Canada and Quebec separatists hail Scots' vote

19th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Canadians -- including Quebec separatists -- congratulated Scots on Friday for holding a referendum on Britain's future, but they were split on what the result means for Canadian unity.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird held up Scotland's rejection of independence to Canadians as an example of nations choosing strength in unity.

But a Quebec secessionist leader hailed the simple rules of Scotland's referendum -- a simple majority of "Yes" votes would have been enough to trigger a split.

"Canada welcomes this decision," Baird said, noting that "the United Kingdom has been an overwhelmingly positive force in the world.

"The peaceful, open and democratic way in which two very different but sincere views was handled is a credit to the Scottish and UK governments," he added.

"Congratulations to the Scots for their inspiring effort," said interim Parti Quebecois leader Stephane Bedard, calling on Quebec separatists to come together.

Ahead of the referendum in Scotland, there were concerns across Canada that a win by the "Yes" side might awaken Quebec's dormant independence movement.

Quebec voters twice rejected splitting from the rest of Canada in 1980 and 1995 referendums.

Recent polls show two out of three Quebecers do not want to reopen the thorny debate, while the movement itself has been fractured into several political parties that are at odds on the path forward.

The Parti Quebecois -- the standard bearer for Quebec's secessionist movement -- meanwhile, has been struggling to regroup after being driven from power earlier this year.

In Scotland, the "No" side secured 55.30 percent of the vote against 44.70 percent for the pro-independence "Yes" camp.

Bedard said Ottawa would now be compelled to accept a lower threshold for victory than a qualified majority.

Canadian Conservative MP and Canadian unity advocate Peter Goldring, however, called the Scottish referendum "a sham of democratic principles."

"No political party, business, organized structure or even the constitution of Canada would ever allow an important decision to be decided by a mere 50 percent plus one of the population," he said.

© 2014 AFP

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