ANOTHER VIEW; Choose wisely, Quebec

Share
Related Topics
Quebec, which has the opportunity to vote for independence today, is not Scotland - and Scotland is not Quebec. While Scotland struggles to rid itself of the baleful effects of a 300-year-old incorporating Union that leaves her powerless, Quebec already enjoys some freedom of action as part of the confederation of Canadian provinces.

Quebec is a contemporary young society, especially when set alongside Scotland, which had many centuries of history as an independent state. It was only in 1759 that it came under English-speaking control. Most important, Quebec works as a real democracy, one in which people can make their own choice about their preferred system of government. Scotland has been denied that choice for the past 16 years, even when all the opposition parties combined to support a constitutional referendum, as they did in a massive demonstration of public will at the Edinburgh European summit in December 1992.

The free exercise of democratic choice is precious and must be admired and protected. Any suggested interference is intolerable, whether from appointed royal advisers still living in the days of empire, or from unelected heads of state prepared to act on such advice. It is as well for the future of the constitutional monarchy that the proposed royal intervention was offered to an inspired disc jockey rather than to the real Canadian prime minister.

Yet for all the differences, there are some similarities between the Quebec and Scottish experience. One is the keenness with which scaremongering is used as a political tool by opponents of change. Another similarity lies in the isolationism, not of those who aspire to constitutional change, but of those who oppose it. To the constitutional dinosaurs perfection lies in the concept of the 19th-century nation state, a form of government so exalted it cannot be changed or improved.

The fact that even federal powers do not satisfy what may be the majority of Quebecers should act as a timely warning to those who oppose any constitutional change in Scotland and to those, especially in the Labour Party, who concede minimal change as a means of buying off support for real progress and power. That illustrates the actual views of people locked into 18th- or 19th-century constitutional settlements - people who are keener than ever to get out into real life.

No wonder such positive thinking frightens hidebound and decaying countries. For it tolls the death-knell of colonialism, establishment power and the old grudging and tightly controlled world order.

Choose wisely today, Quebec. The future lies with small countries prepared to work with larger associations for mutual good - not with large countries ever-fearful of democratic change.

The writer is national convenor of the Scottish National Party.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower