum Vole ("The Stolen Referendum") shows how Canada stole the 1995 federalist victory. The Quebec referendum was conducted under the principle that the opposing camps should have equal means to defend their options during the referendum campaign.
Philpot found that by intervening in the 1995 referendum, Canadians outside Quebec violated the international right of people to self-determination. A wide array of techniques was used, like speeding the citizenship process for immigrants, getting out the vote of every Quebecer who'd recently left, massively subsidizing the Oct. 27 "love-in" rally in Montreal and many more.
A second book, by Robin Philpot and Normand Lester, Les Secrets d'Option Canada, looked deeper into the Option Canada case. This non-lucrative enterprise illegally spent millions of dollars on the referendum campaign's "no" side, bypassing Quebec's spending laws for the referendum.
The authors found documents revealing a will on the part of the conceivers of Option Canada and the federal government to break Quebec's referendum laws and to secretly inject money into a democratic political campaign.
The last development in this affair was on Jan. 13. The chief electoral officer of Quebec has announced the appointment of the Honorable Bernard Grenier, a retired Quebec Court judge, as the investigating commissioner in charge of examining certain allegations made in the book Les Secrets and the documents submitted by the authors.
I found Clost's comment that Quebec is free to secede from Canada, provided certain requirements are fulfilled, to be highly questionable.
About Chartrand's comment, I have to say that I am not that ignorant of relations between Taiwan and China. My text was not a klaxon call to shared revolution. Letters from Charles Hong (Letters, March 22, page 8) and Roger Lin (Letters, March 21, page 8) clearly show that Quebec and Taiwan don't have the same past. But domination structures have similarities through time and space.
There are so many ways to oppress people or nations that it is impossible to put them all in one book. Still, the dominant party always works to keep its edge and the underdog tries to gain on it.
The point I was trying to make goes directly in the direction of Chen's text. If a region that still is not independent wants to achieve independence, the best option is to obtain the approval of the mother country. It is obvious that neither Taiwan nor Quebec has that. The second-best option can be achieved through international mediation.
If the mother country breaks up and has no choice but to accept separation, it should be held accountable by other nations for its oppressive actions against the secessionist entity.
Neither China nor Canada is in this position right now, so the door to a relatively peaceful road to independence is closed.
Chen's proposition of promoting liberal democracy and social justice in China could also be good for Canada. It is so because, like Chen said, an old democracy like Canada refuses to agree to Quebec's unilateral demands for separation. It all boils down to humanism and justice. As long as some people think they have the right to oppress others, this kind of situation will continue.
From time to time a Gandhi will rise and free millions from their lot. Chen's demand for political parties and politicians to fulfil their moral responsibilities points in that direction.
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