Marois visit to Scotland more symbolism than substance

Jan 29, 2013 | News

Quebec and Scotland share a common struggle for independence. PHOTO BY SHAZIA ISLAM

Quebec and Scotland share a common struggle for independence. PHOTO BY SHAZIA ISLAM

By Shazia Islam

Tuesday’s meeting in Edinburgh between Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, is a ceremonial one, said an expert on Canadian political parties and leaders.

Nelson Wiseman, associate professor of political science at U of T, told Humber News that the meeting was notable, but that he didn’t see any major significance to it.

“This is largely a symbolic visit,” said Wiseman.

Marois echoed Wiseman’s sentiment at a recent news conference. “I will obviously not interfere in their politics or decisions,” said Marois in a report by CBC.

But Graeme Morton, chair and director of the Scottish Studies Foundation at the University of Guelph, told Humber News that the meeting could solidify an exchange of support for independence in the two regions.

“If Scotland can get support from Quebec for its campaign for independence, obviously that’ll feed back to Quebec and their issues on ceding from Canada,” said Morton.

The majority of Scottish people still support remaining with Britain, but that the direction might change closer to the referendum in the fall of 2014, he said.

“I think the climate in Scotland at the moment is certainly for increasing power and the people are very pleased with how the Scottish parliament is running and the work they’ve done, but there is more opposition against independence,” said Morton.

The meeting between the two leaders had experts exploring the differences between the two separatist campaigns.

“The fundamental difference is that the British government has committed itself to the referendum,” Wiseman told Humber News. “Quebec hasn’t committed to a specific timetable with no specific question. Its 1995 referendum question was truly a joke.”

In 1995, Quebec voted 50.58 per cent against separation from Canada in its second referendum since 1980.