Why Does Quebec Want to Separate From Canada?

Jamie McCaffrey/CC-BY 2.0

Quebec’s distinctive language and culture have led many of its residents to ask for separation from the rest of Canada from time to time. Quebec has long been different from the rest of Canada, even when the whole region was still part of the British Empire rather than an independent country. However, Quebec has never mustered enough electoral will to vote for independence.

The Parti Québécois has long led the fight for separation of the French-speaking part of Canada from the rest of the country. The division between Quebec and the rest of the country is rooted in the fact that while the French settled Quebec during the exploration period, the English ended up taking control of the province from the French. As a result, that part of Canada was left feeling a bit oppressed as the rest of the area was settled by the British.

Since 1970, the question of separatism for Quebec has roiled the country. Quebec is not only a large part of the country, it is a crucial one in terms of economic and industrial infrastructure. Its separation from Canada would leave a big hole in the middle of one of North America’s most important nations, and it is difficult to predict the long-term effects of such a move. Because of this uncertainty, the referendums calling for Quebec to leave Canada have never carried the day.