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                               4 of 4 DOCUMENTS

            Copyright 1996 FDCHeMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
           Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony

                        September 25, 1996, Wednesday

SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING TESTIMONY

LENGTH: 3933 words

HEADLINE:  TESTIMONY September 25, 1996 JOSEPH T. JOCKEL PROFESSOR OF CANADIAN
STUDIES ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS WESTERN HEMISPHERE
SITUATION IN QUEBEC

BODY:


    PREPARED STATEMENT

    JOSEPH T. JOCKEL

    Professor of Canadian Studies

    St. Lawrence University

    Canton, New York

    For hearings on Quebec separatism and the U.S., 25 Sept. 1996

    House Committee on International Relations

    Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

    SUMMARY

    1.  At the moment
, events point in the direction of, within a few years, Quebec's leaving Canada and becoming a sovereign state.

    2.  Most Americans would no doubt deeply regret or even be shocked at Canada's breaking up.  Nonetheless, the Quebec independence movement deserves our respect (although not our support) because of its commitment to non-violent change to be achieved only at the ballot box.

    3.  If Quebec becomes independent, we can expect what remains of Canada to hold together in the short run.  There is very good reason to believe, as well, that it will hold together in the long run.

    4.  The official approach of the U. S., which has been based on staying out of the Canadian debate while gingerly signalling the hope that Canada remains united, has been a foreign policy success shared by all administrations since
that of President Carter.  The Clinton administration's "no assurances" modification makes sense.  It has obliquely signalled that Quebec would not "automatically" be admitted to several accords with the U.S., above all NAFTA.

    5.  There is inherent tension between the interests of the U.S.  before Quebec independence (should that enter occur) and thereafter.  U.S. interests today are clear: they lie with Canada's remaining united.  But after Quebec independence it surely then would be in the interest of the U.S. to pursue warm and close relations with Quebec (which would pursue a reciprocal policy towards the U.S.) while retaining them with Canada.  It would also be in the interest of the U.S. for Canada to pursue close ties with Quebec.

    6.  A vote for independence by the Quebec electorate would necessitate numerous new decisions being reached in Washington.  The administration could very well face the immediate decision of how to respond to a Quebec declaration
of independence that was issued in violation of the Constitution of Canada, over the objections of the Government of Canada.  The terms under which Quebec were to be admitted to NAFTA and other economic accords would have to be negotiated by the administration and approved by Congress.  NORAD and other bilateral defense arrangement would have to be adjusted and Quebec"s admission to NATO considered.  Perhaps the most difficult decision for Washington would be how much it would want to encourage Canada to pursue a close economic relationship with Quebec.

    1.  THE OUTLOOK, CANADA/QUEBEC

    Right now, the outlook is not good for Quebec's remaining in Canada after the next Quebec independence referendum, expected within a few years.  To be sure, a Majority of Quebecers seems prepared to vote to stay in Canada if there are significant constitutional changes; but the rest of the country ("English Canada") has not yet been able to bring itself to agree to such changes. Underlining these constitutional differences between Quebec and English Canada is an evert deeper one about the very nature of the Canada itself.

    Most Quebecers now see Canada as a country with two major cultures,  societies, peoples, or nations, their own and English Canada's.  Many Quebecers, of course, have also already drawn the conclusion that their society now merits
its own sovereign state.  Still, most would be content to remain in Canada if it were constitutionally adjusted to reflect what they see as its fundamentally binary character.  This would entail such steps as constitutional recognition of
the distinctiveness of Quebec society, limitation of Ottawa's powers, and transfer of powers to the Quebec government.

    English Canadians shy away from this binary conception of the country, preferring to see it as inhabited by one Canadian people, some of whom speak English, some of whom speak French, who come from many cultures, and all of whom have the same rights.  In this context Quebec seems to them to be asking for special, undeserved rights.

    There are additional obstacles to English Canada's agreeing to Quebec's constitutional demands. over the past decade there have been two spectacular, failed attempts at constitutional revision that have left English Canada constitutionally exhausted." During the last attempt, the constitutional agenda grew beyond just Quebec's demands to include those of other groups, especially aboriginals, while the precedent was firmly established that any proposed changes would be referred to popular referendum.  Many Canadians have thus concluded that their Constitution is, for all attempts and purposes, unamendable.

    There is, as well, another critical reason for many English Canadians to resist constitutional change that would involve transferring power from Ottawa: it might make Canada unworkable.  Canada already is one of the most decentralized federations in the world.  In short, in a point that will be returned to below, many English Canadians are, in effect, saying no Quebecers that they are not prepared to turn the country constitutionally inside out to meet Quebec's demands.

    Nonetheless, someone just might find the magic formula that could satisfy both English Canadians and Quebecers.  The federal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien has thus far avoided formal federal- provincial negotiations on
the constitution, although recently two provincial premiers, and the leader of the federalist forces in the Quebec legislature have called for such talks.  In selling any potential constitutional solution to Quebecers, though, the federal
government and other federalists will face a handicap: the separatist (government Parti Quebecois government will brand just about any potential constitutional solution as insufficient.

    2.  THE QUEBEC INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

    The sympathies of most Americans (if they think of Canada at all) go, no doubt, with the Canadian federalist side.  Perhaps at the deepest level we automatically apply to the Canadian case the lesson of our own civil war:
national integrity is precious. (This is not to suggest in any way that Canada faces its own civil war.) As well, many Americans, just like many Canadians, find it very hard to believe that the future of Canada, a country with the
second-highest level of material welfare in the world and perhaps the highest standard of living in the world, is very much in doubt.

    Many Americans are also troubled at the thought that the Canadian lesson in tolerance may fail.  President Clinton reflected this sentiment last year when, during his visit to Ottawa, he quoted President Truman.  "Canada's eminent
position today," Truman said, "is a tribute to the patience, tolerance, and strength of character of her people.  Canada's notable achievements of national unity and progress through accommodation, moderation and forbearance can be
studied with profit by sister nations."

    It may also be the case that many Americans are suspicious of the Quebec independence movement because they identify with English Canadians who speak the same language and, trying to draw parallels with the American domestic situation they see Quebecers as an upstart linguistic minority.  In reality, Quebecers are, to use somewhat older Canadian parlance, not recent immigrants at all but one of the country's "founding peoples"; while French-speaking Quebecers constitute, far from a minority, about 80% of the province's population.

    But whatever our sentiments (and, as, will be discussed below, our interests) we can respect the Quebec Independence movement.  It is committed to nonviolent change to be achieved only at the ballot box, in the form of
elections and referenda.  Not only is the independentist Parti Quebecois (PQ) in power at the provincial level but its sister party, the Bloc Quebecois holds most of the seats from Quebec in the federal House of Commons.

    It cannot be said, though, that the independence movement is committed solely to change in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.  The PQ envisaged issuing a unilateral declaration of independence, in apparent violation of the
Canadian Constitution had there been a "yes" vote in the 1995.  This could very well again be the party's strategy for the next referendum.  As will be discussed below, this would pose a problem for the U.S. government.  Quebec independentists assert that whatever such a declarations status under the Canadian Constitution, it would be legal under the relevant provisions of international law.


    The PQ is, of course, the author or defender of Quebec's language legislation favoring French, which has drawn some attention in the U.S., intensifying an impression of Quebec "intolerance." This is not the place to go
extensively into such a complex issue.  It can be briefly said, though, that as regrettable as Quebec's current legislation regulating public signage is, English-speaking Quebecers are very far from an oppressed minority.  There is, for example, in Quebec a complete English-speaking school system, extending through the university level, supported by public funds.  There is a similar network of publicly funded English-speaking social services.  It is hard to imagine any U.S. state financially supporting similar services for a linguistic minority group.

    3.  CANADA: FURTHER FRAGMENTATION VS. UNITY

    If Quebec becomes independent, Canada undoubtedly would be a geographically awkward country.  So the idea cannot be dismissed out of hand that, in the long run, Canada, without Quebec would divide into further fragments.

    Yet it is equally likely that what would then just be English Canada would hold together as one country.  At the very least, the large majority of English Canadians simply do not want to become Americans and holding Canada together
would remain the best way to accomplish this.  In fact, the history of Canada is a history of not wanting to become American.

    Beyond this it simply is not the case that the only thing that distinguishes Canada from the United States is Quebec.  There are values, which constitute the basis of a national culture, that English Canadians want to protect.  Perhaps
Americans can be forgiven for overlooking this, for even two Canadian prime ministers, Jean Chretien and Brian Mulroney, both notably from Quebec, have implied that Canada does not exist without Quebec, and English Canadians tend to spend a good deal of time agonizing over their national identity.

    Yet any American who travels across the Canadian border notices not only the similarities with his own country, but the sometimes striking differences as well.  Briefly put, English Canada, across its geographically far-flung parts,
is a more organized, calmer, less individualistic and less violent place than the United States, although at the same time it is less economically and culturally dynamic and secure.

    In one sense, holding Canada together will become easier if Quebec goes, for it has been the province most consistently pushing for the decentralization of federal authority and resisting Canada- wide standards and programs. As pointed out above, many English Canadians have been saying, in effect, to Quebec that they like the country the way it is.  In other words, Quebec nationalism has been encountering English Canadian nationalism.  This latter nationalism could very well be the glue that holds Canada together in the long run, despite the trauma of Quebec's leaving and the geographic awkwardness of what would remain.

    Regardless of Canada's long-term future, there is very little reason to believe that English Canada would divide into several pieces in the short run, i.e. , shortly after Quebec' s departure. (Indeed, far from splitting up, many Canadians are determined to hold on to as much territory as possible and are insisting that Quebec could take into sovereignty less territory than it now possesses as a province of Canada.) So the foreign policy challenges facing the U.S. across its northern border on the eve of Quebec independence, and for years thereafter, would be determining and pursuing the kind of relationship it will want to have with Canada and Quebec, and the kind of relationship the U.S. will want to encourage Canada and Quebec to have with one another.  In the longer run, should any tendencies toward further fragmentation begin to appear in Canada, it would be in the interest of the United States to discourage them, in
favor of stable, well-known North American partnerships.

    4.  RECENT U.S. POLICY

    Official U.S. policy concerning the possibility of Canada's breaking up has largely remained constant since the Carter Administration, although it was significantly altered, in part, by the Clinton Administration during the lead-up to the 1995 Quebec independence referendum.

    The policy has consisted, in essence, of a firm determination to stay out of the debate in Quebec and :he rest of Canada over the country's future.  In form, it has consisted of two elements.  The first has been a carefully phrased,
formulaic public statement, often called the "mantra", the exact wording of which has changed over time.  A recent version of the mantra has run, "The United States enjoys excellent relations with a strong and united Canada. Canada's political future is naturally for Canadians to decide." The second element has been a refusal on the part of U.S. officialdom to enter into hypothetical discussions of how the U.S. would react if Quebec moved decisively toward independence or actually became sovereign.

    Clinton administration officials altered the U.S. government's public pronouncements in reaction to assertions made in 1994 and 1995 by Parti Quebecois leaders to the effect that Quebec "automatically" would enter into several important international arrangements, NAFTA among them.  For example, the original draft Sovereignty Act introduced by the PQ government in 1994 and mailed to every household in the province included the assertion that "in accordance with the rules of international law, Quebec shall assume the obligations and enjoy the rights set forth in the relevant treaties and
international conventions and agreements to which Canada or Quebec is a party on the date on which Quebec becomes a sovereign country, in particular, NAFTA ".

    Such an interpretation, of course, is not at all shared in Washington, especially not in Congress.  Serving U.S. officials, constrained by the mantra, could not at first openly respond to the assertions of "automaticity." Nonetheless, they soon hit upon the formulation, used by then-Ambassador Jaries Blanchard and Secretary of State Warren Christopher that "no assurances had been given the Quebec government about the nature of future ties with the U.S.

    This long-standing U.S. policy, as modified by the Clinton Administration, continues to make sense.  Above all, Canada is a democratic country that has the right to decide its own future without the interference of the U S. government.
The "no assurances" modification has severely limited the opportunity of some in Quebec to, in effect, take advantage of the official U.S. silence.

    There is another important reason to continue with the current official policy of staying out of the debate in Quebec and the rest of Canada.  As will be discussed in the next section, there is inherent tension between the
interests of the U.S. before Quebec becomes independent (should that ever occur) and thereafter.  As a result, the more the U.S. government were openly to discuss the exact nature of the relationship which it would be in its interest
to pursue with a sovereign Quebec, the more likely Quebec independence would become.

    5.  U.S. INTERESTS BEFORE AND AFTER QUEBEC INDEPENDENCE

    There is inherent tension between U.S. interests before Quebec becomes independent (should that ever occur) and after independence.

    It is clearly in the interest of the United States that Canada remain united.  Canada purchases more U.S. exports than any other country and is the most important location of U.S. foreign investment.  It is (more or less) a single economy and market, under the authority (again more or less) of one federal government.  The division of that Canadian market between several sovereign states can only create new uncertainties and risks for Americans. Since Americans also hold a significant amount of the debt incurred by the Canadian federal and provincial governments here, too, the country's breakup could only lead to unhappy uncertainties.

    During the first few decades of the Cold War, Canadian territory and airspace played an essential role in the defense of North America against nuclear attack.  This has become far less important with the shift in the threat away from manned bombers towards ballistic missiles, since Canadians operate none of the missile detection systems, none of which is located in Canada.  More recently, the demise of the Soviet Union has led to a further relaxation of
concerns.  So Quebec independence would pose no fundamental security threat to the U.S.  Still, if Quebec became independent there would be issues concerning the vestigial North American defense tasks that are still necessary which the U.S. would much rather not have to renegotiate.  Moreover, a Canada that had lost with Quebec independence a substantial portion of its population and GDP would have trouble playing a major, constructive role in world affairs.

    In addition to economic and military concerns, Canada and the U.S. share responsibility for the protection of the North American environment.  Several environmental agreements between them would have to be renegotiated.  So would a
host of other functional arrangements between the two countries.  According to the Canadian government's count, there are 220 treaties and other agreements between our two countries.

    Nonetheless, it would be in the interest of the U.S., if Canada did in fact break up, to pursue close relations with both Canada and Quebec, as well as for Canada and Quebec themselves to establish as close a relationship as possible.

    Faced with an irrevocable Canadian breakup, the U.S. would have every incentive to continue to pursue the free flow of goods, capital, and services in North America and to put in place the international arrangements necessary between it and the countries to its north, including Quebec membership in NAFTA. To the extent that the Canadian economic "space" could be retained by Canadians and Quebecers, the U.S. would also benefit.  The U.S. would also have every
incentive to foster Quebec's membership and active, constructive participation in North American security and world affairs and to enter in discussions with Canada and Quebec providing for the continuity of that host of other North American trans-border arrangements, involving, just to name a few, environmental protection, taxation, telecommunications, transportation, law enforcement, agriculture, health, and pensions.


    In other words, Americans, including officials of the U.S.  government, have to hope fervently that the Canadian federalist forces will prevail.  But if they do not the arguments of the Quebec separatists for the establishment of close
Canada-Quebec-U.S.  relations should become convincing from the U.S. point of view.  Quebec would be eager for close relations with the U.S. and Canada.  As a result, the most problematic aspect of Quebec independence for the U.S. could very well be convincing English Canadians who would be angry at the breakup of their country -- of the benefits of close Canada-Quebec economic ties within a broader North American framework.

    6.  IMMEDIATE POLICY CHOICES

    If the Quebec electorate does vote "yes" in the next independence referendum that is expected in the next several years, the policy of non-involvement that has served the U.S. government so well for twenty-years obviously would five to be abandoned.  Some major decision areas are outlined below:

    - The administration might face the Immediate and potentially very thorny decision of how to respond to a unilateral declaration of independence issued by Quebec, in violation of the Constitution of Canada, and over the formal
objection of the Government of Canada.  The ramifications could extend beyond North America if (as hoped for by Quebec sovereignists) swift recognition were granted by France and pressure exerted by the French government on other EU countries.

    - The administration and congress would have to determine the terms under which, from the U.S. point of view, Quebec would be admitted to NAFTA and other economic accords.  Several matters would have to be negotiated with Quebec in such areas as agriculture, textiles, and cultural industries.

    - Quebec's departure from Canada would probably precipitate an overhaul of the formal institutions of Canada-U.S. defense cooperation, probably leading to less formal arrangements.  Quebec sovereignists have been eager to assure the U.S. of their interest to cooperate in defense matters, including joining the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), now maintained as a joint Canada- U.S. entity.

    But even before the end of the Cold War, Canada, quite simply, was becoming less and less important to the physical security of the United States.  As pointed out above, not only had the manned bomber threat declined, but no system
to detect ballistic missiles was located in Canada or operated by the Canadian Forces.  Should the U.S.  ever decide to construct a BMD system, Canadian territory would not be necessary for any of the technologies presently envisaged.  NORAD, no longer necessary as a command for the protection of either country has been retained not only to provide for the bilateral coordination of vestigial defense and sovereignty protection efforts, but also as a channel for Canada-U.S. cooperation in space surveillance and other military space-based efforts.  The Canadian Armed Forces, already hard-hit by recent budget cuts, would be financially devastated by the impact of Quebec independence.  Under these circumstances it would be easiest for the U.S. to do away with NORAD altogether, and enter into more informal arrangements with the Canadian and Quebec Armed Forces for North American aerospace defense and Sovereignty
protection.

    There probably would be Quebec Armed Forces, very limited in number and capability, and maintained for domestic roles, UN peacekeeping operations and for potential deployment as token contributions to multilateral peace enforcement operations.  Quebec would in all probability want to joint NATO. The U.S. would want to lend its support, unless in the unlikely event the issue became heavily entangled with that of NATO membership for eastern European states.

    Finally, it bears repeating that the most difficult issue for the U.S. , should Quebec become independent, could very well be deciding how much it should attempt to encourage Canada to enter into a close relationship with Quebec,
especially an economic relationship within a broader framework of North Americans ties.  Some English Canadians hope that if all else fails, the U.S. might prevent the establishment of an independent Quebec state.  Yet it may well be that the U.S. will decide to exert the bulk of its persuasiveness not on Quebec, but on Canada.

LOAD-DATE: September 27, 1996