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The Politics of Nationalism in Quebec

  • Hudson Meadwell (a1)


The central argument of this article is straightforward. (1) The contemporary Quebec nationalist movement has moved through phases of mobilization, demobilization, and remobilization. (2) Interpretations of Quebec nationalism do not successfully explain all three phases. (3) A new model of mobilization can provide a more satisfactory account. The goal is to construct a model that is useful for all three phases and that can say something about nationalism and political mobilization more generally.



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1 See Tiryakian, Edward A., “Quebec, Wales and Scotland: Three Nations in Search of a State,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 21, no. 1–2 (1980).

2 See Handler, Richard, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988); Coleman, William D., The Independence Movement in Quebec, 1945–1980 (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1984); Levine, Marc, The Reconquest of Montreal (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990); Plourde, Michel, La politique linguistique du Québec, 1977–1987 (Quebec's linguistic policy, 1977–1987) (Quebec: Institut qué;bécois de recherche sur la culture, 1988).

3 See Bélanger, Yves and Fournier, Pierre, L'entreprise québécoise (The Québécois enterprise) (Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1987); Niosi, Jorge, La bourgeoisie canadienne (The Canadian bourgeoisie) (Montreal: Editions Boréal, 1980); Vaillancourt, François, Langue et disparités de statut économique au Québec 1970 et 1980 (Language and economic status disparities in Quebec, 1970–1980) (Quebec: Gouvernement du Québec, 1988).

4 This section draws on Meadwell, Hudson, “Forms of Cultural Mobilization: Quebec and Brittany, 1870Comparative Politics 17 (July 1).

5 Hechter, Michael, Internal Colonialism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975).

6 Internal colonialism is both too strong and too weak an explanation for ethnic mobilization. Too strong, because there are cases with significant nationalist movements that are not internal colonies, such as Catalonia. Too weak, because there are cases with weaker movements that are internal colonies, such as Brittany during the Third Republic.

7 Ragin, Charles C., “Ethnic Political Mobilization: The Welsh Case,” American Sociological Review 44 (August 1979); Leifer, Eric, “Competing Models of Political Mobilization: The Role of Ethnic Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 87 (January 1980).

8 Vallières, Pierre, Nègres blancs d'Amérique (White Niggers of America) (Montreal: Editions Parti Pris, 1968).

9 McRoberts, Kenneth and Posgate, Dennis, Quebec: Social Change and Political Crisis, 2d ed. (Toronto: McLelland and Stewart, 1980), 144–54.

10 Bereciartu, Gurutz Jàurequin, Ideologia y estrategia politica de ETA, 2d ed. (ETA's ideology and political strategy) (Madrid: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 1985), 238–63.

11 Lafont, Robert, La révolution règionaliste (The regionalist revolution) (Paris: Gallimard, 1967).

12 As in some other cases, as well, this orientation was associated with the use of violence in the 1960s, which culminated in the kidnapping of a provincial cabinet minister and British diplomat in 1970.

13 Dofny, Jacques, “Ethnic Cleavages, Labor Aristocracy, and Nationalism in Quebec,” in Tiryakian, Edward A. and Rogowski, Ronald, eds., New Nationalisms of the Developed West (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1985).

14 Fenwick, Rudi, “Social Change and Ethnic Nationalism: An Historical Analysis of the Separatist Movement in Quebec,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 23, no. 2 (1981); McRoberts and Posgate (fn.9).

15 A “segmented” division of labor refers here to the concentration of an ethnic group in a narrow range of activities, while a “pillar” refers to a division of labor in which the group spans a broad range of activities. See Rogowski, Ronald, Rational Legitimacy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974); and Meadwell, Hudson, “Ethnic Nationalism and Collective Choice Theory,” Comparative Political Studies 22 (July 1989).

16 Pinard, Maurice and Hamilton, Richard, “Motivational Dimensions in the Quebec Independence Movement: A Test of a New Model,” in Research in Social Movements Conflicts and Change (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI, 1986).

17 Guindon, Hubert, Quebec Society (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988); Montcalm, Mary Beth, “Québécois Nationalism in Comparative Perspective,” in Gagnon, Alain G., ed., Quebec: State and Society (Toronto: Methuen, 1984); Bourque, Gilles and Legaré, Anne, Le Québec: la question nationale (Quebec: The national question) (Paris: Maspero, 1979).

18 Breton, André, “Economics of Nationalism,” Journal of Political Economy 72 (August 1964); Hechter, Michael, “Nationalism as Group Solidarity,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 10 (October 1987). Survey evidence suggests that the relationship between public sector employment and political preferences has varied over time in the Francophone population. Blais and Nadeau report a positive relationship between public sector employment and support for the 1980 referendum and for the Parti québécois in the 1981 election. Blais and Dion, using a 1985 survey, find no significant difference between public and private sector employees and support for sovereignty. A likely cause of this change was the conflict between the PQ and public sector employees over wage levels in 1981–82. More recently Cloutier, Guay, and Latouche present survey evidence that indicates a sectoral effect on support for independence in the immediate pre-Meech Lake period (spring 1990). This relationship disappears because after the failure of Meech Lake, independence gains more support among private sector employees than among public sector employees. See André Blais and Richard Nadeau, “La clientèle du Parti québécois: évolution de la clientèle de 1970 à 1981,” and idem, “La clientèledu ‘oui, ’” both in Crête, Jean, ed., Comportement electoral au Québec (Chicoutimi, Quebec: Gaëtan Morin, 1984); Blais, André and Dion, Stéphane, “Les employés du secteur public sontils différents?Revue Française de Science Politique 37 (February 1987); Cloutier, Edouard, Guay, Jean H., and Latouche, Daniel, the virage: l'évolution de l'opinion publique au Québecdepuis 1960 (Montreal: Québec-Amérique, 1992).

19 Bourque, Gilles and Laurin-Frenette, Nicole, “La structure nationale québécoise” (The national structure of Quebec), Socialisme québécois 2122 (April 1971).

20 Pelletier, Richard, “Nationalisme et étatisme au Québec dans les années 1960” (Nationalism and statism in Quebec during the 1960s), Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 7 (Autumn 1980), 346.

21 The work of Pinard and Hamilton is an important exception. See, e.g., Pinard, Maurice and Hamilton, Richard, “The Class Bases of the Quebec Independence Movement: Conjectures and Evidence,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 7 (January 1984).

22 Ibid., 44.

23 This pattern distinguishes the PQ from the provincial Liberal Party, which had much lower proportions of intellectuals as candidates and deputies in the 1970s. See Pinard, Maurice and Hamilton, Richard, “The Leadership of Intellectuals in Traditional Parties: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives,” in Gagnon, Alain G. and Tanguay, A. Brian, eds., Canadian Parties in Transition (Scarborough, Ontario: Nelson Canada, 1989), 294.

24 Bourdieu, Pierre, Ce que parler veut dire: l'économie des échanges linguistiques (What speaking means: The economy of linguistic exchanges) (Paris: Fayard, 1982).

25 Gagnon, Alain G. and Montcalm, Mary Beth, Quebec beyond the Quiet Revolution (Toronto: Nelson, 1989); Bélanger and Fournier (fn. 3).

26 Gagnon and Montcalm (fn. 25); Brooks, Stephen and Gagnon, Alain G., Social Scientists and Politics in Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1988), 69.

27 French, Richard D., “Governing without Business: The Parti Québécois in Power” in Murray, Vera V., ed., Theories of Business-Government Relations (Toronto: Trans-Canada Press, 1985).

28 For an analysis of the politics of free trade in Quebec, see Pierre Martin, “Free Trade and Party Politics in Quebec,” in Charles F. Doran and Gregory P. Marchildon, eds., Trade and Party: Essays in the Politics of Trade in North America (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, forthcoming).

29 Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989); Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities (London: Verso Books, 1983); Horowitz, Donald L., Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985); Mayo, Patricia, The Roots of Identity (London: Allen Lane, 1974).

30 Adamson, Walter L., Hegemony and Revolution (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980).

31 Wellhofer, Spencer, “Strategies for Party Organization and Voter Mobilization: Britain, Norway and Argentina,” Comparative Political Studies 12 (July 1979).

32 Horowitz (fn. 29), 132. For a more detailed discussion that takes into account the different strategic structures of secessionist movements in the developing world and in the developed West, see Meadwell, Hudson, “Transitions to Independence and Ethnic Nationalist Mobilization,” in Booth, William James, James, Patrick, and Meadwell, Hudson, eds., Politics and Rationality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

33 Calhoun, Craig, “The Problem of Identity in Collective Action,” in Huber, Joan, ed., Macro-Micro Linkages in Sociology (Newbury Park and London: Sage Publications, 1991), 51ff. As I hope is clear, I am reluctant to accept this interpretation of the consequences of identity. I have suggested elsewhere that this argument is quasi-functionalist: identity is needed when the barriers to change are so high that they cannot be surmounted without it. See Meadwell (fn. 32). I think the reasoning here is dubious. There is a further conceptual problem. I have suggested that institutions and identity are dual moments of counterhege-mony. Much of the discussion about identity proceeds as if collective identity can be identified independently of the institutional infrastructure of the group. I prefer to think of identity assimply a restatement at a different conceptual level of patterns of group organization and structuration. Identity then becomes a principle of representation in a symbolic field, rather than an independent cause of, or reason for, action. Perhaps we need two-place predicates that include just institutions and practices, rather than three-place predicates extended to include identity.

34 Gunther, Richard, Sani, Giacomo, and Shabad, Goldie, Spain after Franco (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 360; Lancaster, Thomas D., “Comparative Nationalism: The Basques in Spain and France,” European Journal of Political Research 15, no. 5 (1987).

35 Le Devoir, April 9, 1991, p. A3.

36 Clarke, Harold D., “The Parti Québécois and Sources of Partisan Realignment in Contemporary Quebec,” Journal of Politics 45 (February 1983); Pammett, Jon et al., “Political Support and Voting Behavior in the Quebec Referendum,” in Kornberg, Alan and Clarke, Harold D., eds., Political Support in Canada: The Crisis Years (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1983).

37 Blais, André and Nadeau, Richard, “To Be or Not to Be Sovereignist: Quebeckers' Perennial Dilemma,” Canadian Public Policy 18 (March 1992).

38 Johnston, Richard and Blais, André, “Meech Lake and Mass Politics: The ‘Distinct Society’ Clause,” Canadian Public Policy 14 (Supplement, 1989); Bashevkin, Sylvia, “Solitudes in Collision: Pan-Canadian and Quebec Nationalist Attitudes in the Late 1970s,” Comparative Political Studies 23 (April 1990).

39 This relative absence of repression has meant that one source of grievance, rooted in the reaction to repression, is less relevant in Quebec. In other cases, authoritarian regimes providea common focus and target that foster a basis for solidarity among diverse kinds of dissent.At the same time, the democratic regime in Canada opens up space for the expression of group identity and nationalist demands. In this pattern, political mobilization in the public sphere is easier, but there is likely greater division within the group over the degree of decentralization to demand.

40 The mixed effects of federalism can also be seen in the Québécois reaction to the failure of the Meech Lake Accord. The symbolic politics of this issue engaged different elements of collective identity. On the one hand, the failure represented an unwillingness on the part of many Canadians to recognize the distinctiveness of Quebec within Canada. On the otherhand, it represented to Québécois the rejection of Quebec's contribution to Canada. See Taylor, Charles, “Shared and Divergent Values,” in Watts, Ronald and Brown, David, eds., Options for a New Canada (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1991).

41 Bergeron, Gérard and Pelletier, Réjean, L'État du Québec en devenir (The evolving Quebec state) (Montreal: Boréal Express, 1980). There are several interesting similarities between the project of modernization associated with the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and economic modernization in postwar France. Both projects were tied to industrial strategies that were basically statist, growth-oriented, and characterized by increasing sectoral concentration and support for superfirms (“national champions”). Both were dependent on policy networks that linked bureaucrats and business. And both projects have involved important changes in foreign economic policy as economic openness came to be accepted in each case.

42 The interest in establishing provincial jurisdiction in the North was expressed by a provincial cabinet minister prior to the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. “The Agreement has enabled us to accomplish two great tasks to which the government committed itself. It enables us to fulfill our obligations to the native peoples who inhabit our North and to affirm finally Quebec's presence through its entire territory.” Ciaccia, John, Opening Remarks to the Standing Parliamentary Committee of the National Assembly of Quebec convened to examine the Agreement with the James Bay Crees and the lnuit of Quebec prior to its signature, November, 1975, in The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (Quebec: Editeur Officiel du Québec, 1976).

43 Martin Masse, “Identités collectives et civilisation: pour une vision non-nationaliste d'un Québec indépendant” (Collective identity and civilization: For a non-nationalist vision of anindependent Quebec) (Book manuscript, Montreal, 1991); Larose, Jacques, “Crise de glu de la spécificité Québécoise” (Quebec specificity in a trap), in Larose, , ed., La petite noirceur (The little darkness) (Montreal: Boréal, 1987), 8591. Quebec is undergoing some of the changes associated with the transition from “old” to “new” politics—to use the stylized language of work on new social movements. The politics of difference plays itself out in interesting ways in Quebec because of the nationalist context. On this transition, see, e.g., Kriesi, Hans Peter, “New Social Movements and the New Class in the Netherlands,” American Journal of Sociology 94 (March 1989); Offe, Claus, “New Social Movements: Challenging the Boundaries of Institutional Politics,” Social Research 52 (Winter 1985).

44 Mény, Yves, “Decentralization in Socialist France,” West European Politics 7 (January 1984); Leonardi, Robert, Nanetti, Rafaella Y., and Putnam, Robert O., “Devolution as a Political Process: The Case of Italy, Publius 11 (Winter 1981).

45 David, Hélène, “La grève et le bon Dieu” (The strike and the good lord), in Harvey, Fernand, ed., Le mouvement ouvrier au Québec (The worker's movement in Quebec) (Montreal: Boréal, 1980).

46 In 1949 there was a wildcat strike that lasted five months in the asbestos mines at Asbestos and Thetford. It engaged the attention and support of a group of intellectuals and trade union activists who would later become key players in the French Canadian political class. They included André Laurendeau, an editor at Le Devoir in the late 1940s, Gérard Pelletier, the reporter for Le Devoir who covered the strike, Jean Marchand, secretary-general of Conféderation des travailleurs catholiques du Canada, and Pierre-Elliott Trudeau, who had recently returned from doing graduate work at the London School of Economics and Ecole des sciences politiques in Paris. The strike was a major impetus for the founding of Cité Libre in 1950, the forum for a liberal critique of traditional French Canadian nationalism. Another line of criticism, expressed for example by Laurendeau, sought to disengage nationalism from the control of the Catholic church (at least from the conservative elements within the church) and from Premier Duplessis. See Behiels, Michael D., Prelude to Quebec's Quiet Revolution (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1985).

47 The federal Bloc québécois, composed primarily of former Conservative members of Parliament from Quebec, may well be a temporary, unstable phenomenon created by the failure of Meech Lake. The party is unlikely to be able to create an activist base of support where local politics are centered in the province, and it may draw support only as a protest vote. This does not mean, however, that it could not have leverage in a hung parliament after the next federal election.

48 Geekie, Jack and Levy, Roger, “Devolution and the Tartanisation of the Labour Party, Parliamentary Affairs 42 (July 1989).

49 Parizeau, Jacques, “Interview,” in Riggs, Austin R. and Velk, Tom, eds., Canadian-American Free Trade: Historical, Political and Economic Dimensions (Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1987),

50 Le Devoir, July 15, 1978; La Presse, January 12, 1981.

51 Tremblay, Réjean, Indépendance et marché commun Québec-Etats-Unis (Independence and a Quebec-United States common market) (Quebec: Editions du Jour, 1970); idem, “Souveraineté, marché commun, libre-échange” (Sovereignty, common market, free trade), L'Action Nationale 81 (January 1991).

52 Boisvert, Michel, Les implications économiques de la souveraineté-association (The economic implications of sovereignty-association) (Montreal: Les presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1980).

53 Meadwell (fn. 4); Roby, Yves, Les Québécois et les investissements américains, 1918—1929 (The Québécois and American investments, 1918–1929) (Quebec: Presses de l'Université Laval, 1976).

54 Trofimenkoff, Susan M., The Dream of Nation (Toronto: Gage, 1983).

55 Montpetit, Edouard, La Conquête économique (The economic conquest) (Montreal: Editions Bernard Valiquette, 1938), 1:63–65; Levitt, Joseph, Henri Bourassa and the Golden Calf; The Social Program of the Nationalists of Québec, 1900–1914 (Ottawa: Editions de l'Université d'Ottawa, 1969), 41.

56 Nationale, Assemblée, débats, Journal des, Commission sur l'Avenir Politique et Constitu tionnel du Québec (Commission on the political and constitutional future of Quebec) (Bélan-ger-Campeau Commission), November 1990, 3:140.

57 Ibid., December 11, 1990, 18:1261.

58 This is implied in the way Parizeau places the issue of free trade in the context of a referendum: “Once a free trade area in North America has been set up, no premier of other provinces could come to Québec in the midst of a referendum campaign and say, ‘If you vote this way, no commercial deal with us.’ I suppose we'd say, ‘It really doesn't matter, old boy.’” Parizeau (fn. 49).

59 Deposition from the Coopérative fédérée du Québec (Federal cooperative of Queb Commission sur l'Avenir Politique et Constitutionnel du Québec, December 11, 1990, 18:128

60 Ibid., December 11, 1990, 18:1297. Deposition from the Association provinciale de dustrie du bois ouvré du Québec (Provincial association of the woodworking industr Quebec).

61 The Globe and Mail Report on Business, April 1991. There is some reason for cau because the support for sovereignty-association is likely inflated. The survey polls subscri to Affaires Plus, a business magazine. Not all subscribers are businesspersons, and many have owned small businesses.

62 La Presse, November 24, 1991, p. A9; La Presse, November 23, 1991, p. A2.

63 Most importantly, this evidence probably does not pick up the full effects of production for the American market. However, four of the associations are large and diversified enough for many of their members to have American markets. A more detailed analysis would take into account the fact that some of these associations are sectoral, while others are multi-sectoral.

64 McCallum, John and Greene, Christopher, Parting as Friends: The Economic Consequences for Quebec (Toronto: C. D. Howe Institute, 1991).

65 Tsebelis, George, Nested Games: Rational Choice in Comparative Politics (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990).

66 I have not discussed the consequences of varying levels of difference between Y and some preferred level of support. So I would argue that the model can hold at different levels of difference. The recruitment history of the organization and the history of the stability of political preferences in the group may be more important than the size of the difference.Even when the gap between Y and some target level of support is large, purists may resist ideological change (and carry the day within the organization) when the history of the group is punctuated by periods of preference volatility and dealignment. When the gap is small, even purists may tolerate some recruitment based on the modification of the political program, when the organization has had a relatively constant level of support for some time and the group has demonstrated relatively stable political preferences.

67 This result assumes no protest vote for the party in Y*. This could be taken into account with no loss in generality.

68 Murray, Vera, Le Parti québécois: de la formation à la prise du pouvoir (The Parti québécois: From formation to the seizure of power) (Montreal: Hurtubise: HMH, 1976).

69 Hamilton, Richard and Pinard, Maurice, “The Quebec Independence Movement,” in Williams, Colin H., ed., National Separatism (Vancouver and London: University of British Columbia Press, 1982), 219. See also the comprehensive review of polls and survey results in Cloutier, Guay, and Latouche (fn.18).

70 Hamilton and Pinard (fn. 69), 211, Table 1.

71 Levy, Roger, Scottish Nationalism at the Crossroads (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990).

72 Meadwell, Hudson, “Nationalism and Rationality” (Manuscript, McGill University, 1993).

73 Monahan, Patrick, Meech Lake: The Inside Story (Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, 1991), 267.

74 Ibid., 20; Fournier, Pierre, A Meech Lake Post-Mortemy, trans. Fischman, Sheila (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1991), 4; Courchene, Thomas J., “Forever Amber,” in Smith, David E., MacKinnon, Peter, and Courtney, James C., eds., After MeechLake: Lessons for the Future (Saskatoon, Sask.: Fifth House Publishers, 1991), 33.

75 Gagnon and Montcalm (fn. 25), 158.

76 Cairns, Alan C., “The Charter, Interest Groups, Executive Federalism and Constitutional Reform,” in Smith, MacKinnon, and Courtney (fn. 74), 16.

77 Gagnon and Montcalm (fn. 25), 159.

78 Russell, Peter H., Knopff, Rainer, and Morton, Ted, Federalism and the Charter (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1989), 708.

79 Laforest, Guy, “Interpreting the Political Heritage of André Laurendeau,” in Smith, MacKinnon, and Courtney (fn. 74), 104.

80 Cairns (fn.76).

81 The 1982 Constitution Act allowed withdrawal with compensation only with respect to eduation and “other cultural matters.” The Meech Lake Accord would have extended this possibility to all jurisdictional transfers from the provinces to the federal government. Imbeau, Louis, “Voting Games and Constitutional Decision: The 1981 Constitutional Negotiation in Canada,” Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 28 (March 1990), 93.

82 For Quebec's point of view on the November 1981 constitutional talks, see Morin, Claude, Lendemains piégés: du referendum à la nuit des longs couteaux (Ambushed future: From the referendum to the night of the long knives) (Montreal: Borélal, 1988).

83 This point needs more discussion than can be provided here. One interpretation suggests that the Gang of Eight broke apart because Quebec had no sincere interest in an agreement. When the other provinces in this group had an opportunity to make a deal that would produce an agreement, they took it because they preferred a deal to no agreement at all. Another interpretation suggests that Quebec had a sincere interest in the proposal of the Gang of Eight but was unable to convince the others of their sincerity; Imbeau (fn. 81). The argument for insincerity on the part of Quebec in the first interpretation is the argument for uncertainty among the other provinces in the second interpretation. Both depend on the fact that the Quebec government supported sovereignty-association. This can account for both why they were insincere, preferring no agreement at all, and why it was difficult to convince others that they were sincere.

84 Monahan (fn. 73), 26.

85 Since this limited veto arose in a section expanding the number of items requiring unanimous consent, it meant that the other provinces would have had the same veto as Quebec.

86 The likelihood of ratification declined sharply in December 1988, when Bourassa used the notwithstanding clause to override a Supreme Court decision that held that provincial legislation on public language use violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

87 Monahan (fn. 73), 27.

88 The aboriginal peoples are now key participants in Canadian constitutional politics.Generally, they opposed both the “distinct society” definition of Quebec in the absence of similar recognition for their communities and the language of the accord that referred to French-and English-speaking Canadians as “a fundamental characteristic of Canada.” They have also exploited the use by Quebec of the right to self-determination as a legitimating convention by broadening the extension of this right to their communities. Aboriginal politics played a very direct role in the failure of Meech Lake. In the process of ratification in Manitoba, the government needed unanimous consent in the legislature to hold a series of public hearings. A native member of the provincial legislature voted against the motion to send the issue to a committee for public hearings.

89 La Presse, June 21, 1990, pp. A1–A2.

90 Ibid., November 26, 1990, pp. A1–A2.

91 Le Devoir, April, 1991.

92 Globe and Mail, April 22, 1991, pp. A1–A5.

93 Bourassa is required to hold a referendum by October 26, 1992, and must table a question in the National Assembly by September 9, 1992, either on Quebec sovereignty or constitutional offers from the rest of Canada. A postponement would require debate and a vote in the National Assembly. It is clear that Bourassa would prefer a referendum on constitutional proposals from Canada.

94 However, as the recession deepened since the failure of Meech Lake, Parizeau acknowledged in an interview in the late spring of 1992 that he would prefer a referendum “in a year or two,” because he expected the Quebec economy to be in an upturn by that time. He was confident enough, however, to have supported the circulation of a provincewide petition demanding a referendum as scheduled for the fall of 1992, as a means of continuing to pressure Bourassa. There is therefore an interesting dilemma built into the time horizons of federalists and indépendantistes as they consider the joint effects of the failure of Meech Lake and the economic recession: each of these factors pushes them in different directions. For the federalists, an ideal time for a referendum would be long enough after Meech Lake for its symbolic effects to be weakened, but not so late that the referendum is held in a period of economic expansion.

95 If a referendum on sovereignty is held and sovererignty is supported, Bourassa may have a fallback. He may be able to accept this statement of the attitudes of Québécois and argue that the provincial Liberal Party is simply the best choice of party to lead Quebec (part of the way) out of confederation and also the most suitable party of government in a politically independent Quebec.

96 As of August 3, 1992, it appears that the federal government will present a constitutional package designed to satisfy a wide range of territorial and nonterritorial interests in the early fall of 1992, and there is a strong possibility that a national referendum on these constitutional reforms will follow. Aside from the question of Quebec's status, the constitutional proposals include a reformed Senate (designed to placate the Western provinces), a commitment to aboriginal self-government, and a social charter.

97 Le Devoir, July 17, 1990, p. 2; Le Devoir, February 2, 1991, p. 1.

98 Interview with Liberal youth activist, March 1991.

99 Le Devoir, June 30, 1990, p. A1; Le Devoir, November 17, 1990, p. A3.

100 In an April 1991 poll commissioned by the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 76 percent of the sample of respondents from the rest of Canada said “no” to the question, “Should the rest of Canada agree to give Quebec some powers that the other provinces would not have if that's what it takes to keep Quebec within Canada?”

101 Cairns, Alan C., “The Charter, Interest Groups, Executive Federalism and Constitutional Reform,” in Smith, MacKinnon, and Courtney (fn. 74); and idem, “Political Science, Ethnicity, and the Constitution,” in Shugarman, David P. and Whitaker, Reg, eds., Federalism and Political Community (Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1989).

102 Meadwell (fn. 32).

103 The final draft of this article was completed on August 3, 1992.

* The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of FCAR (Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l'aide à la recherche). Many people have commented on this paper. I would like to thank particularly Andrè Blais, Robert Harmsen, Michael Lustzig, Chris Manfredi, Pierre Martin, Jeremy Moon, and Maurice Pinard. I also thank Catherine Fieschi and Michel Goyer for their research assistance.

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The Politics of Nationalism in Quebec

  • Hudson Meadwell (a1)


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