E Macfarlane: Do separatist movements around the world have anything to learn from the PQ?

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6 September, 2012
By: Emmett Macfarlane
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo

While separatist movements in other countries can no doubt learn lessons from the PQ in terms of strategy and the use of nationalist rhetoric, it’s important not to underestimate the relative uniqueness of the sovereignty movement in Canada. Many ethnic or linguistic minorities continue to endure oppression and overt assimilationist policies, and few benefit from a national order that’s as accommodating in its use of federalism (particularly asymmetrical federalism) as Canada’s. Even limiting comparisons to peaceful, developed countries, it’s also worth noting that few separatist movements will benefit from a perpetual constitutional malaise brought about by a context like the 1982 patriation deal or the supposed “rejection” of one part of the country via the failure of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown proposals.

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