Breakup of Canada

This may not be the right forum, for Chicago thinks it is far from Canada, but it is one of the great debates up north.

If Quebec were to become independent, would the rest of the provinces remain together?

I suspect that the Western ones, particularly BC, would consider that event as a good time to reconsider their future, and try to tighten relationships with the Northern Tier of the US and remove themselves from the Maritime Provinces.

Some might even be prompted to become completely independent, even from their neighbors, resulting in a group of friendly but independent countries, just as the breakup of the USSR.

First - Welcome! (or, Hey Folks! Fresh Meat!)

Second - IMO, moot point. Quebec is not going anywhere - the general trend is internationalism (see E.U.), not secession.

Yes, the Warsaw Pact countires split as soon as the Russian tanks left, but those were never nation-states - an aging empire which finally went the way of all geo-politcal empires.

The Quebec issue has been raised here before - IIRC, the pro-secession folks have been getting less strident over the last 30+ years, but still getting fewer votes on the referendum.

Bottom line - it’s about money, and Canada is getting more integrated, not less.

In theory, Canada might break up if Quebec left. However, it might also do quite the opposite and unite them more strongly.

All the Atlantic provinces, plus Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are to some extent economically dependent on money that flows from Ontario and Alberta. It’s unlikely they’d want to leave; the results could be quite economically devastating. So the main candidates for departure would be Alberta and B.C. (B.C. is more or less in a break even position.) Ontarians would never seriously consider “leaving” Canada - the capital’s in Ontario, so technically I’m not sure it’s even possible.

Although western antipathy runs deep, Quebec leaving may do much to bring them back into the fold. An enormous amount of political power would swing westward, with Quebec’s 75 parliamentary seats and heavy influence in Ottawa gone. Official bilingualism - a bone of contention in the West, not that I’ve ever understood the problem - would become unnecessary. Alberta and B.C. would instantly gain substantially more electoral and economic power in the governance of Canada, and Alberta wouldn’t be pouring money into Quebec anymore, meaning the tax burden would likely decrease. They’d have less reason to leave than they do now.

But, it’s a moot point, really. Quebec isn’t leaving, doesn’t want to leave, and never has, and really has no legal or moral justification for leaving.

Canada would still be an offical bilingual country as many francophones live east of Quebec (in the Maritimes), and even some in Ontario (I think). New Brunswick itself is half French (Acadian) and Canada’s only officaly bilingual province. So, French would still have offical status in Canada reguardless if Quebec left.

B.C. and Alberta would pull out if Quebec left. There is an undercurrent of political opinion here just waiting to be unleashed from a sentimental Canadian political ideal . There is very little respect for the federal government in Ottawa. There’s even been talk of joining adjacent American states to form “Cascadia” which according to the last article I,ve read on it , about 10 years ago would have been the 12th largest economy in the world.

B.C. and Alberta are, respectively, the left and right extremes in Canadian politics. Can you see them agreeing to go it themselves?

I would guess that outside Quebec there are far more Chinese speakers than French speakers. New Brunswick is officially bilingual but is about one third French, not one half. It would make sense for New Brunswick to remain bilingual (which does not require federal bilingualism) but wouldn’t make sense for any other province.

If Quebec became a truly sovereign nation, official biligualism would be pointless. Its reason for existence was as a realistic way of accomodating the fact that a quarter of the country is, and has always been, Francophone. Without Quebec the percentage of Francophones drops to three percent, and 90% of those are bilingual. The “Founding nation” argument for bilingualism would be shot to hell, since the French founding “nation” would no longer be part of Confederation. You’d also have a HUGE backlash against it by Canadians angry over the separation process. Bilingualism would not survive, which is too bad, but it really would be pointless to continue it.

grienspace, “Cascadia” is a silly thing to even discuss. In case you’ve forgotten, U.S. states can’t just leave the Union. You may recall they fought a war about that. In any event, there is not interest in the northwest USA for secession; you’re proposing marriage to a groom that doesn’t know you exist.

And I’d like some rebuttal as to my point that the West instantly becomes more poweful without Quebec. Again; Quebec separation makes the West MORE relevant, more influential, and more powerful. The tiny-as-it-is Western separation movement would have less justification for leaving. Western-based political parties would become substantially more powerful; fewer Western tax dollars would flow into Eastern Canada. Western sympathy for separation is largely due to Quebec being PART of Canada. It’s far easier for the smaller provinces to counter Ontario’s size than it is to counter Ontario AND Quebec.

As someone who was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and was somewhat politically active, I have to say that the Western Separatist movement is effectively non-existent. They have zero political representation, and have never been perceived by the population at large as anything but a crank movement that was briefly legitimized by their participation in the Reform party (until they were basically kicked out because they were too damaging to the credibility of Reform).

Speculation about “Cascadia” is Sunday afternoon beer-drinking bullshit.

The flames of separation have faded in Canada. I used to think that Canada would not survive as a single nation for 20 years, and I thought that in 1980.

Quebec came very close to separation about 20 years ago. Alberta was never that close, but things got pretty ugly back when Trudeau tried to dump the NEP on us.

There is a potential source of conflict coming, however. Alberta is getting richer. A lot richer. Alberta has some of the largest oil reserves in the world. As oil increases in price, the power of Alberta is going to grow. And yet, Alberta has almost no representation within Canada, along with the other western provinces. We essentially get dictated to by the East.

How those trends play out is a mystery to me right now. It might draw us closer together, it might push us apart. But it’s definitely something that will change Canada’s relationship with the provinces.

I could see Alberta and BC going it on their own. Sure, they are politically opposed at times (not nearly as much as you’d think, though). But there are good strategic reasons for them to be together - BC provides a deep water ports and abundant natural resources, and Alberta has much wealth and plenty of farmland and a good high-tech industry.

Alberta/BC together would be a viable country, but just barely. It would have a fairly small population. I don’t think it could maintain its own military and a diverse industrial base. So it would be dependent on the U.S. and Canada for defense and trade.

But anyway, that’s a fantasy. You’re not going to see an Alberta/BC state. What would be far more likely is that Canada would reform itself to stay together. If things ever got crazy enough that there was a serious threat of the west separating, I think you’d suddenly see things like an effective Senate with true representation for the provinces, changes to the constitution to give provinces more autonomy, etc. Whatever it took to keep Canada together.

If there was a breakup, I think it would be more likely that the U.S. would cut deals to bring the provinces into the fold - perhaps a protectorate, if not full statehood. I don’t think the U.S. wants a balkanized Canada.

I don’t believe that Canada as a whole would fall apart, should Quebec separate. As was mentioned before, some of the provinces are dependant upon the economies of Alberta and Ontario. However, nobody has yet mentioned the NWT, Nunavut, and Yukon. They are all rich in minerals - diamonds and oil in NWT and Nunavut, gold in Yukon, and incredible tourism in all three. They still, with all of their wealth, would not separate. Their wealth brings them to barely subsistence without Mama Ottawa.

Canada, sans Quebec, would remain bilingual. Alberta and Ontario’s Francophone populations, along with the Maritime provinces, would demand same. Although it isn’t mentioned often, the NWT and Nunavut have many official languages. If you go to a territorial government office, you will be able to get service in every one of these languages.

I think this is the biggest change to be had. Ontario wants to keep all their disproportionate representation in Ottawa, and who can blame them? But they have a handy excuse in Quebec. Any move to change the constitution to reapportion ridings among the provinces more fairly might just send Quebec over the edge. So the theory goes, for Quebecers’ self-image as co-equals with all of English Canada takes a real beating if representation suddenly reflected only population, not historical founding culture notions.

With Quebec gone, Ontario has neither the philosophical rationale nor the votes to deny fair representation to the more provincial provinces. Yes, I know each provincial government must approve a change to the constitution. But Ontario’s failure in this area would bring the federal government to a standstill.

Ginger, that’s interesting about the different languages. Is every language available in every territorial office, or is it merely that in the capital all are available, and more far-flung offices have the languages that are useful locally?

dqa, it is much like a federal government office, where if you request a French speaking person and one is not available, they will find one or have one on the phone for you right away.

The out-lying offices will always have people that speak the local dialect, as well as English. They also can have people on the phone in a hurry for any of the official languages. The majority of the native languages are only spoken in the NWT - Nunavut primarily is the Keewatin and Baffin area dialects of Inuktitut.

This is a pedantic point, but you’re getting mixed up between the Warsaw Pact and the USSR; the OP was talking about the break up of the latter. To make out that Warsaw Pact countires such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were “never nation-states” is a little contentious.

*The board crash deleted the ridicule of my post at the hands of RickJay, wherein he demonstrated, using populations and percentages, that Ontario is in fact the most under-represented in Ottawa of all the provinces.

Here was my reply, which posted but was also deleted during the crash.*

Every so often, I come across a long-winded post where the author is just so factually misinformed, I have to feel sorry for them. I did not expect to ever write such a post myself. Ah well, the best-laid plans….

In my defense, I did try to verify this whole mess, but the FAQs for the Commons and Senate were more interested in who was the first woman elected to each house.

Let me get to the root of my confusion: At one point in the past I was told by a Quebecker that constitutional reform would likely mean less representation for Quebec. Why were they over-represented now, I asked? Had something to do with their status as one of the original provinces. I assumed Upper Canada got the same deal, not thinking too hard about the fact that Ontario is more populous than Quebec. The fact that the official opposition, even in a fractured election, could be entirely from one province, did nothing to correct my notions.

So what’s the skinny on this? Is there any truth in that at all, or was I just extrapolating into the gaps of a misheard story from a misinformed source speaking his second language?

RickJay, you have done your good deed for today. Thank you for setting me straight on this.

I don’t drink beer, but just the other day I was speculating…

Alaska is trying to cement ties with the Russian Far East. This is a fascinating region that I wish I knew more about. Anywho, the other day (let’s say Sunday afternoon) I was recalling a wild idea I heard about a decade ago about the U.S. purchasing the RFE, Louisiana-style. Then I wondered if eastern Russians feel disconnected from Moscow, like some Alaskans feel disconnected from D.C… If so, they might feel more comfortable together, teamed up as a North Pacific powerhouse (sparsely populated, of course). Then I thought, why not throw in the Yukon and B.C. while we’re at it?

Thanks! You’ve made my non-beer-drinking speculation seem slightly more plausible!

Quebecers have a different perception of the country than you or I. Our instinct is to assume every citizen gets an equal voice; the Quebecois approach is that QUEBEC, as a group, should have an equal voice with THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, as a group, and the fact that Quebec is only 24.11% of the population isn’t relevant. So actually having political power divided proportionately would “reduce” Quebec’s representation by reducing its de facto influence, if you see what I mean. A good example would be Quebec’s desire for a Constitutional veto; when it was first proposed during the early stages of Meech Lake, they wanted a veto just for themselves, not for any other province. Quebec viciously opposed extending the “distinct society” concept to other provinces too, since that would make them only one out of ten; that would be unfair to them, because in their view they should be one out of TWO.

I’m sure that strikes you as being absurd, but it was perceived in Quebec (by many, anyway) as being totally fair; one founding nation gets one veto, the other gets one veto. The idea that other provinces should have the same stature as Quebec is seen by many Quebecois as being incredibly stupid; Quebec should be more equal than the others.

Now, to me, that’s just friggin’ nuts. A country basing its founding document on giving a quarter of the population the same voice as the other three quarters is doomed to failure. To a soft Quebecois nationalist, however, it’s quite logical; if the idea is to protect what you consider to be a separate nation within a state, it makes sense. And for many years, and even today, that’s the way it’s applied; Quebec DOES have influence and consideration closer to being half the country than being a quarter of the country. It is unquestionably disproportionately powerful. But to Quebecois, it should be half the country, and the fact that it’s only got maybe 30-40% of the power isn’t enough. To you and me it’s wayyy too much. That, right there, is the basic Quebec-English Canada conflict in a nutshell; Quebecois think they should have 50% of the say, and the ROC thinks they should have 24.11% of the say. Quqbecois think that because they, to a large extent, consider themselves a sovereign state, a level at which all actors are equal (Germany and France are soverieng equals despite having different populations, for instance.) ROCians think what they think because they consider it all one nation, a level at which equality lies in the individual.

So, part of the Quebecois fear of many proposed Constitutional solutions is that it would effectively reduce Quebec’s actual influence by clearly making Quebec just one out of ten provinces. A Triple-E Senate where every province got 10 seats and the Senate had real power is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE to most Quebecois for that very reason; it effectively makes Quebec 10% of the country, a situation in which, in many Quebecois eyes, their culture and language can’t last.

I would agree that Quebec is overrepresented - not in Parliament, where they’re just 2 seats over the right number, but in the de facto governance of the nation. I had to jump to the defense of Ontario, though, which is decidedly UNDERrepresented, both in Parliament (by a LOT of seats) and in real influence - after all, who was the last Prime Minister to be elected from Ontario? That said, I personally don’t mind Ontario’s place in the country; Ontario is wealthy and has a multifaceted economy that, in practice, doesn’t really need any specific help from the feds, and can’t practically be hurt by any one dumb federal move.

More recently than the last prime minster with a significant term from the West: We’ve had Diefenbaker and Bennett… and that’s basically it. Clark, Campbell and Turner (not sure he even counts) all got just cups of coffee in the big office.