What does Québec want? The question is an old cliché in Canadian political folklore. Again and again, during the more than 30 years since the end of World War II, it's been raised whenever Québec's attitudes made it the odd man out in the permanent pull and tug of our federal-provincial relations. In fact, it's a question which could go back to the British conquest of an obscure French colony some 15 years before American Independence, and then run right through the stubborn survival of those 70,000 settlers and their descendants during the following two centuries.
By now, there are some six million of them in Canada, not counting the progeny of the many thousands who were forced by poverty, especially around the turn of the century, to migrate to the United States, and now constitute substantial "Franco" communities in practically all the New England states.
But Québec remains the homeland. All along the valley of the St. Lawrence, from the Ottawa River down to the Gaspé peninsula and the great Gulf, in the ancient settlements which grew into the big cities of Montréal and Québec, in hundreds of smaller towns and villages from the American border to the mining centers and power projects in the north, there are now some 4.8 million "Québécois." That's 81 percent of the population of the largest and second most populous of Canada's ten provinces.
What does this French Québec want? Sometime during the next few years, the question may be answered. And there are growing possibilities that the answer could very well be-independence.
Launched in 1967-68, the Parti Québécois, whose platform is based on political sovereignty, now fills the role of Her Majesty's loyal Opposition in the National Assembly-as we nostalgically designate our provincial legislature. In its first electoral test in 1970, it already had had 24 percent of the votes. Then in 1973, a second general election saw it jump to 30 percent, and, although getting only six out of 110 seats, become
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