Sep 3, 2012 / 8:00 am
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois has spent the final days of the election campaign urging voters to give her a majority and the chance to form a country.
If Marois gets her desired mandate, though, what are the odds of another sovereignty referendum, and how would relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada change?
The PQ leader, who is leading in the polls, says she would hold an independence vote "tomorrow morning" if the conditions were right.
That is a giant "if."
For years, the sovereigntist dream to hold a third referendum has remained elusive, butting up against a cold, hard reality that the support may not be there to win it.
Recent PQ leaders have developed all sorts of formulas to keep the base mobilized when D-Day appears so far on the horizon.
Lucien Bouchard, premier from 1996 until 2001, famously promised to call a referendum once he assembled the "winning conditions." He never called one.
Bernard Landry excited party faithful by talking about achieving sovereignty within 1,000 days, meaning, by 2005.
Polls suggest the sovereigntist side could suffer a drubbing if Marois put the question to voters. The most recent CROP survey put support for sovereignty at 28 per cent, a spectacular drop from the historic levels of the early 1990s.
So, what to do in the face of a mountain of a challenge? Start chipping away.
A PQ government would start making Quebec more independent, one swing of its political hatchet at a time. The PQ doesn't simply plan to whine about Canada. It wants to start separating, slowly.
"It's not going to be a referendum or nothing," said Antonia Maioni, a political scientist at McGill University.
"The idea is to have smaller wins and move towards an eventual, perhaps, referendum. At least she can then go back to her party and say I'm moving to a third referendum."
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