That's what conservative author predicts if separatists win
OTTAWA (CP) - A bloody civil war is likely if Quebec decides unilaterally to separate from Canada, a controversial conservative author says in a new book.
William Gairdner predicts an armed conflict similar to the U.S. civil war, with the federal government sending the army to help Quebec residents who want to remain in Canada and "scream for protection." The United States might also intervene by sending troops and aircraft from bases in northern New York, Gairdner says in Constitutional Crack-up, Canada and the Coming Showdown with Quebec.
"It would not be difficult for America ... to justify a brief military peacekeeping invasion to protect its Canadian assets and to stop the bloodshed in the name of international stability."
While Gairdner's views are often dismissed as extreme, two previous books he wrote on constitutional problems and social programs were best-sellers.
"The Trouble With Canada" sold 40, 000 copies while "The War Against the Family" sold 12,000.
A former Olympic decathlete and owner of the Fitness Institute health club, Gairdner, 53, is a popular figure at meetings of the Reform Party.
In a recent interview, he said he wrote his new book to show what could happen if Quebec separates and to challenge the view that the province has a right to independence if a majority of residents vote in favor of separation.
"The federation, if anything, should have the referendum, not the complaining part," said Gairdner.
He said a peaceful split is unlikely if Quebec unilaterally declares independence.
Gairdner said that if Quebec votes to separate with a simple majority vote, the federal government will have a political, moral and legal obligation to protect the interests and property of millions of Quebecers who want to remain in Canada.
"There is no way we can accept the idea that we can abandon these people."
Federal efforts could lead to a low-level campaign of mailbox bombings and other terrorist acts by separatists, he said.
Ottawa would then probably use the army - as it did at Oka in 1990 against natives and in Montreal in 1970 during the FLQ crisis.
"From our own history, at least, we cannot predict a peaceful handling of such a crisis," said Gairdner. His solution to countering separatists is to give the federal government less power and the provincial governments more power, so they control their own affairs.