Quebec sovereignty not 'the abyss'

It is my impression that the opinion piece "Quebec Secession Revisited" (Nov. 23) omitted a few crucial elements.

First, the scenario whereby Quebec would unilaterally declare its complete independence from Canada is very unlikely. Only a handful of separatists support the notion of a Quebec currency, for example, or the end of all political ties with Canada. Premier Lucien Bouchard's recent visit to the US reaffirmed that the people of Quebec are very interested in maintaining commercial exchanges with Americans.

The fact is the hard-line approach to secession has always been rejected by the vast majority of Quebec nationalists, who instead seek a certain political autonomy coupled with strong economic ties to Canada. This has been labeled sovereignty-association. It describes the Parti Qubcois's project more accurately than apocalyptic images of "monumental and anguishing legal, financial, and political problems, and the threat of prolonged friction and even violence."

Second, even though economic concerns should be at the heart of any nationalistic project and "they are currently an integral part of the separatist discourse," other important variables should not be ignored. Sovereignty is not pursued primarily as a way to make Quebec richer, but as a way to give shape to the identity of its people. It is not a project that seeks to destroy Canada, but one that seeks to build Quebec on solid grounds.

Finally, while uncertainty is obviously a part of the debate, the simple fear of the unknown does not constitute a sufficient argument against Quebec's case for sovereignty. Many people, it seems, should be reminded that change can be good. History has proved it many times.

It is also important to realize that the current Canadian situation is highly problematic. Regardless of political allegiances, polls usually show a vast, pan-Canadian rejection of the status quo, hence the numerous attempts to amend the Constitution in recent years - all failures. In fact, many claim that a Quebec "divorce" from Canada could help to improve the quality of the discussions, much as individuals usually get along better after they have ended an abusive relationship. The image may be simplistic, but so, in my opinion, was calling the sovereignty option "the abyss."

Jrme Lussier

New York

Congressional duty and the Constitution

It was indeed refreshing to read "Still undecided on the 'I' word " (Nov. 25), reporting on Rep. Marge Roukema (R) of New Jersey. Many thanks.

We must be reminded that we have a representative form of government. Our representatives must vote their conscience regardless of the snap-shot polls. They must decide whether President Clinton violated his sworn oath of office, and other charges. This is their charge for which they were elected. To do otherwise would be a dereliction of their oath of office and a violation of the Constitution.

We have a strong country and a magnificent Constitution. It sets the procedure to deal with situations such as Clinton's. If he is found guilty by the Senate, the country will continue to function and will be stronger for having followed the Constitution.

E.J. Rendon

Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Life after welfare

Who knows just how soft the landing is when going back to work after welfare ("Leaving welfare: Many find it's a soft landing" (Dec. 1)? Surely much depends on who you are, where you are, and many things happening in your life. But to begin an article with a theme articulated by a scholar affiliated with a major American conservative think tank is unacceptable.

Frederic A. Moritz

Belfast, Maine

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