|Quebec 1867- Present|
The student uprising has dominated the media to the point of blocking out all other newsworthy events and if you are like me, it's getting to the point where you don't even want to discuss the subject, it's too maddening.
Ten years ago, if you'd ask me about partition (the dissolution of Quebec into separate states) I would have laughed at the idea and labelled the very thought, foolishly daft.
Today, as events have evolved, it makes perfect sense, absolutely perfect sense.
Of course, partition is a hard concept to get one's head around and on first glance it looks messy and unworkable, but a closer study reveals that it's a pretty good solution to the language and cultural impasse that dogs modern Quebec.
No doubt, sovereigntists hate the idea of partition and foam at the mouth at the very mention of the idea.
They live in a world where the borders of Quebec are inviolate, but a glance at the maps on the right show that such is not the reality of our history.
Quebec's borders have never been written in stone and can change just as easily as in the past.
But partition isn't and shouldn't be a concept that is an anathema to sovereigntists, it is perhaps the only viable option for them to achieve their goal of an independent Quebec.
Today, the sovereigntist's best case scenario, where Anglos conveniently abandon their homes and communities and move to Canada en masse after a successful YES vote, fails to take into account the old Chinese proverb which reminds us to; "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it"
While sovereigntists will bid these federalist emigrants good riddance, the effect of a massive migration would be financially destabilizing and more importantly economically and politically devastating to Montreal.
If Canada decides to play hardball and makes an enticing financial offer to Quebec federalists to abandon Quebec, (like way back when with the United Empire Loyalists,) combined with generous resettlement incentives for Quebec companies, it would be the coup de grace for the city.
The mass exit of Anglos and Ethnics towards greener pastures in Canada begs the critical question; What will remain of Montreal, when the city is depopulated?
Sovereigntists pretend that they don't need Anglos and that may be true in the Saguenay or Abitibi, but not in Montreal.
If only half of the 51% of people that don't have French as a first language, leave Montreal, the disaster that awaits the city is guaranteed.
That, plus the many businesses and head offices that will follow the refugees down the 401, will lead to half empty skyscrapers, restaurants, malls and too little business for the retail industry.
With homes and commercial property unsellable because of a glut, the city will be set on a course of ruin, with the massive foreclosures of unsellable homes and the shutting of commercial establishments on a scale recently seen in the Untied States' worst hit communities.
Can't happen?.....look at Detroit.
Even if many potential emigrants stay and test the waters of an independent Quebec, the collapsing economy and job market will drive folks to leave after a few short months and that includes many francophones.
Of course during this period of destabilization, who will be blamed for the debacle?
Anglos and Ethnics of course, leading to a snowball effect driving even more out of the
There is no other forecast that is more likely and I've debated this with sovereigntists over the years.
I have never heard a reasonable alternative to this doomsday scenario.
The worst of the suggestions offered, was that a confident and independent Quebec would make a generous offer for the anglos to stay, including INCREASED language rights.
.....Really? Are you kidding me?
The truth is that for Anglos and ethnics the only choice remaining would be to give up their English culture and assimilate or emigrate to Canada.
Readers can do the math.
For a new Quebec government, Montreal would become a financial albatross instead of a shining jewel.
The fragile new country would be plunged into a monumental financial and social crisis at the onset, not a comforting scene.
For sovereigntists, losing Montreal to partition may be unacceptable, but the truth is that one way or the other, they will lose it anyways.
When sovereigntists understand that it is not in their interest, economically or socially to include the island of Montreal in the independence plan, partition becomes a perfect solution.
And when will they realize this?............Not until the next referendum loss.
When that happens, there won't be talk of 'spitting in their hands and starting all over again" as Mr. Parizeau suggested after the 1995 referendum loss.
Sovereigntists may be dreamers, but are not particularly stupid and waiting another fifteen years, for what would very likely be another referendum loss, won't be an option they'd likely want to entertain.
For dedicated sovereigntists, it would be time to think about the impossible, the partition option, no matter how unpalatable.
It partition happens, it won't be the Anglos and Ethnics that institute it. We are just too disorganized to mount any sort of partition plan on our own.
Partition will happen when the majority of Quebec francophones want it.
Simply put, when sovereigntists realize and accept that partition is their only hope of independence, it will become a viable option.
My partition plan, which I shall set out here before you, is based on Quebec ceding the entire island of Montreal, which will become the eleventh province (then the tenth, after Quebec independence.)
The reason I chose the island of Montreal alone, is because partition is not about destroying Quebec by grabbing as much territory as possible, it's a compromise that leaves Quebec almost intact and with a large metropolitan area (Laval) in central Quebec to replace Montreal.
The island of Montreal has clearly definable borders and enough land mass to provide federalists with a home.
Many of you have talked about a land bridge to Canada, but it is entirely unworkable and too messy.
At any rate the 'land bridge' idea just isn't supported demographically and creating a hodgepodge of off-island areas that are to remain 'Canadian' is just unworkable and undesirable.
Unlike the last two referendums which made losers out of half the population, partition can actually make us all into winners, with each political entity going its separate way à la Czech and Slovakian Republics, whose 'Velvet Divorce' is the blueprint for an amicable breakup.
The important element in the dissolution of Czechoslovakia is that both parties were in favor of the breakup and ready to make the difficult compromises necessary to make it work.
In my partition scenario, neither side will be perfectly happy and get everything it wants, but rather enough to make the deal acceptable to both.
The Island of Montreal is a clear and defined geographical area, with long roots to and attachments to Canada.
Those Quebecers who want to remain in Canada, in a truly bilingual province, can move to Montreal, those that wish to remain in Quebec can move out.
|Concentration of anglophones around Montreal Island|
To my mind, this is really just about the only Partition plan that makes sense, politically, socially and geographically.
The new 'province' of Montreal would have about two million inhabitants, (fourth largest province in Canada) give or take. I imagine that the population would go up by several hundreds of thousands of people, but that's just a hunch.
A place where people could live in one country and work in the other and where free movement of goods and services would be guaranteed to citizens of both countries.
Who would be the loser in this scenario?.........Nobody, and that's just about the most perfect solution.
Quebecers could attend the University of Montreal and use the international airport in Dorval. Montrealers would continue to buy electricity from Hydro Quebec and be supplied with other essentials including potable water and farm products, as well as using Quebec roads and highways to travel to Ontario and New Brunswick.
By keeping a completely open and transparent border, the loss of Montreal wouldn't sting Quebecers as much, with access to the city maintained seamlessly.
Unworkable? Not really.
The border between Quebec and Canada can be maintained at the frontier with Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as airports.
Montrealers would pass quickly through these borders with special identification cards or even their passports, identifying them as Canadian.
Under my scenario, resource rich Quebec would be able to pursue its French destiny in the manner it would see fit, socially, politically and linguistically. With the English language eliminated from the public scene, immigrants would have no choice but to assimilate into francophone society.
Former Quebecers, wishing to pursue the Canadian dream can remain or move to the province of Montreal, where they could build a bilingual and open society within the confines of Canada.
For Canadians from coast to coast, keeping Montreal and letting the rest of Quebec go, would be an eminently supportable solution.
And if it means helping out the new province of Montreal financially for a couple of years, I'm sure Canadians would be good with it.
After all they've been paying for Quebec for years.
Readers, I believe it's time for our very own 'Velvet Divorce,' perhaps we could call it the 'Poutine Divorce"
My solution is elegant and doable, plus nobody comes out a loser.
The alternative is the very painful status quo, an unsatisfying stalemate.
The questioned to be asked to sovereigntist and federalists, is that what we all want, the status quo?
Can't we work a kind divorce as adults?