The close result of the October ’95 referendum in Quebec has more people than ever asking: if Canada is divisible, why not Quebec? The question of partition is one of those rare issues that could really change the political and geographic landscapes of Quebec. This straightforward account of the history and future of the idea of partition will be an invaluable resource for those who want to understand the pros, cons, and various possibilities of the partition option. McAlpine argues that Quebec cannot separate from Canada and expect to retain its present borders. The Partition Principle is not an analysis of the Quebec separation movement, nor does it explore what, if any, modifications are needed to the Canadian constitution or governmental administrative arrangements to “renew federalism.” In exploring the partition option, McAlpine neither seeks to legitimize brinkmanship games nor puts forth a call to arms. He simply examines partition as a strategy to be enacted only if all other strategies to unite Canada fail. He maps out the specifics of how Quebec might be partitioned in the event of separation, and devotes special attention to aboriginal land claims and the status of Montreal.
The merits of the partition principle must be debated now, while we still have the time and energy to do so. As McAlpine says, the eve of a referendum or an election is a poor time to explore options for the future of this country.
Trevor McAlpine is a Montreal businessman.
Published: September 1996
Dimensions: 5 x 8 in.