Quebec independence 'by no means settled': Duceppe
Quebec separatist leader Gilles Duceppe told an American audience on Friday that the issue of independence for Canada's mainly French-speaking province is "by no means settled."
"The question of Quebec's future is by no means settled," the Bloc Quebecois leader said in a speech to the Woodrow Wilson Center and Hudson Institute as part of a two-day visit to Washington.
"Some who are nostalgic for a Canadian dream that no longer exists may disagree, but a sovereign Quebec will be a win-win for Quebecers, for Canada, for the United States and for the world," he said.
Quebecers twice voted in referendums on splitting from the rest of Canada in 1980 and 1995. Federalists only narrowly won the last ballot.
A federalist party led by Premier Jean Charest currently holds a majority in the provincial legislature, but separatists are hoping to regain power in elections expected at the latest in 2013 as support for Charest dwindles.
"Once Quebecers have spoken, and they choose independence, the international community will be called on to recognize a new country," said Duceppe.
"We expect the US government not to interfere in our internal politics when Quebecers make their decision," he said, alluding to former US president Bill Clinton's comments in support of a united Canada prior to the 1995 referendum.
"Secondly, I'm counting on the United States to be a decisive player in the event that the 'yes' side wins a referendum, and to push for negotiations and a quick and orderly resolution between Canada and Quebec."
Canada, Quebec and the United States have "enormous economic interests" at stake, he noted.
Washington currently has a strong ally in Canada. "If Quebec becomes a sovereign nation, the United States will have two strong allies for the price of one."
© 2010 AFP