Great divide strikes home

Quebec referendum: Family ties and friendships break down as polls indicate a 50-50 result

HUGH WINSOR

Ottawa

Whatever the results of today's referendum on Quebec's sovereignty, the acrimonious campaign which preceded it has already opened sharp divisions in the province's society - between the old-stock French-speakers and the immigrant and English-speaking communities.

While the latest polls say the vote on whether to end the union with English-speaking Canada is too close to call, the referendum has also created bitter ruptures within the Francophone community itself, splitting families and fracturing friendships.

Even if the No side wins by a small margin (anything less than 10 per cent), it will mean that a majority of Francophones will have voted for separation but will have been frustrated by the solid pro-federalist vote by the Anglophone and immigrant (referred to here as Allophone) communities, which together account for about 20 per cent of the voting population. A Groupe Leger & Leger poll published on Saturday found 46.8 per cent of Quebeckers would vote Yes, 42.4 would vote No and the rest were undecided or would not say - results in keeping with polls published a few days earlier. But experience in Quebec elections has shown that polls tend to over-estimate support for sovereignty and for the separatist parties because federalists are more hesitant to give their opinion, fearing ostracism by the nationalists. Experience also shows that the largest portion of the undecideds vote conservatively. As a result, Leger & Leger predicted the vote as 50 Yes, 50 No.

In the final weekend of campaigning, Jacques Parizeau, the Quebec Premier, and Lucien Bouchard, who leads the Bloc Quebecois separatist party in the federal parliament, complained bitterly about what they considered unwarranted outside interference.

They were trying to neutralise the impact of a huge pro-Canada rally on Friday, when thousands of Canadians travelled to Montreal in an attempt to show that Quebeckers are loved and wanted by the rest of the country. The two national airlines offered discount "unity fares", school boards provided buses and telephone companies planned to offer free five-minute calls, some of which would have been "cold calls" to numbers taken from Quebec directories.

"Why don't they just get off our backs and let us vote?" Mr Parizeau said on Saturday.

Thousands of Canadians ignored Mr Parizeau's criticism last night to attend candle-lit vigils in most provincial capitals. Many churches outside Quebec also held special services to pray for national unity.

When the referendum was originally announced, no one expected the outcome to be as close as it now appears. Mr Parizeau has a reputation for abruptness and arrogance, had accrued little personal following, and the polls indicated 10 to 15 percentage point leads for the federalists. Facing what appeared to be certain defeat, the separatists forced the unpopular Premier to the sidelines and Mr Bouchard took over the campaign.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
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

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?