There's a prevailing belief out there — outside of Quebec — that the sovereignty debate is dead or at least on hold.
Maybe someone should tell that to the governing Parti Quebecois.
Last weekend a Leger poll suggested that support for an independent Quebec was on the decline. On Wednesday, another poll — this time from CROP — suggested that 44 per cent of Quebecers still support some form of sovereignty.
Not surprisingly, the PQ is jumping all over that.
"Quebecers realize we are sovereign," Jean-François Lisée, the PQ minister of international affairs, said on Wednesday according to the Montreal Gazette.
"An every time we make decisions for ourselves, whether it is in economic policy, in foreign affairs, in resolving our union issues, the recovery of Montreal, we are among Quebecers, and we make decisions for Quebecers.
"It’s as though, on many levels, Quebec is already independent in its mind, in its way of making decisions and it doesn’t see why it should ask permission from our neighbours for some important decisions we have to make."
According to the Globe and Mail, Lisée continued, suggesting that Canada and Quebec are drifting apart and comparing the two jurisdictions to a old married couple about to get divorced.
"We are not angry at each other. We don’t love each other very much. We are just indifferent. We barely talk. We are in different bedrooms," he said.
"At some point there is going to be an issue that says: Okay, this couple has been over for a while. Let’s have separate apartments."
No one should be surprised at Lisée's comments.
Since election night in September 2012, the PQ has made no bones about their intentions for an independent Quebec.
"I would like to talk to our friends and neighbours in Canada," then-Premier Elect Pauline Marois said during her victory speech.
"As a nation we want to make the decisions about the things that are important for us. We want a country. And we will have it."
Having just a minority government hasn't stopped Marois from subtly forwarding her sovereignty agenda.
Last September, the Canadian flag was was removed from the Quebec legislature as members of the PQ were sworn into office.
The premier has also embarked on a Quebec independence road show, of sorts.
Last December, in New York, the premier addressed a crowd of well-heeled business types telling them that they shouldn't lose sleep over an independent Quebec.
"As you know, I hope that one day the people of Quebec will one day be a part of the concert of nations," she said, adding that sovereignty would not change borders or the province's relationship with the U.S.
And, in January, Marois was in the Scotland supporting a Scottish independence movement.
“It will show that this [independence] is not an old idea, but a very modern idea, and Scotland is an example in this perspective,” Marois told reporters.
“It will tell Quebeckers that it is still possible to attain the objective,"
Of late, Marois is doing what every separatist premier before her has done: She’s participating in 'identity' politics.
Earlier this year, according to the Montreal Gazette, the PQ announced that they are "taking steps to improve the teaching of 'national history'" in their public schools. The Gazette suggests that the 'national history' will be Quebec's and not Canada's.
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And then there's the PQ's Values Charter which, if passed, would ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.
The proposed secularization plan has caused outrage across the country — except in Francophone Quebec — playing into the hands of the separatists who are often buoyed by the 'us versus them' battles.
Yes, the rest of Canada might want to think the sovereignty debate is dead but — as long as the PQ is in power — it's really not.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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