Ignatieff responds to furor over Quebec separatism comments


Nothing shakes up the country’s pundits and politicians like a few comments on national unity from a prominent Canadian. In February, an uproar followed remarks made by Liberal MP—and son of a legendary prime minister—Justin Trudeau regarding his willingness to support Quebec separatism if the country continues down the path the Conservatives are taking in Ottawa.

On Tuesday, it was Michael Ignatieff’s turn. The former Liberal leader prompted a flurry of reactions after he told the BBC, in an interview about the prospect of a Scottish referendum on independence, that “over time the two societies will move ever, ever further apart. That is I think what the Canadian example will tell you. . . It’s kind of a way station. You stop there for a while. But I think the logic eventually is independence, full independence.”

Today, Ignatieff responded by circulating a statement to media institutions like the CBC and theGlobe and Mail:

“The interview on the issue of the referendum on Scottish independence made clear that Canada offers an internationally recognized model for the conciliation of political differences. I also shared my concerns about the future of this country: we must not drift apart and we must not allow illusions about each other to divide us. Canada is bigger than our differences. We need to affirm our faith in a country that has always proved strong enough to embrace the national identities, language and culture of us all.”

“I oppose the separation of Canada and Quebec, as I oppose the separation of Scotland and the United Kingdom, and we need to face any threats to our unity with determination and resolve. The argument we need to make to our fellow citizens who choose the separatist option ought to appeal to hope rather than fear. We are stronger together than apart, stronger in the embrace of our differences and stronger in the prosperous life we have built together over the centuries.”

While commentators heaped scorn (or praise, as in the case of Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois) on Ignatieff, many missed the CROP poll on the Quebec sovereignty movement published by La Presse on Tuesday. It found that 36 per cent of Quebeckers support independence, a lacklustre figure when compared with figures from the 1990s.

Filed under:

Ignatieff responds to furor over Quebec separatism comments

  1. “It found that 36 per cent of Quebeckers support independence, a lacklustre figure when compared with figures from the 1990s.”

    Considering how often Quebecers are portrayed as fickle, emotional voters in Macleans’ magazine, I find it a bit silly to suddenly hint that a trend can be trusted so much the topic doesn’t bear discussion by Ignatieff or anyone else.

  2. For the love of god, could we forget about this anoying subject : the independance. Being myself a quebecker, let’s just say that this topic is “over” for anyone that surrounds me and my folks (which are tipical mid-class workers who don’t care for that kind of existencial question). We’re in 2012, if every politician could “move on”, i would be grateful. Thanks in advance.

  3. “Just remember, especially in politics, that people who make statements as facts without knowing what they are talking about are just opening their mouth and letting their belly rumble.”

    In the statement circulated by Michael Ignatieff he states –

    “…as I oppose the separation of Scotland and the United Kingdom,…”

    That part of his statement shows that he doesn’t know what he is talking about with regard to the subject of Scottish independence. He wrongly gives the impression that Scotland and the United Kingdom are two distinct entities. The actual facts are very different. For detailed reasons see my blog THE ‘SANITIZATION’ OF SCOTTISH HISTORY, blog post –

    ‘Independence: Scotland is VERY different from Quebec’ http://follonblogs.blogspot.com/2011/12/independence-scotland-is-very-different.html

    Michael Follon

Sign in to comment.