A Pocket Full of Sovereigns

Letter From Canada

Downtown Montreal was full of revelers last March 10.  Despite subzero temperatures, they hit the streets, some wearing little more than a smile.  But each had a maple leaf somewhere, on a flag, a piece of clothing, a sign, or even in place of the proverbial fig leaf.

Such was the scene described by Macleans magazine’s Benoit Aubin on that cold March day, when even the oft-estranged Quebecers, English-speaking and Francophone alike, jammed Bishop Street on the west end and St. Laurent Boulevard in the east, meeting together on St. Cathereine Street to cheer the Canadian Olympic hockey team’s first gold medal since 1952.

And not a single fleur-de-lis to be found.

From reading this account, you might guess that the sovereignty question in Quebec has been solved and that the danger of Canada’s potential break-up—a question that dominated political discussion here for well over a decade—has passed.  At least that is what Canada’s establishment, from Macleans on down, would like to believe.  And they have evidence that the pro-sovereignty, separatist forces are losing ground.  While the Parti Québécois still holds a majority in the provincial National Assembly, it’s currently in third place in nationwide polls and has lost several by-elections this past spring.  Many political experts think it is just a...

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