For some, perhaps for most, the question of Québec separation is a dead issue. There are many who believe that the referendum in 1995 was the last kick at the can for those who want a sovereign Québec.
And they're probably right, maybe.
For my own part I view separation as still being a possibility, albeit unlikely. I do think that the so called 'winning conditions' the likes of the Parti Quebécois envision can still come to pass. I wrote about it recently here: Québec's road to independence.
In broad strokes I think the winning conditions for a yes vote on independence would be:
1) The election of a majority PQ government
2) Deterioration of relations between Ottawa and the Québec government with Ottawa refusing to cede control of responsibilities like immigration and the administration of Employment Insurance.
3) Increased unpopularity of the Federal government in Québec.
4) The creation of a form of Québec citizenship with the possible disenfranchisement of non French speaking voters.
Doesn't seem like such a long shot viewed in that light does it?
Some might point to recent polling which has the PQ only in minority territory. However the electorate is volatile so I'm not going to put too much stock in polls. Just witness Alberta's recent election. On top of that I consider PQ voters as being perhaps more motivated. And the PQ itself is likely more organized than its rivals, in particular the nascent Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ).
So let's assume the PQ forms a majority and that a referendum does come to pass, with Québec voting for independence at some future date. What then?
I'm no constitutional lawyer or expert, but this is what I think we'd be looking at.
Immediately after a vote for independence there would be euphoria for hardliners, uncertainty for many, and outright fear among some. The island of Montréal would be in turmoil, with some packing up to leave and others vowing a referendum of their own. Native communities likewise would be clamoring for the right to make up their own minds as to whether or not they want their lands and their citizenship to be accorded to Canada or Québec.
In short, there would be big trouble, and likely in my opinion, violence. The hard line separatists having waited so long to finally win a vote for independence would not take kindly to those looking to rain on their parade and things would get ugly.
I have trouble seeing clearly what happens beyond that to be honest, but I have a pretty good idea.
The reaction in English Canada would be mixed as I see it. Some would be saying good riddance, while others would take up the cause of the aboriginal and anglophone communities. The east coast would be in angst over the complications of being part of a geographically divided confederation.
While all this hand wringing and debate is going on in Québec and in the rest of the country, I envision Québec's National Assembly voting on a unilateral declaration of independence, and naturally passing it based on the PQ's majority status.
English Canada would be in uproar citing the Clarity Act, with Québec waiting anxiously for recognition from foreign countries.
Nobody would be happy, except for lawyers who would be having a field day.
It could take years to settle, and I have no idea who would the winner would be. The only thing of which I'm certain is that there would be plenty of losers. The toll on the economy would be devastating as Canada would become like a leper as far as foreign investment is concerned.
The comment section is open and I don't engage censorship so I'll leave it to readers to have at it. I will delete those comments which are overly profane or of a threatening or menacing nature however.