Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A Federalist Perspective

A Federalist Perspective

It is not hard to construct an elegant and moderate case for the inevitability of Quebec’s secession from Canada and to argue that such an outcome mirrors America’s setting aside of the colonial yoke and move to democratic self-determination.

But to understand the issue from the point of view of most Canadians and most Quebecers, imagine that a Spanish-speaking state larger than California and Texas put together, with a population of just less than 70 million has remained in the American union after Spanish rule was banished. Imagine that America as a whole has sanctioned Spanish-language schools and Spanish working and official languages, and ensured equal opportunity for Spanish speaking public servants and young people. In fact, the president of the United States is frequently elected from this region. Imagine, lastly, that a hardcore, nationalist minority wants this region to leave the union and become independent, provided it can retain full use of American currency and access to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFIA). This hardcore minority does not give up. The moderate Spanish-speaking territorial majority cannot figure out how to make the silliness stop, despite winning two referenda on the issue of independence. That is what the secession issue would look like in an American context.

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