Sunday, October 30, 2005

La Grande Armee du Quebec

The Quebec separatist movement has laboured under many delusions about how to achieve Quebec independence and how to keep Quebec a strong and prosperous country thereafter.

One of the greatest delusions, sovereignty-association, presumed that the rest of Canada would only be too happy to keep sharing the fruits of a unified Canadian economy with an independent Quebec, including a common currency and free trade, and perhaps even a common citizenship and pasport.

Yet another was the delusion that Canada would roll over and play dead once Quebec voted 50%+1 in favour of some sort of vague new arrangement whose details would be determined later.

Given that the Quebec separatist movement is heavily dominated by left-wing pacificists, it's no surprise that many of them thought that Quebec could do without military forces of any kind.

Gilles Duceppe, perhaps the least delusional of all the separatist movement's leaders, and therefore its most effective, has advised otherwise:

Breaking a long-standing taboo of the separatist movement, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe argued in favour Saturday of an army for an independent Quebec.

Bloc delegates are gathered in Montreal to draft policy for a Quebec independent of Canada, including proposals for an army, a free trade deal with Europe and Mexico, an immigration policy and diplomatic ties with Washington.

"Why would it be ridiculous that Quebec has an army?" Duceppe said at a news conference.

"It doesn't mean that you're going to war because you have an army," said Duceppe, who faces a leadership review during the three-day policy convention.

He has used the event to inspire the party faithful to prepare for a third referendum on separation and convince voters of the benefits of independence.

After intense discussions on whether such a force was viable or necessary, the some 1,000 delegates rejected the idea using the more politically palatable term "national guard" instead of army.

They also agreed it could be created by taking over Canadian military facilities.

The provincial Parti Quebecois has wrestled for years with the question of a military force for a sovereign Quebec. Past general meetings of the PQ have included emotional pleas against a Quebec armed forces.

Give Duceppe credit for clear thinking about what independence really means.

If Quebec can't even put up the pretense of being able to defend its sovereignty, other countries are not likely to recognize it as a sovereign state.

Canada is not going to let Quebec freeload off its military the way that we have been freeloading off the United States.

Moreover, Quebec will need its own military to defend against a delusion that has grown up in the rest of Canada: the delusion that Quebec will quietly hand over any territory annexed post-Confederation as the price of a peaceful secession.

Any Quebec government that even hinted at handing over the James Bay hydro-electric plants or any seriously populated part of Quebec would be vilified for selling out its own people.

The separatist movement's utopian visions, while inspiring much support, have also held them back from acheiving their goal. Duceppe is a far more pragmatic man and his leadership has cleared out a lot of the woolly-headed dreamers.

Quebec independence is a more likely prospect now than ever before, because of Gilles Duceppe.

When he talks, listen.

Source: Canadian Press

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