Thursday, 17 January 2013

Aw no, neverendum

Alex Salmond is to hold talks with the leader of the Quebec separatist party who plans to hold the third referendum in three decades on splitting from Canada.

Pauline Marois, the Premier of Quebec, is to visit Scotland later this month for talks with the First Minister, raising fears that the SNP leader is planning a fall back second referendum if he fails to win independence the first time round.

Marois leads the Quebecois nationalist party which is currently the minority government in the ferderal Quebec parliament.

With the main Liberal opposition leaderless, Canadian constitutional experts expect her to push for an overall majority in an early election next year as a mandate to stage another independence referendum.

She is building on her minority with populist measures like proposing abolition of an increase in student fees, abolishing an increase in electricity bills and medical fees. Is this beginning to sound very 2007 to you?

A majority win for Marois would put Quebec politics back into a "neverendum" cul de sac, a cycle of referenda that opponents fear Salmond’s SNP would try to emulate if they lost the Scottish vote in 2014.

Quebec has already staged two referenda on breaking away from Canada. The first, in 1980, was a heavy defeat for separatists but the second one in 1995 saw 50.58 per cent voting "No" and 49.42 per cent voting "Yes".

Salmond confirmed the visit yesterday during a Q&A with foreign journalists. He said he welcomed foreign leaders of all stripes and said he never looked for exact international parallels. But he declined to say what the subject of the talks would be.

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