According to a recent Angus Reid Institute poll, Quebecers are unlikely to revisit the issue of independence anytime soon, with 82 percent of those polled thinking that Quebec should eventually remain a part of Canada. According to a recent poll, Quebecers' desire to secede from Canada is waning. In a survey conducted by Le Devoir in April 2014, only 14 percent of respondents said they supported an independent Quebec while another 12 percent were not sure one way or the other.
The results of this survey are somewhat surprising given the current political climate between Quebec and Ottawa. President Obama recently stated his support for Quebec's right to decide its own future without interference from outside parties, such as the federal government. The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, however, has expressed concern that an independent Quebec would be forced to accept visas to visit America which could hurt Canadian tourism. As well, he believes that separation would be difficult because many companies have their headquarters in Quebec City and would need to be convinced to move.
These concerns reflect two opposing views among Quebecers on whether or not to separate. Some believe it is a mistake that will hurt everyone involved while others think it is inevitable and there is no going back. Given these conflicting views, it is likely that Quebec's status as an independent country will continue to be debated.
Despite believing that Canada would not suffer if Quebec were to become a separate nation, just 16% of Canadians in the rest of the country desire Quebec to become a separate country. However, fewer than one in every ten Canadians outside of Quebec believe the province will attain independence, compared to one-third of Quebecers.
There are several factors that may explain why more people think an independent Quebec would be bad for Canada rather than good. First, many in other parts of the country believe that if Quebec separated, it would be the end of Canada as we know it. Second, Canadians outside of Quebec seem to believe that if Quebec became its own country, it would want to close itself off from the world market and focus only on economic development - which would be bad for Canada's economy. Finally, some people believe that if Quebec became its own country, it would want to limit immigration into it, which would be bad for Canada's population.
In fact, opinions about the effect that an independent Quebec would have on Canada are largely divided along regional lines. People living in Quebec are most likely to believe that an independent Quebec would be good for their province, while those living in other parts of the country are most likely to believe that it would be bad. This may be because many Quebecers believe that an independent Quebec could help bring about much-needed economic reforms or privatizations within the government sector.
According to polling data, 32% of Quebecers say Quebec has enough sovereignty and should stay a part of Canada, 28% believe Quebec should split, and 30% believe Quebec does need more autonomy but should remain a part of Canada. However, recent polls show that support for separation is on the rise.
In 2003, according to another poll, 41% wanted independence and 39% wanted a merger with Canada. In 2008, after the election of the Liberal government under Paul Martin, there was speculation in the media that Mr. Martin might call an election soon because he did not have much support in Parliament. However, Mr. Martin called the election later that year when it became clear that his party would lose many seats if an election were held now. The separatist Bloc Québécois won nearly 40% of the vote in those elections, demonstrating that Canadians are not ready for another referendum on separation.
New polling released in January 2009 showed that support for separation has increased to 44%. Many experts attribute this rise to dissatisfaction with the federal government's decision to reject an offer by the separatist group Solidarity to work with them to achieve a consensus on a new model for Quebec's relationship with the rest of Canada.
It has been demonstrated time and again that the majority of Quebecers do not want total independence. The only way the separatists can achieve more than 30% of the vote is to disguise it as some type of sovereignty association in which Quebec pretends to be independent while yet enjoying all of the benefits of being a part of Canada. This has been the strategy since 1970 when the Parti Québécois (PQ) was formed and has been used many times before that date.
The last time this strategy failed was in 1995 when Jean Charest's Liberal government defeated the PQ's referendum on sovereignty-association. Even though the proposal lost, the PQ still managed to obtain nearly half a million votes - almost 1 million people voted for independence even though it was clear they did not want to live without Canada.
Since then, other options have been proposed but they have never obtained sufficient support from either Quebecers or Canadians at large. A new approach called "Québec Confidential" was recently proposed by some political scientists who believe that if Quebecers feel secure about their future within Canada then they would be less likely to vote for separation. However, this option has not gained much support among Quebecers or Canadians generally. It appears that few people are willing to risk losing what they have now if it means staying with Canada.
In conclusion, there is no chance that Quebec will ever become completely independent of Canada.
Quebecers, who have a strong sense of identity, live in a country that denies their existence. They are advised that they must either adapt to a vision of Canada that they do not share or leave. As a result, a large number of erstwhile defenders of Canadian unity have now joined with proponents of Quebec sovereignty.
The demand for independence has never been stronger in Quebec. It is the only way for many citizens to be able to continue speaking French and maintain their cultural identity.
Independence would also allow Quebec to take back control over some social programs that were originally developed for Canadians as a whole but which are now being denied to its residents. For example, independent Quebec could decide to keep the old age pension system as it is today. Or it could choose to introduce a new one that would cover all its citizens.
The list of benefits available under independence is long. In fact, there would be no limit to what Quebec could achieve if it were granted its dream of becoming an independent nation.
Currently, Quebecers are denied this right and forced to settle for a fragile compromise called "dual citizenship". The Constitution forbids people from being subject to two countries' laws at the same time. This means that if you are a citizen of Canada, you can't simultaneously hold dual citizenship with another country.
Under independence, however, people would no longer be required to choose between Canada and Quebec.