Quebec's separatist provincial government published the rules today for the referendum it plans on the province's independence from Canada.
The rules seem tailored to favor the separatist goals of the ruling Parti Quebecois and to hobble polls show to be a majority desire for continued membership in the Canadian confederation.
The statement of intentions introduced in the provincial National Assembly shows that nothing will be left to chance.
Canadians from outside Quebec will be forbidden to make financial contributions in the referendum campaign.
Corporations, overwhelmingly anti-separatist in their sympathies, will also be excluded as will voluntary associations, many of which have sprung up in recent months in defense of a united Canada. No one will be allowed to spend money on the campaign except individuals on the Quebec voters' list.
Everyone taking part in the referendum campaign will be forced to do so within provincial organizations set up to favor the two options. Any expenses not cleared by the umbrella organizations will be illegal.
The organizations' chairmen and executives will be appointed by the representatives in the provincial assembly. Since there is one compact separatist party in the legislature. It will smoothly take over the separatis referendum organization and run it as the Parti Quebecois machine under another name.
The federalists in the assembly are spread among four parties, with different programs. No party operates as a pro-federalist machine on the model of the Parti Quebecois which was formed precisely to take Quebec out of the confederation. The disparate views and conflicting interests must unite and, within 60 days, set up an organization to fight for the union.
Although opinion in Quebec, as reflicted in polls, runs about three, four or five to one in favor of federalism, both the pro and anti-federalist options will allow the same maximum amount of money to spend: 50 cents per voter on the voters' list, or a total of just over $2 million for each side.