…all human interaction, without exception, should be based on voluntary agreement. No one should be forced to associate with anyone else against his will. – Dr. Walter Block, Secession, 2007.
In a previous posting, I highlighted the fact that separation for Québec is a “no-brainer”. Not only is it straightforward because a referendum is not required, but the benefits are substantial, such as the release from their share of the Federal Government’s debt and from costly foreign wars (Note 1). If, and when, Québec does secede from Canada, it is reasonable to assume that the citizens will be looking forward to not only a change in government, but in approach. After all, the approaches of the past have resulted in:
- Astronomical financial debt: Chris Horlacher pointed out that Québec’s provincial debt is equivalent to $240,000 for every family of four. It is a debt that will ensure unending, exorbitant taxes for many decades to come;
- Draconian speech laws: James E. Miller observed that “Québec language laws are nothing but an attempt to placate a sect of voters and centralize power over the province.”
- Anti-business regulations: Chris Ferreira reported that “While Alberta gained nearly 100,000 jobs in 2011, Québec lost 56,000 jobs.”
- Increasing large and intrusive government: The Toronto Sun reported that the provincial government “doubled the number of agencies, boards and commissions since… 2003.”
The large debt, language tyranny, anti-business laws and expansive government are exactly the opposite of what Québecers need to live better lives. It has become so bad that people are speaking with their feet by leaving the province. As Pierre Guy-Veer reported, “Many people, exasperated with an ever growing government, have decided to leave La Belle Province for good.” The Toronto Sun recently reported that Formula 1 racer Jacques Villeneuve permanently left Québec “because of the province’s language laws, business climate and the general ‘morose ambiance.’” I recently spoke with a gentleman from Montreal who, too, has given up on Québec and has started looking for work in Toronto. He commented that many of his friends have done the same.
Note that all of these negative effects and “morose ambiance” have taken hold under the watchful eye of Ottawa’s federal brain-trust. It is not surprising considering that Prime Minister Harper and his predecessors have consistently supported a regime of increasing regulatory socialism, foreign military aggression, and the advancement of the bureaucratic-welfare state. Furthermore, Caleb McMillan recently pointed out that “Confederation was a coup performed by British crony-capitalists and power-hungry politicians.” Why on earth should Québecers continue to relinquish power to the modern-day incarnations of such bandits?
The way out for Québecers is to begin with secession from Canada. Only secession will allow for a clean break from the central planners in Ottawa and the activist judges that sit on the Supreme Court of Canada. The great benefits of secession will only be realized, however, if Québecers reject socialism and adopt the principles of individual liberty, private property ownership and a free economy unencumbered by oppressive government regulation. A new Québec will need new ideas, and what better ideas to adopt than those of Von Mises as expressed in Human Action and Planning for Freedom, or Rothbard in For a New Liberty ? Planning for socialism has failed, so shouldn’t freedom be given a try? (Note 2)
Québecers would do well to adopt the standard set by one of their greatest sons, Canada’s 7th Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier who wrote, “The role of government is not to force action in any one direction but to remove barriers to man’s own efforts to undertake personal and social improvement.” After all, prosperity arises most quickly when men are free to trade with whomever they choose, to invent whatever they wish and to bring their inventions to market in any way they see fit. Why should the average Québecer be denied a better life, something that the status quo ensures he will not have? The political regimes of the past and present have proven themselves to be failures, so the citizens of Québec have every right to demand something better.
It is important to note that Québec is not alone in its quest for sovereignty. Independence is being pursued by Americans south of the border. In November, 2012, the L.A. Times reported that “The White House has now received secession petitions from all 50 states by citizens requesting that the administration ‘peacefully grant’ them the opportunity to form their own sovereign government.” The petition from Texas obtained more than 100,000 signatures. Infowars recently reported that “…ten counties in northern Colorado … are discussing plans to secede from the state … North Colorado would have a population of more than 300,000 people…” The population of Iceland is 321,000, so North Colorado would be in good company. Note that Iceland was one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world until the draconian, anti-business rule of the Danish king was terminated in 1944. After independence, Iceland’s citizens became free to engage in global trade as they saw fit and their prosperity mushroomed. Icelanders now enjoy one of the highest standards of living, the cleanest air and the most wholesome foods in Europe. (Note 3)
Secession has found appeal within the border of Canada, too. For example, Peter Jaworski and Matt Bufton described Canada’s “one month republic” that was created by the Mayor of York in 1837. (The picture of the flag of the Republic of Canada is shown at the top of this article.) In 2000 the Nisga’a Nation was created within the province of British Columbia. Although the citizens of Nisga’a are not truly autonomous (they are still subject to Canadian provincial and federal laws and courts), the Nisga’a Final Agreement Act does give the people increased autonomy. A number of independence parties exist at the provincial level, such as the Western Independence Party of Saskatchewan.
Secession would serve Newfoundland and Labrador very well, also. As Pat MacAdam reported, the province’s fishing rights were routinely traded-away by Ottawa to foreign governments in exchange for trade concessions. As a consequence, Newfoundland’s fisheries were quickly depleted. Adding insult to injury, the province has had to relinquish the control of its off-shore oil to Ottawa’s self-interested bureaucrats. If Newfoundland was able to independently develop its off-shore resources, it would no longer be a “have-not” province – it would instead be the “Alberta of the east”. Rather than being a model of freedom and harmony as Harper would lead us to believe, the Canadian model has been one of subjugation and waste insofar as Newfoundland and Labrador is concerned.
Dr. David Gorden explains, “If government does not protect the rights of individuals, then individuals may end their allegiance to it.” How can it be claimed that Ottawa is protecting the rights of individuals in Québec when it allows, and even promotes, heavy intrusion by the state, crushing taxes and high monetary inflation? How is Ottawa protecting the rights of Newfoundlanders when it steals the benefits of the province’s off-shore oil reserves?
Dr. Walter Block points out that “Those who are not free to secede are in effect (partial) slaves to a king, or to a tyrannous majority under democracy.” In Canada, the people are accustomed to being slaves to the flag, the Prime Minister and the Queen. The federal government claims that people must remain slaves until they meet the criteria highlighted in its Clarity Act of 2000. However, as I mentioned in my previous article, the Act is a sham and has no relevance to a population that has declared secession. After all, secession means that the laws of the government and the rulings of its courts have no effect on those who have declared independence.
Finally, it is important to note that secession is not only available to the provinces, but it is available to any group of individuals within a province or city. In 1967, the Rathnelly suburb of Toronto declared its independence as an ironic way of celebrating Canada’s 100th birthday. In 1997, the residents of L’Anse-Saint-Jean, Québec, declared themselves subjects of the Kingdom of L’Anse-Saint-Jean as a means to boost tourism. In both cases the efforts were meant to be humorous. However, it is not difficult to imagine the degree of unease felt by the power elite in Ottawa at the very thought of such efforts taking place even though they were tongue-in-cheek. Once people get the idea in their heads that secession and freedom are possible and not difficult to achieve, and that is it not radicals that pursue secession but rather clear-thinking, morally grounded individuals who value peace and prosperity, then whatever the politicians in Ottawa feel will be irrelevant.
So, let us celebrate the rights of individuals to not be slaves. Let us look forward to a day when Québec celebrates sovereignty over its land and Newfoundland and Labrador claims the right to control its off-shore oil reserves. Let us work towards a time when cities, neighborhoods and rural communities decide to make better lives for themselves and their families – separate from the tentacles of Ottawa and the multitude of duplicitous premiers and mayors and all of the self-serving bureaucrats that feed off of their productive labour. (Note 4)
1) Comments to the original article expressed fear that a separate Québec might open the gates of oppression against English-speaking citizens, or might provoke an invasion by the Canadian military.
2) A separate Québec would also benefit the other provinces because of the elimination of the $2.4 billion wasted each year on Ottawa’s failed national bilingualism program.
3) Also, Icelandic courts have sentenced corrupt banking executives to time in jail, something that no other country has dared attempt.
4) The author wishes to thank Dr. Walter Block for his encouragement and input in the writing of this article.