Places in World Most Likely to Secede Quebec Part 2

About Quebec a place in the world likely to secede from Canada, size, population, and history of conflict.

MOST LIKELY TO SECEDE

QUEBEC

In 1963, Marxist Francophones formed the Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ). The FLQ was a terrorist group that vowed to establish an independent socialist Quebec by toppling what it called Quebec's English-Canadian and U.S. capitalist regime. Throughout the decade, the FLQ exploded bombs, and in 1970 it kidnapped an English diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister. Elected prime minister in 1968, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a French-speaking native of Quebec, responded to the FLQ's kidnappings and demands by declaring martial law and sending the Canadian army into Montreal. Trudeau crushed the FLQ, but in the process he antagonized Quebec's Francophones by his heavy-handed measures. Also, he lost support for his own policy of keeping Canada united through bilingualism--the official use of both English and French throughout Canada.

In the 1970s, Quebec's Francophones gradually made economic and social progress by gaining control in such fields as small business, the civil service, and the teaching profession. At the same time in politics, Rene Levesque was establishing the Parti Quebecois, a moderate, liberal party devoted to Quebec's independence. Running on a platform of government reform and blaming the incumbent Liberal party for Quebec's economic recession, Levesque was elected prime minister of Quebec on Nov. 15, 1976. In the same election, his Parti Quebecois gained control of Quebec's legislature, winning 71 out of 110 seats.

Now in power, Levesque has toned down his call for independence, stating that a referendum will be held to decide the issue. Levesque wants to use the Parti Quebecois's control of the government to enact legislation which will make French the only accepted language of Quebec and to achieve economic benefits and control for Quebec's Francophones. The Parti Quebecois's minister of finance. Jacques Parizeau, summed up the party's program by stating, "Our intent is to do a much better job than previous governments did and pave the way for independence as we're about it."

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau wants the independence referendum to be held immediately, believing that presently a majority of Quebec's citizens oppose independence and voted for the Parti Quebecois only because it promised political reforms and protection of the French language. In February, 1977. Trudeau traveled to the U.S. to line up support against Quebec's secession. After Trudeau gave an impassioned speech for a unified Canada to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Thomas O'Neill stated, "There is no question that he won a lot of friends in Congress. We're rooting for him."

The U.S. government opposes the idea of an independent Quebec. Quebec's secession would divide and weaken Canada, forcing it to drop out of NATO and NORAD (North American Air Defense Command), which would hardly please the Pentagon. Also, American corporations have large investments in Quebec which would be threatened. In Quebec. Americans and English Canadians own almost all corporations, including General Motors, Du Pont of Canada, General Electric, Reynolds Aluminum, Seagram, Bell Telephone, and ITT, which has logging rights to an area in Quebec larger than the state of West Virginia. Many of these corporations have already begun to exert pressure on Levesque's government to abandon plans of independence. If independence comes, the corporations threaten to leave Quebec, thus wrecking its economy.

The Parti Quebecois's goal of an independent Quebec, in which the French language and culture are dominant and in which control of the economy--including the large corporations--is in the hands of Francophones, is not likely to be realized soon. Their opposition, which is composed of the Canadian and U.S. governments and a multitude of powerful international corporations, can most likely block independence, while offering a compromise such as greater autonomy for Quebec within the Canadian political structure.

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