Quebec, independence is not archived

DRUMMONDVILLE – A few days ago, Francois Legault threatened to call a referendum on immigration (because Quebec wants “more powers, to defend the francophonie”) and “maybe also on other topics”. Then, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal arrived for a visit: hugs and kisses with Quebec’s premier. Immediately afterwards, on Sunday, an announcement: Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon told about 500 party members at the PQ’s national council in Drummondville that Quebecers have one “last” chance to protect their language and culture amid what he called an “existential threat” from Ottawa. And he reiterated his commitment to a third referendum on Quebec independence if his party were to take power in the next provincial elections. 

“Our moment will arrive sooner than we think, meaning not at some long-term idealized date, but in a few years — before the end of the decade. We will indeed experience a third referendum” he said. The 47-year-old leader has brought renewed attention to Quebec independence since taking the helm in 2020, following the party’s worst election result in nearly 50 years. But his place at the top of the polls in recent months has given new impetus to the promise of a referendum before 2030.

Just a year and a half after the PQ was deemed moribund, St-Pierre Plamondon’s growing popularity comes despite weak support for independence which recent polls show is supported by only about a third of those polled. But things, apparently, are changing, also due to the increasingly marked discontent with Justin Trudeau’s federal government. Additionally, some observers have attributed the PQ’s rebound to growing dissatisfaction with Premier François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec government. 

St-Pierre Plamondon’s speech provoked strong reactions from oppositions. In a social media post, the premier’s chief strategy officer, Stéphane Gobeil, described the vote promise – which presupposes a PQ victory at the polls in 2026 – as “either arrogance or poorly controlled euphoria”. Interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay accused the PQ leader of “stoking fear to push independence”.

St-Pierre Plamondon, in his speech, did not mince his words: he said that the federal government had invaded Quebec’s jurisdiction, including in matters of housing and health care, sectors marked by serious shortcomings. “Canada has a dark future in store for us” St-Pierre Plamondon said. “It is a regime that wants to crush those who refuse to assimilate”.

The two previous referendums on sovereignty took place in 1980 and 1995. In the latter, Quebec voters came close to opting for independence, as 49.42% ticked “Yes “, while 50.58% crossed “No”. Given the discontent with Justin Trudeau’s government, third time could be the good one for the independentists.

In the pic above, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon speaking to PQ National Council on Sunday in Drummondville (photo from Twitter X – @PaulPlamondon)