Saturday, November 26, 2005

Canada: No-confidence motion for government good news for Quebec's separatists

Kash Kheirkhah

On Monday, Canada's Parliament will vote on a motion of no-confidence backed by the three opposition parties which could topple Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government soon. If the government falls, Canadian will have an election on their hands in January 2006, preceded by the hasty campaigning that will take place over the Christmas and new Year Holidays.

Liberals' defeat in the next election, whenever that may be, will be more than welcoming news to separatists in Quebec. A conservative government in Ottawa with no seats in Quebec coupled with the ascent of a young charismatic Andre' Boisclair to the head of Parti Quebecois and the low approval ratings of Quebec's Liberal Premier Jean Charest will most probably lead PQ into the next election victory and even beyond that, to the eventual independence of the province of Quebec.

Mr Boisclair is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Unlike Jacques Parizeau--Quebec's former premier who, in his 1995 referendum concession speech, offensively said his referendum had been beaten by money and the "ethnic" votes--Mr Boisclair has actively sought the participation of ethnic minorities in his drive to lead the PQ, and, in his victory speech, assured Anglophones that their rights would be protected if Quebec became a separate nation. In fact, the new generation of immigrants who have been schooling here in Quebec no longer think any differently than the native French Canadians who believe in sovereignty as a matter of pride.

But for me as an immigrant who currently lives in Quebec but loves being part of a large, economically successful and culturally diverse country such as Canada the sovereignty talk is very unfortunate. I believe the notion of "independence" for Quebec, whose unique blend of European and North American life styles and vibrant cultural diversity contribute immensely to the unsurpassed quality of Canada, is simply rejected by the underlying principles that have turned Canada into a beautiful mosaic of more than a 100 different ethnicities and cultures, each enriching rather than weakening the best country in the world.

If Mr Martin's government survives Monday's no-confidence vote or the next election, it should help Quebec's Liberals regain their momentum by underlining to the Quebecers Liberal party's concrete ideas for the future against Mr Boisclair's sugar-coated cliches of the past and the separatist mentality which seeks the solution to all Quebec's economic, social and political problems in the fallacy of "secession".