The scale of the right wing post-election temper tantrum is breathtaking. I guess that I should learn to expect anything from people who talk about "FEMA concentration camps" or who live in constant fear of impending martial law, but the shear number of conservative lunatics in America keeps surprising me. As of this afternoon some 700,000 people had signed petitions asking for secession.
Part of the fun of winning this election is getting to laugh at people like that. You guys at this site did a great job. This was a not just a great victory for Americans, the whole world owes you a debt of gratitude for your hard work. By all means, enjoy yourselves.
I've been reading some posts from people saying to "let 'em go". As someone who lives in a country where secession is a very real possibility, I would not suggest talk like that. Quebec separatism is a real problem for us. I'm not sure many Americans know just how close Canada came to actually breaking up.
We've had two referendums in Quebec concerning independence. Separatists try to soft-sell it as "sovereignty", but their goal is clear. The first referendum federalists won in a walk by 20 points in 1980. The second one wasn't so easy.
In 1995, many Quebecers were upset with the stagnant economy and were angry about perceived slights to Quebec by other provinces. The premier of Quebec established a referendum on sovereignty using a very confusing ballot question. With the help of a charismatic leader, they managed to convince large numbers people who didn't support independence to vote "yes" for sovereignty as a protest . Many people thought of it as a non-binding way to voice their displeasure. As it turns out, the premier of Quebec was intending to treat any vote of 50% +1 as a clear mandate for independence. If he had won, he would have declared Quebec independent the next day.
The polls right before the vote were very close. Those of us who didn't live in Quebec couldn't do much except watch powerlessly. Early returns on election night were strongly in favor of sovereignty. Slowly, over the course of what seemed like hours, the NO side steadily gained ground.
At the end of the night, the results were 50.1 - 49.9 against sovereignty. The margin of victory grew later to just over 1%. It was probably bigger, but in one of the worst examples of election fraud in our history, some 80,000 NO votes (almost 2% of the vote) were discarded in primarily English speaking polling areas for offenses as frivolous as marking the X too big, or not centered enough on the ballot.
I'll never forget that night. I was studying at university in Ontario at the time. When it became clear that the NO side had won, thousands of students flooded the streets. Traffic was held up for what seemed like hours in all directions. We stayed out long into the night cheering, hugging, waving flags and bursting into spontaneous O Canada. It's one of my favorite memories.
Sadly, Canadians have grown apathetic about national unity. One poll conducted last February showed that 49% of Canadians "don't really care if Quebec separates from Canada."
The fact that we live in a country with so much diversity is a great source of pride to me. I love the fact that Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world. We welcome people of all cultures and faiths. We encourage people to keep their cultural heritage when they immigrate to Canada.
If Quebec leaves, we will lose a part of our soul. Our country was founded by two very different peoples and has managed to stay together through some difficult times. Our tolerance is a big part of who we are.
One of the things that I love about the US is how different all of your states are. I've visited many of your so-called "red states" and have found the people to be almost universally friendly, kind and helpful. Your unity is a big source of your strength. To all of the "let 'em go" folks out there, be careful what you wish for.