Two developments in Canada, the strengthening of the position of a secessionist party in Quebec and a U.S.-style public shooting at its victory celebration in Montreal, called Americans' attention northward this week.
French-speaking province Quebec has flirted for decades with the possibility of secession from Canada. Whenever the idea has come to a vote, Quebec decides that it is better off in Canada than out of it. With a general desire in the United States for coherence in governance of its northern neighbor, Americans have favored a unified Canada.
In Tuesday's elections to the Quebec provincial assembly, the separatist Parti Quebecois, led by veteran politician Pauline Marois, won 54 of the assembly's 125 seats -- a gain of seven, but not a majority. Since it is unlikely that Quebec's other major parties, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives, the Liberal Party or Coalition Avenir Quebec, would vote with the PQ for independence, Ms. Marois' party is likely to remain blocked in its desire for separation.
Unfortunately, at an election night rally in a hall in Montreal celebrating the PQ's results, a gunman carried out what police called an assassination attempt and "a crime against the state." The suspect, Richard Henry Bain, shot two men, killing one of them, then started a fire with gasoline. Ms. Marois was not injured.
While unusual for Canada, such incidents have become tragically common in the United States, with recent shootings claiming multiple victims in Aurora, Colo.; Chardon, Ohio; and Tucson, Ariz. The attack in Tucson severely injured then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six.
Americans can sympathize with Canadians over the Montreal shooting and its victims. They can also quietly applaud the decision of Quebec voters to keep our northern neighbor intact.