Forget division

The popularity of Quebec’s newest political party confirms that separatism is dead.

On Nov. 14, François Legault launched the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party, calling for Quebecers to stop defining themselves as either sovereigntists or federalists and instead focus on more relevant provincial issues.

Legault wants to address the education and health care systems, increase wealth creation and, most importantly, protect French language and culture. But he wants to do it by ruling out separatism and ending the division between Quebecers.

It’s a good thing because separatism is the wrong way forward for Quebec. The province needs to preserve and strengthen its cultural and linguistic identity within a federalist framework.

An independent Quebec couldn’t and wouldn’t survive in an increasingly globalized community. And Quebecers know it. Legault’s already the frontrunner to take power in a restless province — the CAQ only became an official party four days ago, but it has led in public opinion polls for months.

The CAQ surfaced at a time when popular support for separatism is lower than ever before. May’s federal election saw the New Democratic Party win 59 of Quebec’s 75 seats and the Bloc Québécois (BQ) lose official party status after winning only four.

The provincial version of the BQ, the Parti Québécois (PQ), is in turmoil and lacks direction after leader Pauline Marois was unable to overcome dissenters within the party. This summer, six provincial legislators left the PQ to sit as independents.

With Premier Jean Charest’s Quebec Liberal Party buried in ongoing corruption allegations, public opinion suggests that Legault could take power in the next provincial election.

He appeals to the province’s desire for change — for more than 40 years, Quebec obsessed over whether it should be a separate country instead of focusing on socioeconomic development, and the province floundered in the process.

The NDP’s success and the CAQ’s popularity are no flukes. Both parties call for Quebec nationalism within a Canadian context — they’ve both connected with voters by advocating the importance of language politics instead of reigniting the tiresome separatism debate.

If Quebecers are serious about wanting realistic progress, it’s no surprise that separatism is dead.

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