Go-it-alone Quebeckers split over degrees of separation

The Quebec separatist movement is in disarray after a split between Jacques Parizeau, leader of the provincial government, and Lucien Bouchard, head of Bloc Qubcois, the separatist party in the federal Parliament, over what ties a sovereign Quebec should retain with Canada. They also disagree on when the independence referendum should be held.

Mr Bouchard brought the feud between the two rivals for leadership of the separatist movement into the open in a weekend speech to a Bloc Qubcois convention in Montreal.

He said that separatist purists would have to soften their stand to have any hope of persuading a majority of Quebeckers to support them. To allay the concerns of Quebeckers who are referred to as "soft sovereignists", Mr Bouchard told his party it was time to consider a new structure in which a so-called sovereign Quebec would have economic and political ties with Canada along the lines of the European Union. The Bloc also said common political institutions, including a federal parliament, would be needed to oversee shared jurisdictions and common interests.

Mr Parizeau hit back at a press conference during which he made it clear he was in charge. "There may be many leaders of the sovereignty movement ... but ... I'm the Premier of Quebec and I have a certain number of decisions to take." Legally, he commands the high ground, since it is the Quebec government and not the federal parliament that will determine the timing and wording of the referendum.

But Mr Bouchard is by far the more popular politician. He said another approach had to be taken, because the Parizeau strategy was not working.

Mr Parizeau's government attempted to drum up support for independence by setting up a series of commissions around the province to hold hearings on a draft constitution and a draft bill for the Quebec parliament which would declare the province independent.

But the commissions failed to raise support for sovereignty in the polls to above 40 per cent (60 per cent remain opposed or doubtful) and many of the people appearing before them raised questions rather than offered support.

Mr Parizeau has already postponed the referendum, originally promised for June, until autumn. Mr Bouchard has said it should be postponed until separatist forces are sure they can win, perhaps for up to four years; that is, until the end of the current Parizeau mandate. But the Premier is sticking to the commitment during last September's election campaign that a referendum would be held this year.

Mr Bouchard's change of course is recognition that hardline separatists cannot carry the province. By advocating links with Canada, he is addressing Quebeckers' worries about economic security. Mr Parizeau retorted that Mr Bouchard's proposal "won't work, because the rest of Canada would not agree to negotiate such links and, therefore, only full separation is feasible".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sports Simulator / Home Cinema Installation Technician

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue