Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Separatism

The squabble between French and English Canada has been going on ever since that darn Plains of Abraham incident – it has defined Canada no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

Our country by no means the first or only nation to have its problems with separation issues, but it's a Canadian debate that has rooted itself at the heart of our political consciousness.

Canada's separation debate came in October of 1970 when the Front de Liberation due Quebec (FLQ), a militant wing of the separatist movement, kidnapped and killed Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. Pierre Trudeau busted out the War Measures Act and all hell broke loose for a couple of weeks. The "October Crisis" illustrated what could happen when the intense feelings concerning Quebec's sovereignty are brought to the extreme.

The concept of a sovereign Quebec has been entrenched in our political dialogue, both provincially and federally. After Meech Lake Accord failed in 1988, the rise of the Bloc Quebecois Party changed the face of Canada's parliamentary political system. The Bloc, a party founded on the principle of Quebec sovereignty, became the Canada's Official Opposition to the Liberals after the 1993 federal election, something previously unfathomable in Canada's teeter-totter past between Tory and Grit.

Quebec separation has also put populist politics to the test with referendums in 1980 and 1995. The referendum questions posed to Quebecers were as long as add/drop lineups and as confusing as a David Lynch film – which may have played a part in their defeat.

The granddaddy of Quebec separation is the former leader of the Parti Quebecois, Rene Levesque. The chain-smoking founder of the PQ had magnetic charisma, whether you were a nationalist or a separatist. For the sake of a unified Canada, let's hope his like does not come again.

–Ryan Hickman

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2002 THE GAZETTE