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The Government of Quebec can succeed in putting its fiscal house in order despite the costs of political uncertainty linked to its senseless plans for secession. I am against secession not because I think Quebecers are incapable of managing their own independent state. I believe that we, Quebecers, are called to a greater ideal: that of continuing to improve the superb economic and social success that is Canada; that of fighting alongside our fellow citizens against the scourges of unemployment and poverty; that of continuing to ensure that comparisons by international bodies such as the UN or the World Bank continue to rank Quebecers so highly in so many areas of human activity.

4 Quebec's language laws are more liberal than those in such irreproachable multilingual democracies as Switzerland or Belgium. Radical elements sometimes try to reignite linguistic tensions in Quebec, but they always fail. The solidarity between Quebec's Francophones and non-Francophones is admirable. Indeed, there is only one issue that can divide them along linguistic and ethnic lines: the issue of secession. The solidarity displayed by Canada's other provinces and territories with regard to bilingualism and Quebecers' linguistic and cultural distinctiveness is also solid.

Canada, a universal model of openness, tolerance and generosity, is the last country in the world where identity-based fragmentation should be allowed to triumph. You Americans understand that instinctively. That is why you prefer that Canada remain united, while taking great pains not to interfere in Canadians' affairs. Your preference for Canadian unity is, of course, not due only to your economic interest. You, who have the heaviest international responsibilities, fear that the possible break-up of this great bilingual and multicultural federation would set a bad example for the rest of the world, at a time when identity-based tensions are raging in so many corners of the globe.

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