Dividing the House is a book for all Canadians that care about their country. Its primary aim is to help develop a consensus in the rest of Canada by providing answers to the hard questions facing Canada in the event of a break-up. It also seeks to increase public understanding of the negotiating positions likely to be pursued by a separatist PQ government.
Who will speak for Canada? Can negotiations to dismantle the country be left to a government that was elected by all Canadians including Quebeckers, particularly when that government is led by a prime minister from Quebec? Would a reconstituted national government of Canada be desirable? What about the role of the provinces? What would the process be for Canada to approve Quebec's withdrawal? Would a reconfederation of Canada be necessary?
Under what conditions should Canada agree to negotiate the break-up of the country? Should we start talking before a referendum? Is a simple majority in a referendum enough to begin negotiations? What if Quebec issues a Unilateral Declaration of Independence? Are there conditions under which the federal government should refuse to negotiate and use force to keep Quebec in Canada?
And what about the mechanics of splitting an advanced industrial state in the late 20th century? How can it be done? Drawing on the Quebec studies, we map out a Canadian response on key economic issues like trade, the currency, and division of assets and debt. We also advance Canadian solutions for dealing with the tough non-economic issues including boundary questions, defence, citizenship and immigration, bilingualism and aboriginal rights. We show how Canada needs to practice informed self-interest if mutually beneficial arrangements are to be made with a separate Quebec.
As important as the mechanics of separation and the protection of English Canada's interests, is the need to develop a new vision for a Canada without Quebec. While essential Canadian values will not change, some fundamental characteristics will be altered forever. Bilingualism as we know it will no longer be part of our national identity. No province will have special status. All provinces will be equal. Canada will become a more coherent political entity. It will no longer be in Lord Durham's words, "two nations warring in the bosom of a single state." While Quebec's leaving will be an occasion for sorrow rather than rejoicing, it offers Canada opportunities as well as challenges.