Macron risks feud with Trudeau as Canadian separatists seek French help for independence

Queen addresses Quebec Parliament in French in 1964

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France was called on to further “support” Quebec’s independence push as the state looks to split from Canada. Express.co.uk was told that help was needed in order to sustain Quebec’s thriving French heritage. However, in extending support, French President Emmanuel Macron could risk tensions with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who vehemently opposes the Quebec independence movement.

France has had “direct and special relations” with Quebec – based on historic, cultural and economic ties since the Sixties.

Since then, the Parti Québécois – the state’s independence party – has been in power a handful of times.

It failed twice to deliver a breakaway decision, first in 1980, and then in 1995, the latter by just a percentage point.

Its leader, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, told Express.co.uk that in order for Quebec to maintain its rich French cultural history, France must reach out and help the state in its quest for sovereignty.

This could, however, cause friction in relations between Mr Trudeau and Mr Macron, who are allies.

In his first interview with a British or European media outlet since becoming leader last year, talking about a post-independence Quebec, Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said: “We definitely need the support of France because the specific situation of Quebec is that we are only two percent of Francophones in North America.

“The cultural and linguistic pressure on Quebec is very important, so the first step would be for us to have a form of linguistic, cultural, and political support from France – in that context the ties with France need to be very strong.”

In the brief periods when the Parti Québécois has been in power in Quebec, relations with France have been iron strong.

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Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said: “In the event of a Parti Québécois government in 2022, you would see those ties becoming strong again.”

When the state has had a federalist government as it does now, collaboration with the European nation has eased off.

Yet, it remains.

When Parti Québécois first came into power in 1976 the outfit quickly passed legislation that would make it difficult for any future federalist power to fully cut ties with Quebec’s French roots.

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Under then leader René Lévesque, the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) was drawn up – a framework cementing French linguistics as the primary common public language, allowing for Francophones to assume a higher standing in the workplace and society at large.

It did, however, spark a large Anglophone migration out of Quebec to Toronto.

The Parti Québécois have previously expressed happiness with Mr Macron’s leadership, suggesting that the president could be an ally to the cause.

Former leader Pascal Bérubé was “delighted” when Mr Macron decided to bypass Ottawa and go straight to the party when asking if it defended the right to freedom of expression during the Charlie Hebdo controversy last year.

However, other reports suggest that Mr Macron has no plans to support a separatist movement.

In 2017, Canada’s then ambassador to France, Lawrence Cannon, said his election was the “best’ news Canada could have hoped for, suggesting the French leader’s position on Quebec chimed with Mr Trudeau’s.

After speaking with Mr Macron, Mr Cannon told reporters he had detected “little appetite” among the French or among Quebecers regarding “distant speculations about the future of the Canadian federation”.

Meanwhile, recent polling for support for Quebec independence have been less than favourable.

A Leger poll late last year suggested just 36 percent would vote to break away from Canada if given the chance.

Yet, Mr St-Pierre Plamondon said he was confident the state would achieve independence.

Reflecting, he said: “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, it’s just too hard.”

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