All the fire and fury of Quebec's debate over separation from Canada is unlikely to be doused by the May 20 referendum vote. At this writing, early voter sampling indicated that a majority of the province's 4.3 million voters were saying "non" to the proposal to negotiate a "sovereignty-association" relationship with Canada's nine other provinces, Monitor correspondent Clayton Jones reports.
But despite a record voter turnout, Quebeckers were not given the opportunity to provide a final answer to Canada's decade-old question: "What does Quebec want?" Instead, with the question about total independence not being directly asked, the referendum will likely lead to future debates over Quebec's position in the loosely tied Canadian Federation. This will include a re-election campaign expected this fall for Quebec Premier Rene Levesque.
Long lines and short tempers were common at voting places, where both French and non-French-speaking voters stuffed ballots into boxes adorned with blue fleurs-de-lis, the French-rooted symbol of Quebec. The Monitor will assess the referendum in Thursday's editions.