Is the Rest of Canada still willing to fight to keep Quebec?

Quebec Premier and Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is applauded by her cabinet and Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau, left, as she calls for a general provincial election, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Quebecers are going to the polls on April 7. (CP/Jacques Boissinot)


"Until next time!" pledges René Lévesque, after his bid for separation was soundly beaten on Referendum Night in 1980. With Quebec now beginning another election campaign -- and the Parti Quebecois looking good in early polls -- is Canada heading for the next time? Some are asking if it has the will to fight for Quebec one more time.

"I say to Quebecers, it's up to you now to make the only possible choice for Quebec's future. Thank you."

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois while calling an April 7th election

The Parti Quebecois has come a long way in the 18 months since Madame Marois came to power with a minority government. And the first poll of the campaign - conducted yesterday morning by Leger Marketing -- shows the PQ with a strong lead among francophone voters. Most indications at the outset of the campaign are that she will emerge this time with a majority.

And while the PQ hasn't committed to holding another referendum on Quebec sovereignty, Madame Marois said in February that she is a separatist and if elected she has the right to hold one if the support is there.

Popular support for that within Quebec is one thing. But nearly 20 years since since the last referendum, how energetic is the rest of Canada for another fight for Quebec?

Michael Den Tandt says the appetite to fight to keep Quebec in Canada is waning. He is a columnist with Post Media and joins us from our Ottawa studio.

Christian Bourque is the Executive Vice-President and Senior Partner with Léger Marketing. Last year, the polling firm asked Canadians outside Quebec what they thought about the importance of keeping Quebec in Canada.

"Well, we found two statements that almost contradict themselves, but I think mean one thing -- that there is slightly growing indifference toward Quebec in the rest of the country. The first one we asked Canadians, if you had to choose, what would you prefer? That Quebec stay a province of Canada, or that they become independent? And 75% of Canadians outside Quebec said I want them to remain part of Canada, of course. However, when we asked another question, 'Do you find Quebec today is more of an asset or a burden?' 43 % of Canadians outside of Quebec said Quebec is more a burden than an asset. Only 39% feel that Quebec is still an asset."

David Bercuson thinks the rest of Canada can't be bothered or afford to keep spending huge amounts of time and energy convincing Quebec to stay. He is a historian and the Director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. In 2002, he co-authored the book, Deconfederation: Canada Without Quebec. David Bercuson was in Calgary.

Irvin Studin says Canadians would be naive to think that we should just let Quebec go because without it, Canada would cease to exist in a meaningful way. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto's School of Public Policy and Governance, and Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief magazine. Irvin Studin joins was in our Toronto studio.

Weigh in about Quebec's future in Canada.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Catherine Kalbfleisch and Gord Westmacott.

Are you a separatist or not, Mr. Lévesque?

Just 50 years ago, the thought seemed almost unimaginable, even for some of the key participants. In 1964, provincial cabinet minister René Lévesque was interviewed by CBC journalist Larry Zolf and an associate law professor named Pierre Trudeau. Opinions had yet to harden and minds had yet to change, but some kind of transformation was underway.

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