EMOTIONAL political issues may come and go, as separatism has in Canada's Quebec Province. But economic questions that directly involve individuals -- jobs, for instance -- endure. And they increase in importance when the economy turns down. Thus Quebeckers, tired of the separatism issue after nine years, in provincial elections have now voted instead in favor of economic change. They seek a revival of the province's flagging economy by cutting taxes to stimulate investment and reducing the unemployment rate, now nearly 12 percent. The economy clearly requires attention.
Months ago the now-defeated Parti Qu'eb'ecois recognized that the issue of separatism, on which it rode to power in 1976, had paled; like the Liberals, Qu'eb'ecois fought the just-ended campaign primarily on economic grounds. This week's mandated change in political leaders is the public's statement that separatism is not now a voting issue.
It is time for Quebec to get on with other challenges. Separatism was a divisive force, which threatened national unity. Heated debate over the subject diverted the attention of both province and nation from economic and other problems that require solution. Now this emotional diversion has been put aside.