Prime Minister Mulroney had the Father of Confederations words, “Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken”, in mind when he proposed the accords to reconcile with Quebec after Quebec was stabbed in the back during the “Night of the Long Knives”, where Quebec was left out of the discussion where other provinces reached an agreement on a process for patriating and amending the constitution. 2:) Why Quebec should Stay in Canada Without a doubt, the matter of the survivability of Quebec’s economy after it becomes sovereign is the most important matter. Although Quebec accounts for 19. 80% of Canada’s GDP (3:), Quebec would not have been so prosperous without the immense help of Canada, which aided Quebec by providing social services and equalization payments.
An independent Quebec would not be able to afford the services which Canada provides for them, which would leave Quebec with two options; cut services the government would provide, such as healthcare, postal services, and employment insurance, or Quebec could raise taxes which would not be popular among the people who have one of the lowest average total incomes. Quebec has the second highest GDP within Canada(4), but that does not mean it can survive without Canada.
It has the fourth lowest GDP per capita, $35,117(5), of all the provinces, which in turn allows Quebec to recieve $7. billion in 2013-14 from eqaulization payments(6), which enable less prosperous provincials governments to provide public services for the people. If Quebec did become independent the economy and the people’s standard of living would be severely impacted without the money from these equalization payments. Also impacting the people would be the social services provided by the government of Canada, such as public healthcare, which would be left behind as Quebec became autonomous.
Quebec’s economy, and the country itself, would likely collapse due to it becoming sovereign. High tariffs could be imposed by the Canadians as a method of trying to annex Quebec into Canada, or possibly by the United States of America. Alongside the lack of trade due to tariffs, Quebec would recieve less foreign business ventures due to the need for foreigners to attain new passports for this sovereign Quebec. Less foreign business ventures would mean less jobs for Quebec’s working class.
Another variable assosciated with Quebec’s success is how groups other than the French Canadians would react to Quebec becoming sovereign. Many people believe that French is spoken everywhere in all parts of Quebec. However, the leading ethnicity in Northern Quebec is that of the Aboriginals(7). Quebec’s sovereignty would cause a rift between the three major groups in Quebec; the Aboriginals, the English, and the French. A seceeded Quebec would re-intensify a once very heated aboriginal title dispute. The Aboriginals have a long, rooted history with the lands of Quebec.
The Aboriginals should have a more powerful voice in what happens to Quebec regarding their sovereignty. Aboriginal groups have not been supporitive of sovereignty, shown by the 96. 3% vote by Crees to stay in Canada during the Cree referendum(8) as well as the Cree saying that “no annexation of them or their territory to an independant Quebec should take place without their consent”(9). Aboriginals have a right to their territory, declared by section-35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which protects Aboriginals rights to land(10).
Contrary to this, the Parti Quebecois has stated in their sovereignty bill that Quebec would not change their boundaries once they have seperated from Canada(11). This lack of respect towards aboriginal title would lead to the Quebec government trying to forcibly take the land, like during the Oka Crisis. `Alongside a right to their territory, Aboriginals recieve many benefits from the Canadian government. Status Indians in Canada recieve tax exemptions and free post-secondary education.
If Quebec became sovereign, the Aboriginal people of Northern Quebec would have to either leave their homes and move to Canada, or sacrifice all the benefits offered by the Canadian government. Due to the lack of political power of the Aboriginals, they might revolt, just like during the Oka Crisis, where the Aboriginals showed that they would not bullied and would not go down without a fight. The Aboriginals would not be the only ones feeling unequal in the eyes of the country of Quebec.
The Anglophone population living in Quebec might not be able to speak English or recieve service in what used to be a Government of Canada building. Proud French speaking sovereignists, the ones leading Quebec seperatist parties, might try to discourage the practice of the English language, while even more radical seperatists would want to ban it all together. These seperatist groups who are trying to seperate Quebec from Canada still feel bitter by what the English did to them during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
The French radicalists fear that the English victory would be even more horrific if the English succeed in assimilating the French culture and language, so extremists might want to remove all possibility of that happening by banning the english language. These negative views on the English speaking popluations would drive the two groups apart. Currently, Quebec is safe-guarded from English assimilation under the Official French Language Act, which protects the French language and already restricts uses of the English language in Quebec. Conclusion
In conclusion, the matter of Quebec’s sovereignty is a very controversial topic, but we can see that the pros of Quebec staying in Canada outweigh the cons. These cons being a collapse of Quebec’s economy through trade tariffs and lack of social services, and hostility between the Aboriginal and the French, and pushing English Quebeckers and French Quebeckers even further apart. Through realizing the importance of the Confederation and John A. MacDonald’s vision of a nation united from sea to sea, one can conclude that Quebec is much better off staying in Canada.