The U.S. and Canada share the world's most open border and biggest trade flow--a relationship separatists take comfort from as they argue that Quebec should be a sovereign nation. Campaigning for an Oct. 30 referendum on separation, the Quebecois say the easy flow of goods across the U.S.-Canadian border is proof that independence won't put an economic barrier between Quebec and English-speaking Canada. But a new study from University of British Columbia economist John F. Helliwell throws some cold water on that idea.
While most Canadians believe their economy is tightly integrated with that of the U.S., in fact one province is far more likely to trade with another province than with a U.S. state at the same distance, Helliwell found. For Quebec, interprovincial trade is 26 times greater than its cross-border commerce: "Quebec is even more tightly tied into the fabric of Canada than are the Anglophone provinces," Helliwell writes. That suggests independence could be economically disruptive for both Quebec and Canada's remaining provinces.