Quebec back on the road to independence

FOR A POPULATION which, according to all the polls, will vote a separatist party into power next week, threatening the break-up of Canada, the Quebecois appear remarkably blase about their provincial elections.

In the cafes of Montreal, talk is more about the International Film Festival and the Major League baseball strike than the prospect that Jacques Parizeau and his Parti Quebecois will administer a massive defeat a week on Monday to Premier Daniel Johnson and the provincial Liberal Party, which has held power for nine years.

This is likely to happen even though Mr Parizeau, a 64- year-old economist and former finance minister, is widely disliked even within his own party.

The latest polls indicate that the Parti Quebecois will receive about 49 per cent of the vote, with about 45 per cent going to the Liberal Party. The 49 per cent is likely to translate into about 80 of the 125 seats in the Quebec national assembly, and thus control of the regional government.

Surprisingly, the same polls which predict victory for the Parti Quebecois in the provincial election also show a steady erosion of support for independence, the centrepiece of the Parti Quebecois manifesto: 60 per cent of those who say they will vote for the Parti Quebecois are not in favour of sovereignty or independence.

All the same, Mr Parizeau has said that he will consider an election victory a mandate to take steps towards making Quebec a separate state. His government will hold a referendum within 10 months, and the Parti Quebecois has promised to take no radical steps towards independence until it wins a clear victory in that referendum.

The best bet is that a referendum will fail, just as a previous one promoted by the Parti Quebecois - when last in power - failed in 1980. Meanwhile, Mr Parizeau has promised to make life difficult for the federal government. He has said he will withdraw Quebec's co-operation from a range of social and economic programmes.

The Parti Quebecois will be counting on help from the 53 separatist MPs, elected to the federal parliament from Quebec at the general election last year, to build support for separatism in Quebec by inducing over-reaction in the rest of Canada.

Despite the promise of a referendum, the Canadian business community is concerned that the uncertainty created by the election of a separatist government and the turmoil of a referendum will damage the fragile economic recovery.

A group of prominent Quebec businessmen issued a plea this week to Mr Parizeau to delay any parliamentary resolution until he receives a clear mandate for independence in a referendum.

According to a University of Montreal political scientist, Stephane Dion, the Quebecois are playing off their provincial government against the federal government in Ottawa, and reaping extra benefits for their province as a result.

'Support for the Liberals has dropped because the campaign has shown the weakness of Premier Johnson,' he said. 'Support for sovereignty has dropped because the campaign has shown the weakness of the independence option.' Montreal humourist Yvonne Deschamps put it more succinctly: 'What the Quebecois want is an independent Quebec in a strong and united Canada.'

News
people
Sport
Newcastle players celebrate, Mario Balotelli scores, Alan Pardew and Brendan Rodgers
footballNewcastle vs Liverpool , Arsenal vs Burnley, Chelsea vs QPR and Everton vs Swansea
News
i100Amazing Amazon review bomb
Arts and Entertainment
The Spice Girls' feminism consisted of shouting 'girl power' and doing peace signs in latex catsuits
musicWhat is it? You know what you want it to be...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
News
Moss and Grimshaw arrive at the party
peopleKate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Nick Grimshaw at Jonathan Ross's Halloween party
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
News
i100
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
Travel
travelPurrrfect jet comes to Europe
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch attends the London premiere of his new film The Imitation Game
people He's not as smart as his characters
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

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities