Quebec's sovereigntists pretend to want independence. Until recently, federal politicians pretended to believe them. But with the Parti Quebecois poised to return to power after the September 4 election, the old pretenses are breaking down. Separatism is now a hard path, involving great sacrifices, reduced standards of living, more work, and fewer social benefits -- all at a time when PQ supporters yearn to hear a message of no sacrifices, improved standards of living, less work, and more social benefits. Which is precisely why Quebec separatism is effectively dead.