Quebec and Scotland flags

Event information:

Guest Speakers: 
Nicola McEwen, Professor of Public Policy, University of Glasgow, and inaugural Director of the UofG Centre for Public Policy
Guy Laforest, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Université Laval, and Expert Advisor on Governmental Relations, ENAP

André Lecours, Professor in the School of Political Studies and Research Director at the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa

Fragile Union? UK Territorial Politics in the post-Brexit Era
by Nicola McEwen
Presentation in English

In 1999, the UK became a partially and asymmetrically devolved state. Legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland introduced systems of self-government that helped secure continued consent for the Union, albeit whilst also creating new electoral and governing opportunities for nationalist parties to pursue more radical self-government options, as evident in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Membership of the European Union provided implicit but important scaffolding that supported the devolution compromise. Leaving the European Union has created new fissures in the United Kingdom's historic union of nations. The UK's EU exit at the end of 2020 came after 52% backed Leave in the EU referendum campaign. That simple majority masked deep diversity in political preferences, with majorities in Northern Ireland (56%) and Scotland (62%) voting to Remain. Much attention has been given (post-referendum, at least) to the challenges that Brexit poses for the Good Friday Agreement. The Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol and the associated Windsor Framework mean that Northern Ireland effectively remains in the EU single market for goods, without losing free trade with the rest of the UK. As anyone born, or with a parent or grandparent born, on island of Ireland is entitled to Irish citizenship, most residents of Northern Ireland can also retain many of the benefits of EU citizenship. None of these benefits is available to Scotland, reinforcing demands for a new independence referendum. Political choices made to prepare the UK for life outside of the European Union have destabilised all three devolution settlements and undermined the authority of the devolved legislatures. Whilst the SNP remains committed to a new independence referendum, despite a Supreme Court ruling that legislating for one is beyond the constitutional authority of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Government has set up an independent constitutional commission to explore new constitutional options for Wales. These developments are reflective of a dynamic process that may yet fundamentally reshape the UK territorial constitution.

Nicola McEwen is a Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow and inaugural Director of the UofG Centre for Public Policy. Prior to joining Glasgow in April 2023, she was Professor of Territorial Politics at the University of Edinburgh, where she co-founded and co-directed the Centre on Constitutional Change. Her research is focused on territorial politics and multi-level government, with an interest in how the constitutional competence/policy challenge interface is managed. Recent research projects include a Senior Research Fellowship with the UK in a Changing Europe, where she led UKICE research on the effects of Brexit on devolution and the union. Other recent projects include a major study funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, Between Two Unions: The Constitutional Future of the Islands after Brexit. She has published widely on territorial politics, intergovernmental relations, multi-level government and policy making, and the politics of independence and Union. She is actively involved in informing debate within the wider policy and political community, with extensive experience in providing analysis in broadcast, print and social media, public engagement, advice to governments and parliamentary committees, and consultancy. Nicola has a PhD in Politics (Sheffield), MA Political Science (Western Ontario, Canada) and BA (Hons) Politics and Philosophy (Strathclyde) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

Nationalism and 30 Years of the Autonomist Third Way in Quebec: Perspectives Between the University Citadel and Political-institutional Action
by Guy Laforest
Presentation in French

This conference is the start of a new cycle of conferences in which Guy Laforest intends to focus, in the next two to three years, on the identification of a conception of nationalism for the 21st century in Quebec, finding a balance between the pole of roots and the pole of hospitality. This cycle is a return to public speaking for him, after 5 years of working under the duty of confidentiality as head of a university establishment at ENAP. At the Ottawa conference, he will begin by recalling the context of the emergence of the third autonomist way in Quebec in the wake of the Meech-Charlottetown years. He will subsequently explore the conceptions of Quebec nationalism conveyed by the ADQ between 1994 and 2011 and by the CAQ from 2012 to 2023. He will also situate this within the framework of the definitions of the Canadian state, from mononational, to binational, to multinational.

Guy Laforest holds a doctorate from McGill University. He taught 2 years at the University of Calgary and 29 years at the Université Laval before becoming director-general of ENAP from 2017 to 2022. His fields of teaching and research are political thought, constitutional politics in Canada and complex constitutional monarchies, intellectual history, and theories of federalism and nationalism. He has been a member of the Royal Society of Canada since 2014, and has just received the Excellence Carrière prize from the Société québécoise de science politique in 2023.

If you require accommodation, please contact the event host as soon as possible.
Date and time
Sep 25, 2023
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Format and location
In person
Social Sciences Building (FSS)
FSS 4004
General public, Researchers, Graduate students, Undergraduate students
Organized by
Centre on Governance