Separation Anxiety

The secret correspondence of two Quebec luminaries

In January of this year, the Bloc Québécois chose a new leader, Yves-François Blanchet, who promised to promote independence tirelessly in order to “win Quebec and win for Quebec.” To those anglophone Canadians who noticed, this probably seemed a ghostly echo from the past. Yet the event does prompt us to ask what has become of Quebec separatism. Has it effectively disappeared as a force capable of posing an existential threat to Canada, or has it merely gone quiet for a time, still able to take on new life if sufficiently provoked?

The answer might appear obvious if one takes the federal BQ and the provincial Parti Québécois as the measures of separatist strength. The former will struggle in the forthcoming federal election to win enough seats for official party status, while the recent 2018 provincial election saw the latter reduced to third-­party status, with a mere ten seats. This is far...