The Instigator
Con (against)
10 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Quebec should pursue independence from Canada

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/30/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,794 times Debate No: 59767
Debate Rounds (2)
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Votes (2)




Quebec independence has in recent months increasingly come under scrutiny as a viable political option for the people of Quebec. This is in large part to the recent massive defeat of the main pro-sovereignty party of Quebec, the PQ, as well as polls showing that the movement is increasingly being abandoned by younger Quebecois.

The question can be raised as to whether this movement is viable as a political option. I hope to explore with my opponent the pros and cons of this movement.

I will take the con position and argue as to why the Quebecois should no longer pursue independence.

First, allow me to concede two points.

1) The Quebecois form a cohesive group who view themselves as a people or nation in the sociocultural sense. This has also been recognized by the Canadian government through a motion in the house of commons in 2006.

2) A group who are popularly recognized as a nation have a face valid basis to form a state. This is neither necessary or sufficient to justify nationhood but does offer a preliminary ground to form a state.

However, the fact that the Quebecois could form a state does not mean they should. The basis of my argument is that a nation should not seek to form an independent state if on the whole it makes its members worse off in doing so.

I believe Quebec would be worse of as an independent state for 5 reasons.

1) Loss of federal transfers: Currently Quebec is a net beneficiary of the Canadian federal system of redistribution of wealth between provinces. Even if Quebec saved money by recouping taxes sent to Ottawa and by eliminating redundancies, most neutral economists agree that Quebec receives more than it sends.

2) Debt:
Quebec is already indebted quite heavily as a province of Canada. However as an independent state, it would likely inherit a sizable chunk of the federal debt too. This would be in a climate of political instability that could make managing the public debt considerably harder.

3) Loss of political influence: Quebec has, at several points, had considerable influence on Canada (consider the number of prime ministers from the province) and as a result, been able to use Canadian influence to promote its interests. An independent Quebec, while more autonomous, would also be more irrelevant as it would be relatively small, and live in the shadow of the US and English Canada.

4) Reduction in civil rights: The quebecois independence movement defines itself largely in contrast to the individualism of the "Anglo" tradition and is hostile to classical liberalism. These tensions are based on the desire of major figures in the movement to use state power to compel assimilation into the majority culture. For example, major strands of the movement have proposed increasing laws to restrict the use of English and/or the ability of unilingual angolphones to function in Quebec. They have also proposed laws restricting religious expression for minority groups. Within Canada, these options are blocked by the constitutional charter of rights. However, an independent Quebec could choose to write the constitution so that individual rights are more limited. Such a move would lead Quebec to adopt a more coercive stance. This would be harmful to the image of the Quebecois nation as well as to the well-beings of its minorities.

5) Loss of cultural wealth: The most important reason why Quebec should not separate is that the entire history of the Quebecois people has been based on exchange with other cultures. This people arose out of interactions between French's settlers and natives, then with waves of immigrants (British loyalists, Irish refugees, later waves of immigrants). This process has led to increased creativity and dynamism within Quebec. I propose that participation in Canada provides more contact with outside perspectives and that an independent Quebec would simply be much more insular, and in the long run, less creative and dynamic as a cultural group.

I welcome your approach and enjoy reading your opening statements with an open mind.



I mostly agree with your premises but not with the conclusion. In the short term Quebec's economic situation is indeed likely to get worse after the independence. However, the long term consequences of continued dependence on external subsidies can be even worse (consider, for instance, the recent developments in Greece).

If I may use an analogy, consider a typical teenager moving out of his/her parents' house. The move generally causes a significant discomfort (paying bills/doing your own laundry, cooking etc.). Dumb choices might be made that would not have happened in the parents' house (e.g., partying all night before an exam). However, without moving out, many would never be able to become functional adults who are fully responsible for their actions.

That being said, obviously not all people living in Quebec will benefit from the move. Had I belonged to its Anglophone minority, I would most likely oppose the independence myself.
Debate Round No. 1



First off, thank you for taking the time to enter into debate with me.

I wish to first restate that my position is that Quebec should not seek independence. My reasons for stating this are that the people of Quebec will face economic strain, lose potential political influence, face the temptation to restrict minority rights, and lose out on cultural exchange.

You have conceded that my premises are correct but have raised some interesting counter-points.

First, I want to suggest the analogy with Greece is excellent but not in the way you think. You suggest that like Greece depending on the wealthier parts of the EU, Quebec dependence on the wealthier western provinces are leading their political leaders to adopt irresponsible public policy. Perhaps, you seem to be saying, independence would lead to increased responsibility on the part of the Quebecois elite.

Let me respond with two points to your analysis.

Quebec is not Greece but flirts with becoming Greece by separating

First, there are key differences between the EU and Canada. For example, the EU is much less integrated than Canada, as provinces are all much more tightly bound to the federal government than EU states are with theirs. Canada is a single state with constituent provinces whereas the EU is a economically integrated group of independent states.

Second, much of what happened to Greece stemmed from a debt loaded economy mixed with using a currency that was not under their direct control. The inability to control their own currency unilaterally prevented Greece from implementing certain monetary policies such as devaluation which could have been helpful (1). In fact, the independence movement in Quebec actually seems to want to move to an arrangement that is much more like the EU. This would result in an independent Quebec becoming more like Greece. Pauline Marois, the last major separatist leader, argued that Quebec when independent should retain Canadian currency and adopt a loose economic association with Canada(2). This would mean that, Quebec like Greece, we would be an independent state with their own fiscal policy, but whose monetary policy was set by a central bank far from home. Quebec would leave major monetary policies in the hands of a foreign country and be unable to use these policies without begging the rest of Canada to go along.

In sum, Quebec currently participates in a unified political and economic unity, Canada, and as such, their fiscal policy is supported by the federal government which mitigates large disparities in wealth between provinces. If Quebec separated, it would be a debt-loaded, high deficit economy, whose currency would seemingly be under the control of a foreign power. At least, Greece has some representation within the EU. Quebec would likely have zero influence on the Bank of Canada and on the Canadian dollar.

Beyond Economics

Thus far, you have only addressed the economics of separation. You have not answered the other three reasons against independence. In fact, you concede that Quebecois society does have a tendency towards coercion of its minorities.

I will restate that independence will produce a Quebec with lower global political influence, the risk of civil liberties being curtailed, and a more insular society with less cultural creativity and dynamism.


In that you have conceded to my arguments in the short run, we seemingly both agree that Quebec independence will worsen the welfare of the Quebecois in the first years of independence. In the long run, I hold the disadvantages would still be present. I have not seen in your response compelling reasons to justify the large risks of separation considering the relative prosperity and freedoms enjoyed by the Quebecois nation as a member of the Canadian confederation.

I await your reply.



Let me address some specific points that you raise.

1) monetary policies:

I believe that government ability to manipulate currency is a very dangerous thing. Devaluation may sometimes serve as a short term palliative. Sometimes it will trigger inflation wave making things only worse (I suspect this fear is what made Greece stick to the euro). But in all cases it will create long-term problems by undermining investors' trust in the economy.

2) lower global political influence:

From my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the Canadian foreign policy I would think that not having people like Jean Chretien or Paul Martin as PMs can make the world a slightly better place.

3) the risk of civil liberties being curtailed, and a more insular society with less cultural creativity and dynamism

Consider the case of Slovakia which in 1993 split from its more developed neighbor. What followed is exactly what you fear - a more insular society with semi-authoritarian political regime and stagnant economy. Five years later the country came to its senses, reelected the government and embarked on the policy of economic reform. A similar development (though over much longer period of time) happened after Ireland split from the UK (GDP per capita, the former now surpasses the latter).

4) well-beings of its minorities

Quebec's non-Francophone minorities are already being discriminated. The economic troubles following independence may actually force Quebec's political elite to treat them with more respect to prevent emigration of non-Francophone specialists. To be honest, I'm not certain how soon (if at all) that would happen, but like I said before - if I were an Anglophone in Quebec, most likely I would also be against independence.

Thank you for the interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 2
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Vote Placed by SocialistAtheistNutjob 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro proved economic hardship and loss of influence, with better sources.