Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Haggis, Poutine and the Fat Lady

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Haggis, Poutine and the Fat Lady

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Haggis, poutine and the fat lady

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Sept. 11:

When it comes to patriot games, the fat lady never sings.

The British are learning that now. They may have thought romantic notions of Scottish independence were dead 300 years ago, and dead for good in the 1850s after a temporary revival, and absolutely dead following a failed referendum in 1979. They even thought it was dead after agreeing to yet another referendum on Sept. 18.

The polls told them it was as dead as a parrot at the bottom of a cage. And then came the latest poll showing if a referendum on sovereignty were held today, the Scots would win by the slightest of margins.

Even if the people reject sovereignty, however, it would be a mistake to call out the fat lady to deliver the epitaph for Scottish independence.

There are lessons for Canada and others in this chain of events, but more about that later.

Scotland has a long and proud history, with unique achievements that contribute to its distinct identity in the world. In response to Scottish grievances over the years, and in an effort to weaken the appeal of the sovereigntist movement, the British government has devolved many political powers to Edinburgh.

It was never enough for some nationalists, however, who not only wanted stronger powers of self-expression, but who also adhered to different views on the role of the state. Many Scots today, for example, are unhappy with the right turn in British politics and what they perceive as a threat to cherished social programs, such as the National Health Service.

The patriots say they are a different people, with their own ideas on how to write the social contract between the sovereign and the governed.

The discovery of oil in the North Sea 50 years ago also factored into their vision of what an independent Scotland might achieve. Some Scots say it's their oil.

The Conservative government of David Cameron has responded to the latest referendum threat by offering more powers and independence to the Scots, while warning it would play hard ball if Scotland separated. …

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