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

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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss