In “The Scottish Play” (September/October 2012), Charles King briefly distinguishes the separatist movement in Scotland from that in Quebec. “The Québecois quest for independence,” he writes, “involved a religious and linguistic minority seeking to secure its status against perceived English-speaking dominance.” In contrast, “not only is it difficult today to define an ‘ethnic Scot,’ but the SNP [Scottish National Party] has understood that its greatest hope for differentiating Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom is to embrace values, not nationality, as the region’s defining principle.”
But today’s separatists in Quebec may not be so different from their Scottish counterparts. Thanks in part to the changes King mentions -- the federal government’s increased commitment to bilingualism, economic growth, and immigration from Africa and Asia -- Quebec’s separatists have moved away from ethnic and linguistic arguments for independence. Instead, they have gravitated to strategies that are strikingly similar to those used by the SNP.