QUEBEC'S feuding separatists have struck an alliance that they hope will persuade enough "soft" nationalists to vote for independence from Canada in a referendum expected this fall.
In a deal slated to be signed yesterday in Quebec City, Jacques Parizeau who leads the separatist provincial Quebec Party (PQ), agreed to allow two other separatist parties a voice in negotiating a political-economic union with Canada should Quebeckers vote "yes" to separation.
Together with the PQ, the Quebec Bloc, led by Lucien Bouchard, and the Quebec Democratic Action (ADQ) of soft nationalists, led by Mario Dumont, hope to win a majority in the referendum.
A win would mean that Quebeckers would agree not only to independence from Canada within a year, but also a good-faith effort by Quebec to arrange economic and loose political ties with Canada during that time. The result, the separatists say, would be an arrangement between Quebec and Canada similar to that of the European Union's 15 nations.
The deal provides for Quebec to negotiate with Canada to create a council of ministers with an equal number of representatives from Quebec and Canada with authority over trade, the environment, and other areas; a Quebec-Canada Tribunal with authority to settle trade disagreements; and a parliamentary conference with delegates chosen by Canada's House of Commons and the Quebec National Assembly. Canada would have three-quarters of the members, Quebec one-quarter.
Allowing these links was difficult for Mr. Parizeau, a hard-liner who has maintained that Quebec's independence is not contingent upon ties with Canada. And it still isn't, he says, since voters will be saying "yes" to Quebec independence within a year whether or not Canada agrees to a new deal.