A Message To Scotland About Québec Independence – OpEd


Let me begin by saying that throughout my life, I have believed that politics is not a science, but an art form. This is perhaps a fool’s paradise of political idealism but books taught me about freedom, not people. Such is the nature of bourgeois society. I was lucky enough to be born into a rich family and could afford education. It was not until later in life that I came to realize freedom as a political movement, as a force for culture and solidarity, at a time when I thought my diplomatic career had ended.

My ancestors were Scots, some directly from Scotland and others thrown out of the United States as Tory supporters during the American revolution. The latter are called United Empire loyalists. My grandfather’s name was William Wallace. My first name, Bruce, no need to tell a Scot where it comes from. I proudly represent two Highland clans and, like some Scots, I am told that I cannot keep my mouth shut.


From almost the beginning, I learned to love the French language and culture. Even though I was raised in English Toronto, I sought to learn French and often visited Québec with my parents. As a student, I left Canada to study in France. When I came back, I landed in Québec, finished my doctorate and became a diplomat.

As a diplomat, I was one of the very few anglophones who could speak the language of Molière with relative ease. I was sent to Paris to showcase Canadian bilingualism and battle against French Québec while managing our triangular relations between Paris, Ottawa and Québec. My French accent earned me my marginal status in Québec where I married a French Québec girl (or lassie). My marginal status was already sealed in the rest of Canada (ROC). Slowly but surely, I came to the realization that, like the French from Québec, I could not live outside its borders. My home is here, in Québec, where I speak both languages fluently.

I lived through two referendums, and I had the pleasure of knowing René Lévesque, a man of the people, a democrat and an idealist. We lost two referendums and despair set in. The absurdity of waiting for ex-Premier Lucien Bouchard’s ‘winning conditions’ made little sense as English has quickly re-asserted itself as the dominant force on the island of Montréal. Linguistic alienation is not unknown to Scotland either. Speaking French on the island of Montreal has become hazardous. I am a new kind of traitor in my own country.

Some twenty-five years hence, after years of despair, now the political terrain is shifting. Little by little support for an independent Québec is again rising. This inexorable upward movement is despite the federalist media, political class and polls dedicated to limiting French culture and language in Canada. 

At 58, I thought my diplomatic career would end quietly in Turkey. Destiny was to decide otherwise. The Arab Spring broke out in 2010. Brave young men and women fought against armed gangs and Assad’s soldiers with their bare hands. Such courage! They taught me what freedom meant as if William Wallace and Robert the Bruce could not. They taught me that freedom is at the base of all politics, the desire to decide for ourselves the rules that will govern ourselves. I think the word is self-government.

Québec supporters of independence are sometimes diffident and one can easily understand why. Like Scotland, the British northern colonies rebelled against British rule in 1837. Almost simultaneously in both colonies, there rose an opposition to tyranny. They were your sons and daughters slaughtered and exiled in the Mackenzie-Papineau rebellion. They were Scottish, French and Irish farmers. Their destiny was similar to that of so many Scots struggling for freedom and betrayed by pro-English forces of reaction. In this, our two countries share a questionable heritage of betrayal. 

Today that betrayal continues. One of my Ambassadors’ said to his host country after the second referendum that we lost by several tens of thousands of votes, no worries we will drown their culture and language with migration. Like the Lord Durham report that foresaw the genocide of the French in Québec, freedom and the movement it represents in Québec continues its resilience. 

Beijing’s interference in Canadian elections is another by-product of this deficit of freedom. Québec’s ability to clean its own house is limited by Ottawa’s minority government, riddled with scandals and political opportunism.

Scotland’s role

Until now, politicians like Paul St. Pierre Plamondon (PSPP) and leader of the Parti Québécois, have used Scotland to sow future bonds of friendship and fidelity. Understandably, the history of traitors has made them suspicious of any English language support for independence. This must change if we are to be free one day. As Scots, you need to recognize the plight of your sons and daughters in Québec and lend them your support. You need us as much as we need you. Help us overcome the massive forces arrayed against us. 

How often did Scottish independence appear lost for good? Your freedom is our freedom, this must be the goal towards which we strive together.

With any luck, very soon, there will be two new democratic nations on the world stage. Together, both free and democratic, we will be bound by culture and migration. We will be important cogs in the new free world.

Vive le Québec libre! Vive l’Écosse libre!

Canada’s Rogue Diplomat

Bruce Mabley

Dr. Bruce Mabley is a former Canadian diplomat having served in the Middle East, and is the director of the Mackenzie-Papineau think tank in Montreal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *