Would France Support an Independent Quebec?

Over the weekend, I read an extremely heated thread on a different message board regarding Quebec independence and whether or not they had the continued support of France.

The young Quebecois doing most of the shouting was very passionate and insisted that not only was the previous vote a fraud perpetrated by the Canadian government, but that the cause of Quebec independence had the full support of France, and felt that the UN should step in. Aside from a very shaky comparison to the US acting on behalf of Israel, he couldn’t really give a concrete reason as to why the UN would have reason to intercede other than that’s what he wants to happen. I fully admit I’m not as up on Canadian politics as I probably should be, since they’re our neighbors, but I thought this had been settled.

Since he wasn’t objective enough to give me a concrete explanation, I was hoping someone here could answer my question. A google search didn’t turn up much; the Wiki entry seems to verify my recollection that a majority of Quebec citizens chose to remain a Canadian province twice and support for the separatist movement is waning. De Gualle spoke for it, Sarkozy against. Does France have an official position? Will there be another vote? Thank you in advance for fighting my ignorance.

I do not see what France would gain by extending any help at all to Quebec before independence. Once Quebec became a separate state, I would suppose the natural attraction of co-linguists would mean something. But of course Quebec would be a very marginal player on the world scene. It is not clear what France and Quebec would trade.

I don’t believe France has an official position other than “Canada is our friend and ally, and we won’t interfere with Canadian internal affairs.” Unofficially, the French position (after de Gaulle, who, as you said, called for an independent Quebec) tended to be, “We won’t do anything to promote Quebec independence, but if it happened, we wouldn’t be upset about it.” As you said, just two weeks ago, Sarkozy has said that while Quebec will always have a special relationship with France, it’s part of Canada and the world doesn’t need “more division”.

The history of French support for Quebec independence, and more generally of Quebec-France relations, is actually a very interesting one, and the reason why it’s being discussed right now is that it appears that President Sarkozy is trying to change the relationship (some would say under the counseling of his Canadian mentor, noted federalist businessman Paul Desmarais).

Right now I can only give a summary of the issue, seeing how I don’t have any reference books close by (and I don’t know it by heart :p). Let’s just say that since General de Gaulle’s speech on the balcony of Montreal’s City Hall in 1967, when he caused a diplomatic incident by saying “Vive le Québec libre!” (“Long live Free Quebec!”), most French politicians’ attitude towards Quebec’s national question has been one of “non-ingerence and non-indifference”. In other words, they won’t try to intervene in internal Canadian affairs, but they are not indifferent to the whole thing and would be likely to recognize the independence of Quebec if there was a democratic vote in favour of it. For the most part, the gaullists (politically more likely to be centre-right) were more likely to support Quebec independence while the socialists were less likely. This seems a little odd since in Quebec most (but not all) sovereigntists tend to be left-wing, but it can possibly be explained by de Gaulle and his supporters’ desire to keep some sort of “empire”. Of course, an independent Quebec would be very unlikely to be part of the French sphere of influence in any strong way.

This has been exploited by sovereigntist politicians, who were planning, in the case of a yes vote to a referendum on independence, to get the support and recognition of France first. After this first-world country (a member of the UN Security Council) had recognized Quebec as a sovereign nation, they reasoned it should be easier to get the recognition of the US and other countries. I’m not sure how true that is, but it does seem like a reasonably good strategy.

But now Sarkozy is trying to strengthen his relationship with the rest of Canada and with Prime Minister Harper, and as such is trying to distance himself from the relationship his country has forged with Quebec over the years. Some people in his government, mindful of not alienating anybody, have said that France considers Canadians to be her “friends” and Quebecers to be her “brothers”, but it’s uncertain what that means, and what the policy of the French government will be for the next few years. Given that even Quebec’s main sovereigntist party isn’t actually trying to do the promotion of independence right now, it probably won’t cause any major “recognition crisis” or anything of the sort, but it might have negative effects on some of the Quebec-France bilateral accords.

Paul in Saudi, Quebec and France do have many bilateral agreements even with Quebec as part of Canada. For example, French students are allowed to study in Quebec while paying only the same tuition fees as Quebec students.

By the way, Syntropy, what message board is this? I wonder if I might find it interesting to read and/or contribute. You may PM me if you don’t want to post it here.

I don’t mind. It’s the StumbleUpon fora. My company software blocks that website, but I’ll send you a link when I get home.

Jacques Parizeau was the premier of Quebec when the last sovereignity vote was taken in 1995. In an interview after leaving office he claimed he had reached agreement with French foreign officials that if the seperatists won the vote, the French would recognize a sovereignity declaration he would put out the day after the vote. Once the French recognized Quebec it would have been hard for other countries or the UN to deny recognition. It caused a huge stir at the time, because before the vote Parizeau claimed he wouldn’t declare sovereignity until after lengthy negociations with the Canadian government even after winning a vote.

I seem to remember something like this, but I think it was only if the federal government refused to negociate (which seemed rather likely) that he would have unilateraly declared independence.

Of course, Parizeau was (and is) a rather hardline independentist; he doesn’t think referenda and all this stuff are necessary if there is a majority vote in favour of independence in Quebec’s National Assembly.

Could New France be constitied as a department of metropolitan France (like St. pierre et Miquelon)?

While that would happen if Quebec became part of France, I doubt that, if Quebec were to become independent, it would want France to annex it, and I doubt that France would want to annex it.

Nitpick: Saint Pierre et Miquelon is not an overseas département. Guadeloupe would be a better example.

Right on both counts. Didn’t ralph124c already ask something like this in the past?

I’m sorry. I did perform a search. :smack:

Would you say the young man I was reading was in the majority as far as wanting an independent Quebec? And thank you so much for your factual replies earlier.

Sure, right after post-secession Alaska gets back together with Russia.

Which will happen after the thirteen colonies plus Florida become British Overseas territories again. And complete returning the damn tea.

No, no, you misunderstood me. ralph124c never asked the same question as you. I seem to remember him asking if an independent Quebec would want to rejoin France. We told him it certainly wouldn’t, but now he’s asking again in this thread. Maybe I’m wrong and it was someone else.

You’re welcome. Let’s just say that I believe most Quebecers (me included) don’t want to break up Canada, since we’ve worked so hard at building it, but at the same time we don’t feel at all included in the Canadian national identity that’s being constructed (especially since the 60s) in the rest of the country, and we want our true government (the provincial one) to be able to govern without the federal government getting in its legs. So “independent” as in a separate country, no, that’s not what the majority would prefer, but nearly 50% did vote for it in 1995 because it seems that what we’d like Canada to be is increasingly at odds with what other Canadians think Canada is or would like Canada to be. It’s a very complicated situation; there’s a lot I could write about it (not necessarily in this thread) and I’m sure there’s been dozens of books written on the subject as well.

The United States would have to invoke the Monroe Doctrine

Seriously, who wouldn’t?

It depends on who agrees to split up. If Quebec does without the rest of Canada agreeing I can see a lot of countries including France not supporting the split. If majority of Canadian and the Canadian government agree to split then I doubt there would be a lot of external pressure to not recognize Quebec.

The whole thing is just a 40 year old misunderstanding. De Gaulle had a cold and wanted to show support for Quebecois literacy.