Quebec separatists look for positives in Scot vote

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MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec separatists tried Friday to find the silver lining in Scotland's decision to stay within the United Kingdom.

Members of Quebec's movement to break away from Canada had hoped a victory for the Scottish Yes side would give their own floundering ambitions a boost.

Following the rejection, Alexandre Cloutier of the separatist Parti Quebecois made a point to emphasize the positives.

"The Scottish people rejected the status quo," Cloutier told reporters in Scotland. "The No side made promises to the Yes side. It's the end of the first chapter, and now the second opens with negotiations with London."

Earlier this week, party members had mused about how a victory for the Yes side could inspire Quebec.

But the PQ isn't in any position to hold another vote on independence. The French-speaking province has had two failed referendums, most recently in 1995. The party also suffered an historic defeat in the provincial election last April at the hands of the federalist Quebec Liberals.

Daniel Turp, who played a key role for the Yes side in the Quebec referendums, said the Scots are in a position Quebecers found themselves in during the 1980 and 1995 referendum campaigns.

"They voted No because to some extent they were promised some more powers or some more devolution, so I guess it's up to the No camp now to prove that they will abide by their promises," Turp said.

"And if not, what happened in Quebec will happen in Scotland — there will be another referendum on independence one day."

Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the University of Montreal, said a vote for Scottish independence likely wouldn't have had much effect on Quebec, given that the PQ is years away from even the possibility of holding another referendum. Still, Stephane Bedard, the Parti Quebecois's interim leader, said in a statement Quebec and Scotland would continue to "learn from one another."

Bedard said the outcome shows the strength of the independence movement in Scotland.

For his part, federalist Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard used the outcome to remind Quebecers they had also chosen not to separate.

Couillard said the Quebec election earlier this year was a vote, in part, on whether to have another independence referendum. Quebecers voted against that, he said.

"Quebecers want it to focus on issues that touch their daily lives — employment, health, education, economic development," he said in a Quebec City speech.

Turp said watching the result was an emotional experience.

"Not in the same way if it had been my people, but there was a certain sadness," he said.

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