former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and former Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs of Canada, Stéphane Dion from Québec, on Monday
warned in Barcelona about some of the dangers of a misunderstood federalism.
conference organized by Federalistes d’Esquerres at the Faculty of Philosophy
of the University of Barcelona (UB), entitled “The federal response to
secessionist tension”, Dion has urged “defenders of national unity “to
take more into account the concerns of the dissatisfied regional groups “,
but has also warned of the importance of “reinforcing the loyalty of
citizens towards the country as a whole “.
And he has encouraged to do so in an way without complexes because “yielding to virtually all the claims of the separatists hoping that they will lose all interest in carrying out the separation is a risky and probably illusory strategy”, a wrong formula that he has called “contentment strategy” .
Dion warns of the risks of the “strategy of
contentment” of separatism
has insisted that “devolving more power and resources” hoping to
reassure secessionists is an option that “ceases to be reasonable when
pushed to the limit”, since they do not want more autonomy, but “a
new country” and really “they see transfers as another step towards
The Canadian politician has listed the risks of this “strategy of contentment” of the separatists: there can be a “psychological distancing between the region and the rest of the federation”; as devolutions seek to “appease secessionism”, these transfers may “lose sight of the public interest”; you can “trivialize secession”, by considering federalization as “a kind of half separation” without assessing that secession is “a traumatic tear”; there is an “overshoot” in all the negotiations that “makes the nuances be lost” because “the mere disagreement of a reform acquires existential dimensions”, of the type: “give me what I want or the country will be divided”; “contentment” of secessionists “can exacerbate tensions between regions “by breaking “the balance” between them; and, finally, there is a danger of “freeing secessionist leaders from the burden of proof” when explaining “the viability of their project”, transferring it to the federalists.
has pointed out that federalism implies “loyalty between federated
entities”, and has indicated that reforms in the territorial model of the
State should not be presented by federalists “as essential to the point
that it is necessary to separate if they cannot get them”.
He urges to cultivate the “pride of being Spaniard”
novelty of Dion’s message has been his appeal to the sentimental issue to
defend federalism. “If you want to keep Spain together, the Catalans must
be proud to be Spaniards”, he stressed.
And he has insisted that it is “very important” to cultivate the discourse of “identity” at the national level, and not to focus solely on the debate on the administrative or constitutional structure in order to “stop separatism”. Because, according to Dion, federalism is not the panacea that will, by itself, serve to “eliminate conflicts” generated by secessionism.
However, some of those present among the audience have not liked the words of the Canadian. Thus, moments after Dion warned that an independence referendum was inexorably a “social trauma”, Gaspar Coll, a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Barcelona, who served as master of ceremonies, concluded the act by claiming an institutional statement in defense of the “right to decide” approved by the university a few months ago.