The [Quebec] Pontiac's reality options?

Posted 05.24.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Only Pontiac's great and plentiful musicians and artists haven't spoken up about municipal amalgamation. Everyone else has had their say. Will we hear the "Amalgamation Shuffle" or "One-Big-Merger Rag"?

Maybe we've heard too much shuffling already, and the artists are too busy chasing Pontiac's disappearing paycheques -- haven't we had more than our share of predictions of great futures just around the corner if only we do something more, like merge?

Let’s talk about something else. Separation.

We do have a sovereigntist government at the helm in Quebec City. Pontiac being one big chrome-plated municipality or eighteen independent fiefdoms won't mean much to us if we are thrown into another independence referendum. Kiss investment goodbye.

No majority of Quebecers wants this vote, but the Marois government did include it in its campaign promises -- as number one, if my memory serves -- so all we're waiting for are the indefinable "right conditions" for another independence vote. It may not be winnable, but we're going to get the referendum anyway, especially if the nationalists feel they can create the fear and hysteria such a radical change would require.

Given that Quebec is one of the world's richest and most beautiful pieces of real estate, fear and hysteria are all that could push us out of our comfort zone. Where might that fear and hysteria come from?

Look to Scotland.

Premier Marois recently visited that part of the UK, to congratulate the separatist government just elected there, and hoping some of their lustre might rub off on her own ambitions. Alex Salmond, head of the Scots' independence movement, literally gave her only a few moments. He has no interest in Quebec's complaints, but he has announced that Scotland will have its independence referendum on September 18, 2014. What can we, as well as Pauline Marois, learn from Scotland's plans?

First is a big point: Allowing 16 year-olds to vote. This will be a first for Scotland, and it is a proposal for Quebec urged by Jacques Parizeau who sees his own supporters aging and fading away, while noting the easily enflamed political energy of teenagers.

Second, contrary to past efforts here, Scots will face one simple, friendly question: "Should Scotland become an independent country?" Third, Scotland will wait another year to settle this question. Won't we be waiting years for the "right conditions?" Years, while government deficits continue growing, corruption now uncovered remains unresolved, health care limps along and economic stagnation grows, while we wait, largely jobless and heavily taxed, supporting a massively expensive bureaucracy? We wait another year while the government searches for, and even tries to create, the national insults which some Quebecers are so sensitive to, and which Anglo rednecks are so eager to present?

Fourth -- and here's a kicker -- the Scots are telling the uncommitted voters that the only way Scotland can ever get out from under permanently destructive Conservative governments is via independence. Mr. Salmond sees this as his deciding argument. So does Ms. Marois. Stephen Harper is quickly becoming the separatists' strongest argument for a "fully empowered and fully accountable" state. Can't blame them, but what's all this really relevant to? Somewhat like the argument for a brand-new super municipality?

Isn't there a third choice, a reality option


Copyright © 2013 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/05.13