Sherbrooke Declaration vs. Clarity Act

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Wilf Day

Before discussing how the Clarity Act and the Sherbrooke Declaration differ, here is some relevant history.

The Clarity Act (Bill C-20) was tabled for first reading in the House of Commons on December 13, 1999. It was passed by the House on March 15, 2000.

The NDP's Social Democratic Forum on Canada's Future had been launched in 1997 and its report adopted in 1999. The report was presented as a major rethink of the party's policy toward federalism and the constitution. The report argued that Canada must recognize Quebec's special status, recognize Quebecers as a people and accept asymmetrical federalism.

During the winter of 1999-2000 the Chrétien government's Clarity Act divided the NDP. The NDP caucus was initially caught off guard by the introduction of the bill and McDonough criticized the PM for not consulting with their "parliamentary allies." Finally, the caucus decided to support the bill in principle but to seek a number of amendments in order to defend the rights of Aboriginal peoples, to reduce the role of the Senate in the process, and to specify that a fifty percent plus one majority was sufficient

The NDP Federal Council vote on February 26, 2000 to say "that the Federal Council....ask our Federal Caucus to oppose Bill C-20 at Third Reading in the House of Commons." The Emergency Resolution carried by an overwhelming majority, following substantial discussion. Despite this, McDonough and most of the caucus supported the bill, with two members (Libby Davies and Svend Robinson), voting against it on third reading. McDonough and Bill Blaikie argued in the House of Commons that the Clarity Act recognized Quebec's right to self-determination in Canadian law. However, the role given to the federal government contradicts the notion of self-determination within Quebec. The caucus position was not only contrary to the notion of internal party democracy but it was arguably contrary to party policy.

In the House Bill Blaikie objected to the way the government had handled the Bill, and "the unmitigated, titanic, bloody arrogance of that man over there, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs who thinks he knows everything about this country and that the rest of us do not have anything to say."

Blaikie explained:

Quote:
. . we were concerned about an aspect of the bill that left open the possibility of some abuse on the part of the federal government after a referendum in jacking up the numerical majority that might be needed. . . .

". . . the NDP as a caucus will be supporting Bill C-20 at third reading.

This has not been easy. There are many in my party and elsewhere who feel that somehow Bill C-20 is an attack on or contrary to the principle of Quebec self-determination. Particularly within the New Democratic Party there are people who feel that somehow Bill C-20 is contrary to our traditional position of support for the self-determination of Quebec. If I thought that was so, I would not support Bill C-20 and neither would my colleagues behind me.

In our view not only does Bill C-20 recognize the right of Quebec to self-determination, it entrenches and recognizes in law the right of Quebec to self-determination. However, it says that this has to be achieved by virtue of a legitimate process that was outlined by the supreme court in its opinion. What this law attempted to do was to give legislative incarnation, if you like, to the supreme court's opinion. I believe that Bill C-20 meets that test. I do not think it is contrary to the principle of self-determination for Quebec.

After the vote Alexa McDonough wrote an explanation:

Quote:
The decision to support this legislation on Third Reading was a difficult one. All Caucus members believe the priority is to work to renew federalism through a "Plan A" approach. Our Report of the Social Democrat Forum, approved in August by Convention, strengthened our commitment to that approach.

When the Liberals introduced the Bill to Parliament, the Caucus agreed to support it on principle at Second Reading while we consulted widely with the Party and our labour partners. We sought and received thoughtful guidance from all sections of the Party and labour, including the recent federal Council motion. Several Caucus members were present during the Council to hear concerns about the Bill. All these views were seriously considered as we made our decision.

At the same time, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic Bill Blaikie worked in committee to try to introduce amendments to the proposed legislation. Two key amendments moved by the NDP explicitly recognize Aboriginal peoples as political actors who must be involved in any future secession bid. In the regrettable event that Bill C-20 might be required, these two amendments will guarantee the rights of Aboriginal peoples in this important constitutional negotiation. Unfortunately, we were unable to move our other amendments relating to the role of the Senate and the 50% + 1 majority.

In considering the final Bill with amendments, Caucus considered two key issues which emerged from the Supreme Court opinion: the right of self-determination for province of Quebec, and the right of the nation to play a role in negotiations surrounding any possible secession. We believe that this Bill, in spite of its shortcomings, does respond to those two issues, and we supported it at final reading.

I recognize that there will be some New Democrats who disagree with the position taken by the federal Caucus. There are some who feel that Bill C-20 is an attack on or contrary to our traditional position of support for the principle of self-determination for Quebec. Had the Caucus thought so, we would not have supported this Bill. In our view, not only does Bill C-20 recognize the right of Quebec to self-determination, it entrenches and recognizes in law the right of Quebec to self-determination.

The federal NDP Caucus is in full accord with Federal Council that Bill C-20 must not be allowed to distract from our shared goals of forcing this government to be accountable on the critical issue of health care, and of building a genuine alternative that makes it possible for us to work with progressive Quebecers towards a social democratic future for all Canadians.

As the party's Renewal Report admitted in 2001:

Quote:
All parties must grapple with the complex issue of Quebec's unique place in the federation. From the perspective of Canadians living outside Quebec, the Party's positions on this issue are seen as ambiguous at best. Many of those who support the NDP from within Quebec have concluded that the Party has abandoned interest in the province.

During the leadership race in 2003, Jack Layton criticized the caucus support for the Clarity Act. The party has tried to advocate asymmetrical federalism, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, since the mid-1960s. This policy was explicitly reinforced by the Social Democratic Forum in 1999 and seemed to have Jack Layton's support.

During the last election campaign, Macleans published an interesting document:

http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/04/27/the-ndp-quebec-and-the-constitution/

Quote:
Brian Topp contacted me and offered to clear all this up. Topp is a former NDP campaign director from earlier elections who has been less directly involved with the Layton campaign this year, but he told me he was speaking with the approval of the Layton campaign and for the record. After we spoke he sent me an email summary of his main points, which matches the substance of the notes I took during our phone conversation. Here is Topp's own summary of his points, with parenthetical additions by me to help make it all more comprehensible.

I believe this all leaves Layton with pretty serious questions left to answer before he will be worthy of anybody's trust on fundamental questions of constitutional stewardship. But I have to say that until the other national leaders get over their own games of peekaboo on the same questions, it's hard to be sure that Layton is the worst of the lot. In particular, the silence of Stephen Harper, who is still today the Prime Minister of Canada, speaks volumes.

Topp's summary of his remarks:

  • The Quebec National Assembly has not ratified the 1982 amendments. This is an issue that will have to be addressed at some point. The time to address it is when we can be fairly sure we will succeed.
  • A necessary precondition is a federal government francophone Quebecers see themselves in, working on priorities they support.
  • In the 1998 reference case, the Supreme Court wrote the rulebook on any future referendum, should there be one, which hopefully there won't be. Both Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Chretien welcomed this ruling at the time.
  • Issues about whether a future question is sufficiently "clear", should these issues ever end up in dispute, would presumably ultimately end up in front of the Court.
  • Mr. Layton is not calling for repeal of the Clarity Act.
  • Fewer BQ MPs in Parliament is good for Canada (including Quebec). Working to re-involve Francophone Quebecers in the governance of Canada is the kind of work Canadians hope an aspirant for PM will do. Acknowledging this issue as we are doing is respectful of the views of Francophone Quebecers, and is good nation-building.
  • Michael Ignatieff said essentially the same thing in 2006.
  • It's not surprising that in the last week of a campaign our opponents are mis-stating our views on these issues.

Fidel

Rebecca West wrote:
You know, Fidel, when you fling out crap at moderators - without attention to what's being posted - it just supports the shortcomings in the content of any dissention on your part.  Why do you bother?
 

I'll try harder next time.

KenS

Excellent historical summary Wilf.

 

I'm not even going into that the Leader and Caucus in 2000 clearly contradicted the clear choices of the membership- first the earlier processes that Caucus had been part of and supported the outcomes, and the affirmation by Council after the tabling of the Clarity Act and explicitly taking account of it.

That process question speaks to itself. And in terms of whether or not the Clarity Act and SD are in essential and practical contradiction, the process questions of how we arrived where we are have no direct bearing.

Except for the 'heads up' that we have been here before. A lot. And while people largely do not remember, it will come back when we come to this again- as we certainly will in the not distant future.

The stage is well set for the introductory acts repeating history. In 2000 we had a policy and set of principles viz Quebec that we agreed on, Leader and Caucus included.

Then the Liberals dropped a bomb in. The Clarity Act was a cleverly constructed wedge. There would be a significant political price to voting against the Act. Not to say it could not be handled and even isolated, but there was definitely going to be a price. We see the outcome of that.

Twelve years later, here we are with an even more thoughtfully constructed NDP Quebec policy- the Sherbrooke Declaration. And whether or not the SD in practice and almost exlicitly contradicts the Clarity Act... it is most definitely designed to heal the wounds opened by the Clarity Act. Because even Quebeckers who prefer the federalist path were deeply and permanently offended by the CA. The Liberals paid their price in Quebec, and the lack of trust of the NDP around those issues was a key obstacle to building support even while francophones were noticably tiring of the sovereignty question and voting for the Bloc.

And twelve years later, here we are with our opponents preparing to lob another bomb into the crowd.

"What will it be NDP- is it the Clarity Act or the Sherbrooke Declaration?"

The Clarity Act is the wedge that keeps giving.

When we are next pressed with choosing, the dodges that we wouldn't repeal the CA, and showing that the SD can be read as having some similar principles just is not going to cut it. Because now we are the Quebec big league.

It is going to come down to, do we really mean 50% + 1 is good enough, and that Quebec has the authority to choose it's question. Yes to that will be taken as opposition to the Clarity Act. For which there is the same price to be paid in the ROC as there was in 2000 when the Clarity Act was fresh meat.

But this tme around, a No answer... 'we don't really mean what the SD sounds like' will not be just at the price of our own consistency and process. Because now, the people of Quebec are watching us. And if we waffle on the SD, even people who did not need the 50 + 1 position to consider switching support to the NDP will rightfully question whether we are to be trusted.

KenS

Remember that 50% + 1 is a principle insisted on by staunch Quebec federalists as well. Like Tom Mulcair since long before he was in the NDP. Jean Charest for that matter.

The principled federalist answer to the colonialist concerns about what is a fair majority and what is a fair question is that is for Quebeckers to decide. In other words, many federalists think that 50% + 1 is not enough to seperate, and that they do not want the PQ to have a blank cheque for determining the question.... but those are questions to be settled in Quebec, and federalists are capable of taking care of themselves.

It is not for Canada to decide- which is what the Clarity Act is about. Not only that- but the Liberals butting in with the Clarity Act is not helpful to the federalist cause.

Unionist

Thanks for both those posts, Ken. I think you've really nailed it.

And thanks for the detailed background account, Wilf, most of which I had forgotten or never knew. Looking forward to your comments on the Sherbrooke Declaration.

 

KenS

We will not be allowed to get away with any more with 'we do not advocate repealing the Clarity Act'.

I actually don't think we are doomed to pay a price in the ROC for saying that we choose the Sherbrooke Declaration when it inevitably comes to the one or the other choice. 

This can be navigated. But there is no question it will be a challenge.

Widespread naivete is not an auspicious start for meeting a steep challenge.

KenS

From Alexa McDonough's 2000 explanation of the Caucus vote:

Quote:

In considering the final Bill with amendments, Caucus considered two key issues which emerged from the Supreme Court opinion: the right of self-determination for province of Quebec, and the right of the nation to play a role in negotiations surrounding any possible secession. We believe that this Bill, in spite of its shortcomings, does respond to those two issues, and we supported it at final reading.

I highlighted the fig leaf. Lipstick on the pig, before you swallow what you cannot really justify.

Which is relevant because whether Caucus and the new Leader does it or not, many New Demcrats will want to try the same thing now as the perceived way out. Unfortunately for that desire: this time we are not just working to fool ourselves... the eople of Quebec will be watching.

 

KenS

I would sure like to see someone take up these questions- even if only to say that they are processing and finding it daunting.

So far the only participation other than Unionist and I, with one exception, is people waving it away. [Who might at least have the decency to stay out of it.]

FWIW, I'm sure as hell not expecting widespread agreement with what has been suggested here.

Unionist

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
And thanks for the detailed background account, Wilf, most of which I had forgotten or never knew.

The most important differences between the Clarity Act (CA) and the Sherbrooke Declaration (SD) are what it adds, a far wider context:

  • - The objective of allowing Quebec to embrace the Canadian constitutional framework.
  • - A new vision of principled federalism.
  • - Quebec nationalism can be a strength for Canada, not a threat.
  • - Asymmetrical federalism.

But the question this thread focuses on is far narrower: does it contradict the Clarity Act? If so, why does the SD not call for repeal of the CA?

Let's remember that, when Ducasse and others wrote the SD in and before May 2005, six MPs who had all voted for the Clarity Act were still in the caucus: Bill Blaikie, Pat Martin, Alexa McDonough, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Peter Stoffer, and Yvon Godin. He did not confront them, and they did not oppose the SD.

Many of us were immensely pleased when we first read the SD, and not a little surprised. It not only took us past the CA debate, it completed the reversal of a half-century of CCF centralism. I was a tremendous admirer of David Lewis, but not of his attitude to Quebec which dates back to the CCF supporting conscription in 1942. The SD was first adopted by the Quebec Section; would the federal party really endorse it? Yes, they did. By the time it was ratified at convention, there was no real opposition.

On the right of self-determination, the SD is clear: the people of Quebec have the right to decide their future, and exercising that right is a political process. Legally formalizing it is not useful or necessary.  The CA also recognizes that the will of the population of Quebec, on whether the province should cease to be part of Canada and become an independent state, will determine that question. It then talks of the terms on which independence would take place.

Neither the SD or the CA state that the National Assembly could enact a UDI (unilateral declaration of independence.) Both say that it is a question for a referendum. Therefore, asking whether a UDI would amount to a coup d'etat, entitling Canada to take action in the courts and ultimately enforce any decision, is a provocative question not addressed by the CA or contemplated by the SD. Would a UDI voted by a unanimous National Assembly be more entitled to respect than a governmental coup d'etat? No doubt, but why even raise this? It's a long time since I've seen a PQ member seriously suggest that the mere election of a PQ government should create a mandate for a UDI. And not even Stephane Dion threatens force.

The SD respects the Quebec Referendum Act, which says the Government may order that the electors be consulted by referendum, but does not say the outcome is binding on anyone, not even on the Government of Quebec. The SD goes further: it would "recognize" a majority decision (50%+1). The CA also implies this, implying that the Government of Canada will enter into negotiations on the terms of independence after a clear majority decision.

The CA says the House will decide, after the referendum, "whether, in the circumstances, there has been a clear expression of a will by a clear majority of the population of that province that the province cease to be part of Canada." That was what we all objected to: the CA was unclear as to what a clear majority is, but, like art, we'll know it when we see it. Paternalistic. Yet even the SD says "It would be to the Federal government to determine its own process in the Spirit of the Supreme Court ruling and under international law, in response to the results of the popular consultation in Quebec." The difference is, we won't change the rules after the game.

If Stephane Dion keeps saying the CA tried to make sure it cannot be a simple majority, and keeps asking "if 50%+1 is a clear majority, what is an unclear majority?" we reply "if you know what a clear majority is, Stephane, why did you not make the Clarity Act clear? Is it 60%? 67%? What?" (I also like to answer his question by saying "39.6%.")

Would an NDP government have recognized a yes vote in 1980 and/or 1995 as determining the wishes of the population? The SD does not comment on the wording of those questions, but says it would recognize a majority decision "in the event of a referendum on the political status of Quebec." The 1980 referendum was on this:

"The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad - in other words, sovereignty - and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will only be implemented with popular approval through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?"

The 1995 referendum was on this:

"Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?

That Bill required the Government of Quebec to propose to the rest of Canada a partnership treaty based on a "Tripartite Agreement" signed on 12 June 1995 between Parizeau, Bouchard and Dumont. This agreement outlined a series of proposals that the leaders agreed a sovereign Quebec would make to Canada to share power between the two countries, including in the areas of:

  • customs union;
  • free movement of goods;
  • free movement of individuals;
  • free movement of services;
  • free movement of capital;
  • monetary policy;
  • labour mobility; and
  • citizenship.

The Bill provided that negotiations on a partnership treaty could not extend past 30 October 1996 (one year after the 1995 referendum).

Did either of those questions purport to determine the future sovereign status of Quebec? The SD does not say.

I submit it is clear why the SD does not propose repealing the CA: repeal is not necessary, since the CA does not contradict the SD.

I don't think the CA is the problem. When other parties attack the NDP over the SD, they are more likely to get scary about asymmetrical federalism. Except perhaps Bob Rae, from whom I am sure I can find quotes supporting asymmetrical federalism.

Unionist

Wilf Day wrote:

Neither the SD or the CA state that the National Assembly could enact a UDI (unilateral declaration of independence.) Both say that it is a question for a referendum. Therefore, asking whether a UDI would amount to a coup d'etat, entitling Canada to take action in the courts and ultimately enforce any decision, is a provocative question not addressed by the CA or contemplated by the SD. Would a UDI voted by a unanimous National Assembly be more entitled to respect than a governmental coup d'etat? No doubt, but why even raise this? It's a long time since I've seen a PQ member seriously suggest that the mere election of a PQ government should create a mandate for a UDI. And not even Stephane Dion threatens force.

 

Thanks for your reply, Wilf, but I'm stopping my reading at this paragraph. There's a serious misunderstanding here.

Who mentioned a UDI in the absence of a referendum resulting in a "yes" majority????? No one in Québec even entertains such a scenario.

I'll take it that you simply misunderstood my chart.

Here's the scenario I'm talking about:

1. The National Assembly determines a question (which the SD says it recognizes, but the CA does not).

2. A referendum is held in conformity with the legislation (which the SD recognizes, but the Clarity Act does not).

3. 50% + 1 vote "yes" - a result the SD recognizes, but the Clarity Act does not.

4. Québec then declares independence, in the absence of any negotiations. The SD recognizes the right of the Québec people to "freely" determine their political status, to exercise their self-determination. The CA describes this very scenario as contrary to Canadian and international law, and bars the government and House from even sitting down to talk to Québec about it.

5. The SD says no force would be used or threatened in such a scenario. The CA does not.

Please don't reduce my question to a straw man - a PQ government waking up one morning and seceding. Never said that. And I can't imagine Quebecers accepting such a dictatorial act, except maybe if Canada invades Québec again.

 

Gaian

KenS wrote:

I would sure like to see someone take up these questions- even if only to say that they are processing and finding it daunting.

So far the only participation other than Unionist and I, with one exception, is people waving it away. [Who might at least have the decency to stay out of it.]

FWIW, I'm sure as hell not expecting widespread agreement with what has been suggested here.

Sorry Ken, but I'm going to be "indecent" and put my oar in your private effing pond.

Thanks to Wilf, posters here can see something of the agonizing debates that the party has engaged in internally. Elected members must keep their constituents in mind as well as the fundamental questions of justice being considered on the national stage, a fact admitted by those involved in the real world of competing interests, left and right, uniion membership and electors at large, etc..

Arguing here that only a firm yeah or nay can satisfy the folks who have named themselves arbitrators, is to assume an Olympian presence and to turn this into some kind of morality play, which is the height of arrogance and egotistical nonsense.

KenS

By all means put your oar in.

My comment was that your previous 'participation' is just waving it all off.

But as to that oar, what is it you are saying?

Nobody said there is 'a firm yeah or nay to all of this'. In fact, I skected it out as a conundrum, and also said that I dont have an answer.

"Elected members must keep their constituents in mind" precisely. Do you have something to say more than the obvious, and as if this has been ignored?

KenS

Wilf Day wrote:
 

 

The most important differences between the Clarity Act (CA) and the Sherbrooke Declaration (SD) are what it adds, a far wider context:

  • - The objective of allowing Quebec to embrace the Canadian constitutional framework.
  • - A new vision of principled federalism.

I dont know how you can justify speaking in such generalities and treat the unqualified acceptance by the SD of 50% + 1 as if it is some add on or extension of the CA, rather than a single distinguising element. 

The Clarity Act hedges absolutely everything the federal government MIGHT possibly accept from Quebec about the question and rules of a referundum, if it feels so inclined.

The SD turns that on its head.

Wilf Day wrote:

But the question this thread focuses on is far narrower: does it contradict the Clarity Act? If so, why does the SD not call for repeal of the CA?

Let's remember that, when Ducasse and others wrote the SD in and before May 2005, six MPs who had all voted for the Clarity Act were still in the caucus: Bill Blaikie, Pat Martin, Alexa McDonough, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Peter Stoffer, and Yvon Godin. He did not confront them, and they did not oppose the SD.

This misses the point. When Ducasse was tasked with what became the SD, there was no opposition from these MPs, nor was there going to be.

The 'grinding point' was the same as it had always been: the Clarity Act was widely popular, and there would be a political price- severe challenges at the very least to advocating its repeal.

Answer: go around it. Pay formal homage to some motherhood principles, but just ignore all the substantive parts. Propose a new understanding from the government of Canda as if the Clairity Act never happened.

Simple and elegant. Politicaly astute.

If it ever occured to me that we might anyway some day be forced to acknowledge that in practice we were directly contradicting the main operative principles of the Clarity Act.... I don't remember it ever occuring to me. And even if it had, there is no reason that I would have seen it as necessarily a serious political challenge.

Gaian

For the attention of Ken

But you pose it as a conundrum to be resolved by logical debate, without the baggage of the real world's constituents. It is more than a "conundrum" to be resolved by what is shaping up as a relentless pursuit of some Socratean truth. Suggesting that we of the real world "might at least have the decency to stay out of it," was of course too much to resist.

This is the "real world" that you would discard in your dogged pursuit of "truth":

Ken: "The 'grinding point' was the same as it had always been: the Clarity Act was widely popular, and there would be a political price- severe challenges at the very least to advocating its repeal.

Answer: go around it. Pay formal homage to some motherhood principles, but just ignore all the substantive parts. Propose a new understanding from the government of Canda as if the Clairity Act never happened.

Simple and elegant. Politicaly astute."

----------------

Absolutely necessary in the real world.

KenS

When we get put on the hot seat for what we mean about the Clarity Act, the other parties do not have to say or clarify where they stand.

The Liberals cannot run away from it. So they have their answer- though they would probebly prefer this does not come back up.

The Conservatives have always stayed away from the Clarity Act because it is toxic in Quebec. They gave up on the Quebec project before the last election, but since there was nothing to gain by bringing the CA to the stage... they have continued to leave it alone.

But its all different now. They have given up on Quebec, dont need Quebec, AND they have everything to gain from watching us squirm. We can even lose on this both in Quebec and the ROC- whats not to love in putting the spotlight on us.

Its coming.

All this discussion of whether the SD really essentialy contradicts the Clarity Act is necessary for own purposes of clarification.

But dont be thinking the possible arguments there is not really a contradiction will make a bit of difference when we get attacked.

The common understanding of the Clarity Act- inculding that of the intelligentsia across party and ideological lines- is that it has absolutely nothing to do with the flowery language of high sounding general principles.

 

What the Clarity Act is about is very simple:

* Not only is simple majority not sufficient, we will not say what is sufficient, that is to be decided later. [We reserve the right to move the goalposts.]

* Quebec has to satisfy us that the question is clear enough. Period.

And it is widely popular in the ROC because it makes perfect sense to most people. 'Thats all just common sense isnt it?'

 

The Sherbrook Declaration went around the Clarity Act. Since we were no threat, nobody cared.

But that has changed.

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
Who mentioned a UDI in the absence of a referendum resulting in a "yes" majority?

You did, in your chart. You quoted the Clarity Act’s statement that “there is no right, under international law or under the Constitution of Canada, for the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally” as saying that Quebec does not have the right of self-determination. Clearly, that sentence refers to a UDI, not to a referendum.

This was more of a live issue in the year 2000 when the Clarity Act was passed. To some extent that was a red herring, introduced by the federal government having asked the Supreme Court if a UDI would be legal, a no brainer. But there was more than that.

Before 1974, the Parti Québécois programme stipulated that independence would be declared upon electing a majority of Parti Québécois MNAs.

The original idea had echoes. In December 1981 the PR convention supported two resolutions, one discarding the concept of association, the other saying the Quebec could declare independence without a referendum. Levesque threatened to resign; the two decisions were reversed in the “Renérendum” which was boycotted by those opposing Levesque’s threat.

From time to time the idea resurfaced. If I kept looking I am sure I would find someone suggesting it later than 1981.

KenS wrote:

If it ever occured to me that we might anyway some day be forced to acknowledge that in practice we were directly contradicting the main operative principles of the Clarity Act.... I don't remember it ever occuring to me.

Because we weren't. The Clarity Act didn't define a clear majority. We said at the time (March 2000) that it was 50%+1. If Dion had said "no, it isn't, so let's clarify that by defining it" then we would be contradicting it. He didn't. We aren't.

KenS

Wilf Day wrote:

On the right of self-determination, the SD is clear: the people of Quebec have the right to decide their future, and exercising that right is a political process. Legally formalizing it is not useful or necessary.  The CA also recognizes that the will of the population of Quebec, on whether the province should cease to be part of Canada and become an independent state, will determine that question. It then talks of the terms on which independence would take place

Correct, the SD is clear about self-determination. And the unqualified affirmation of 50% + 1, and of Quebec to determine the referendum question without interference from the government of Canada, is what makes the Sherbrook Declaration clear.

The 'Clarity' Act does the opposite. It sets out a lot of flowery uplifting language that sounds similar enough to paying homage to the principles of self determinatio. But it reserves all the decisions about requisite majority and referendum question in the final instance to the government of Canada.

The CA does not for example merely give primacy to the courts- which is largely obvious; it says the government of Canada will decide.

For example, if the governemnt of Canada decides the question is not acceptable, it will not negotiate. Period.

And pray tell, how can the Clarity Act be affirming the right of self-determination and "Legally formalizing it is not useful or necessary" when the CA reserves to the government of Canada the final say???

There is something fundamentally wrong with that picture.

Gaian

Ken: "The Sherbrook Declaration went around the Clarity Act. Since we were no threat, nobody cared.

But that has changed."

-

Would Steve's declaration of Quebec's "nation" status in the meantime help quell your fears about future elections...at least on this point?

Unionist

Wilf Day wrote:

Unionist wrote:
Who mentioned a UDI in the absence of a referendum resulting in a "yes" majority?

You did, in your chart. You quoted the Clarity Act’s statement that “there is no right, under international law or under the Constitution of Canada, for the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally” as saying that Quebec does not have the right of self-determination. Clearly, that sentence refers to a UDI, not to a referendum.

Sorry, Wilf, "unilaterally" very obviously means, without an amendment to the Constitution allowing it. The Clarity Act clearly forbids secession after a referendum unless the Constitution is amended to allow it.

In any event, even if, contrary to all the discourse in Québec, the National Assembly decided to secede without a referendum - what business would that be of Canada's? Teaching us how to run our affairs? Giving permission based on proper behaviour? The SD does not make secession conditional upon a referendum. The CA makes it conditional on far more than a referendum.

You know, the reason I opened this thread was your statement (bewildering to me, then and now) that the Sherbrooke Declaration didn't contradict the Clarity Act. I decided to check chapter and verse (rather than what various politicians have said about the documents) and provided my conclusions above, quoting chapter and verse. When you have time (and I know it's time-consuming), I'd appreciate if you could do likewise. If my interpretation or quotes are wrong, please show me where.

Does the SD require repeal of the CA? That's not the key question for me. The key question is this:

Does the NDP, and do its leadership candidates, really grasp and support what they adopted in convention in 2006? Or is it open to some kind of reinterpretation which in effect denies Québec's right to self-determination? To me, the words are very clear and reassuring. But if Wilf's conclusion is correct - then it's a fraud. That would be unfortunate.

 

KenS

Do you disagree with this Wilf, that the common understanding has always been this:

What the Clarity Act is about is vey simple:
* Not only is simple majority not sufficient, we will not say what is sufficient, that is to be decided later. [We reserve the right to move the goalposts.]
* Quebec has to satisfy us that the question is clear enough. Period.

 

Dion would not nail down what is a 'clear majority' so that it could be anything.

He would not formally say that simple majority was not enough, becaue that would mean he would have to say what it is.

But everybody knew that the shot across the bow was that simple majority would NOT be enough. AND, the langauge of the CA unequivocally says that solely the government of Canad decides.

So Dion and the CA not setting the line, does not mean that we never in practice contradicted it. This is not a court of law.

Wilf Day

KenS wrote:

Do you disagree with this Wilf, that the common understanding has always been this:

What the Clarity Act is about is very simple:
* Not only is simple majority not sufficient, we will not say what is sufficient, that is to be decided later. [We reserve the right to move the goalposts.]

I don't find anyone talking about it, but if they did, it would probably be to justify a contention that "it should be more than 50%+1." Never that "We reserve the right to move the goalposts." I can't imagine anyone I would meet at the rink, or on the street, or in the pub, agreeing with that. It's an argument for us.

Unionist

Wilf, I can't believe I'm quoting Wikipedia, but this is further reply to your extraordinary definition of UDI meaning "without a referendum":

Quote:

A declaration of independence is an assertion of the independence of an aspiring state or states. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state. Not all declarations of independence are successful and result in independence for these regions.

Such declarations are typically made without the consent of the parent state, and hence are sometimes called unilateral declarations of independence (UDIs), particularly by those who question the declarations' validity.

Clear??

UDI means secession without the consent of Canada. It doesn't mean secession without the consent of the people of Québec.

The Sherbrooke Declaration recognizes and "permits" UDI. The Clarity Act does not. That's what the right to self-determination ultimately is about. The right to establish one's own state, without external constraint.

 

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:

UDI means secession without the consent of Canada. It doesn't mean secession without the consent of the people of Québec.

Back to your chart: it said the CA states "there is no right, under international law or under the Constitution of Canada, for the National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec to effect the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally" as saying that Quebec does not have the right of self-determination. Wrong. "The National Assembly, legislature or government of Quebec." Not "the people of Quebec." The National Assembly has no right to declare independence without a referendum. Clear?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I read "to effect" as substantively different from "to declare." If the people of Quebec vote for sovreignty in a referendum, they will need the National Assembly "to effect" that change.

Gaian

It just seems that in Quebec, one has always had to be very careful in deciding who to believe when identifying the road to salvation. P.E.T. always held that the workers of Quebec wanted jobs, first, and endless discussion about their role in Canada, second. Isn't that still the case in the face of rising unemployment, the need for someone capable of correcting Steve's pre-occupation with the Alberta model? Isn't that a partial explanation of the May 2 results last year?

Who's the "we" when it comes to that kind of relevant consideration ? Only the war camp of the Cons can benefit from this kind of endless parsing of a party's attempts to survive and grow without support of the MSM to help explain its attempt to do the right thing. And you know how the forces of Pierre Karl Peladeau will explain it to Quebec's readers - no matter who wins this little demonstration of need for purity on the part of the party. There will be no such concern for niceties in Pierre's press.

If we can get the economics right, there will be no "serious trouble down the road in Quebec." But that, of course, is never touched upon in the dissection of chichen entrails in Neverland.

Lord Palmerston

Unionist wrote:
The Clarity Act is colonial and paternalistic. It is based on the notion that Quebecers will elect a government that tries to trick them into separating from Canada, and that the House of Commons must save them from this fate.

Not a legal treatise, but it's absolutely true. Right now I'm undecided over whether Sherbrooke contradicts the Clarity Act, but I do think the Clarity Act needs to go, for the reasons outlned above.

Lord Palmerston

KenS wrote:
The real battle, and the pressing need, is to advance and defend the Sherborooke Declaration.... which is going to be enough of a challenge.

Exactly.

Unionist

 

[Crossposted with Catchfire - I agree with his comment - the following was addressed to Wilf:]

You're suggesting that the Clarity Act, by that formulation, allows "the people of Québec" (though not their elected government or National Assembly or legislature - not sure who drafted this shitty act as if legislature is something different) the right to effect secession unilaterally? That's just plain weird. And that's not the wording, the spirit, or the whole edifice upon which the Act is built.

Everyone knows what "no right to secede unilaterally" means. It means you need the consent of the mother ship. And that's where the Sherbrooke Declaration says "yes", and the Clarity Act says "no" - in remarkably clear terms.

Sorry, Wilf, I think you and I are rapidly approaching the point where we need to agree to disagree. But I will repeat, yet again, that if you're right - the NDP is in serious trouble down the road in Québec. We don't need no mother ship to tell us where to swim and when.

 

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
Everyone knows what "no right to secede unilaterally" means. It means you need the consent of the mother ship. And that's where the Sherbrooke Declaration says "yes", and the Clarity Act says "no" - in remarkably clear terms.

The difference between the two is how the decision is recognized. The SD says we state in advance that 50%+1 will be recognized. The CA says vote first, threshold afterwards. Lewis Carroll would applaud. But seriously, that's futile posturing. I would love it if someone tried to say with a straight face that, if Quebec votes for sovereignty, they'll change their minds if we say "sorry, that wasn't the number." Rick Mercer would have a field day.

But there is no argument how a decision, once recognized, would be implemented. Both the CA and the SD, as well as both Dion and Bouchard, start from the Supreme Court decision:

Quote:
The federalism principle, in conjunction with the democratic principle, dictates that the clear repudiation of the existing constitutional order and the clear expression of the desire to pursue secession by the population of a province would give rise to a reciprocal obligation on all parties to Confederation to negotiate constitutional changes to respond to that desire. The amendment of the Constitution begins with a political process undertaken pursuant to the Constitution itself. In Canada, the initiative for constitutional amendment is the responsibility of democratically elected representatives of the participants in Confederation. Those representatives may, of course, take their cue from a referendum, but in legal terms, constitution-making in Canada, as in many countries, is undertaken by the democratically elected representatives of the people. The corollary of a legitimate attempt by one participant in Confederation to seek an amendment to the Constitution is an obligation on all parties to come to the negotiating table. The clear repudiation by the people of Quebec of the existing constitutional order would confer legitimacy on demands for secession, and place an obligation on the other provinces and the federal government to acknowledge and respect that expression of democratic will by entering into negotiations and conducting them in accordance with the underlying constitutional principles already discussed. 

The continued existence and operation of the Canadian constitutional order cannot remain indifferent to the clear expression of a clear majority of Quebecers that they no longer wish to remain in Canada. This would amount to the assertion that other constitutionally recognized principles necessarily trump the clearly expressed democratic will of the people of Quebec. Such a proposition fails to give sufficient weight to the underlying constitutional principles that must inform the amendment process, including the principles of democracy and federalism. The rights of other provinces and the federal government cannot deny the right of the government of Quebec to pursue secession, should a clear majority of the people of Quebec choose that goal, so long as in doing so, Quebec respects the rights of others. Negotiations would be necessary to address the interests of the federal government, of Quebec and the other provinces, and other participants, as well as the rights of all Canadians both within and outside Quebec.

Question 1 does not ask how secession could be achieved in a constitutional manner, but addresses one form of secession only, namely unilateral secession. Although the applicability of various procedures to achieve lawful secession was raised in argument, each option would require us to assume the existence of facts that at this stage are unknown. In accordance with the usual rule of prudence in constitutional cases, we refrain from pronouncing on the applicability of any particular constitutional procedure to effect secession unless and until sufficiently clear facts exist to squarely raise an issue for judicial determination.

. . . a clear majority vote in Quebec on a clear question in favour of secession would confer democratic legitimacy on the secession initiative which all of the other participants in Confederation would have to recognize.

The continued existence and operation of the Canadian constitutional order could not be indifferent to a clear expression of a clear majority of Quebecers that they no longer wish to remain in Canada. The other provinces and the federal government would have no basis to deny the right of the government of Quebec to pursue secession, should a clear majority of the people of Quebec choose that goal, so long as in doing so, Quebec respects the rights of others.

The court added a caution:

Quote:
The task of the Court has been to clarify the legal framework within which political decisions are to be taken "under the Constitution", not to usurp the prerogatives of the political forces that operate within that framework. The obligations we have identified are binding obligations under the Constitution of Canada. However, it will be for the political actors to determine what constitutes "a clear majority on a clear question" in the circumstances under which a future referendum vote may be taken. Equally, in the event of demonstrated majority support for Quebec secession, the content and process of the negotiations will be for the political actors to settle. The reconciliation of the various legitimate constitutional interests is necessarily committed to the political rather than the judicial realm precisely because that reconciliation can only be achieved through the give and take of political negotiations. To the extent issues addressed in the course of negotiation are political, the courts, appreciating their proper role in the constitutional scheme, would have no supervisory role.

http://scc.lexum.org/en/1998/1998scr2-217/1998scr2-217.html

So, does secession need the consent of the mother ship? The court has made it as clear as they could. Neither the Clarity Act nor the Sherbrooke Declaration really diverge from the court's conclusions.

Unionist

This is about self-determination. It's the opposite of colonialism. And it's not about "how much", "what question", "when can we leave". It's about WHO - who decides. And who has no right to interfere.

I think I need a new chart. I'll try it this way. In what follows, "CA" means both the Clarity Act and the Supreme Court:

Quote:
Who decides whether the question is clear?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec.

Who decides whether the majority is sufficient?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec.

Whose legislation determines whether the referendum is legitimate?

CA: Canada's (Clarity Act). SD: Québec's (Loi sur la consultation populaire).

Who decides whether Québec can secede?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec and Québec alone.

I'm not sure why you're quoting the Supreme Court decision. Québec did not appear before the Supreme Court. It refused to appear, because not a single party in the Assemblée nationale recognizes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to rule on Québec's right to secede. The Court's decision, and the Clarity Act, are based on the colonial notion that Canada has the slightest say whatsoever in whether or not Québec secedes. No one in Québec accepts such interference.

Of course, if Québec decides that it wants to stay in Canada, under (say) different terms, that can't be unilateral. That requires negotiations, and consent of all parties. But not divorce. No agreement is required. Except if you believe the Supreme Court and the Clarity Act.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

George, have you ever thought about ascribing to the thought of that very youth you're seeking to protect. I'm not sure they share the same worries as you. They're especially not worried about the market economy, yet.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Take another pill/ I don;t think so...

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Go, Canada, go!

KenS

Wilf Day wrote:

The difference between the two is how the decision is recognized. The SD says we state in advance that 50%+1 will be recognized. The CA says vote first, threshold afterwards.I would love it if someone tried to say with a straight face that, if Quebec votes for sovereignty, they'll change their minds if we say "sorry, that wasn't the number."

This is central to how you parse into existence an essential common ground in practice between the SA and CD.

It is NOT going to be the federal government trying to move the goal posts after the referendum vote. Yes, THAT would be futile even though the CA gives it the power.

The nub of difference between the CA and SD comes earlier, and goes like this.

The Quebec government announces that there will be a referendum and the threshold is 50% + 1.

The Clarity Act arrogates the power for the federal government to say, that is not enough, therefore we will not recognize the outcome.

The Sherbrooke Declaration says simply that the federal government will recognize the outcome. Period.

Do you still say there is no essential contradiction between the Clarity Act and the Sherbrooke Declaration?

KenS

Wilf, you keep bringing up that everyone says that they agree with the Supreme Court desicion. Dion says the Clarity Act was informed by it. The NDP says the same about the SD. Bouchard says he agrees with it. You talk as if that establishes a common ground. It only means that everyone SAYS they are following the Court. Well of course.

Unionist wrote:

You're suggesting that the Clarity Act, by that formulation, allows "the people of Québec" (though not their elected government or National Assembly or legislature - not sure who drafted this shitty act as if legislature is something different) the right to effect secession unilaterally? That's just plain weird. And that's not the wording, the spirit, or the whole edifice upon which the Act is built.

Everyone knows what "no right to secede unilaterally" means. It means you need the consent of the mother ship. And that's where the Sherbrooke Declaration says "yes", and the Clarity Act says "no" - in remarkably clear terms.

I also made this point above. You act Wilf as if the CA has common ground because there is flowery language in it referring to the 'rights of the people of Quebec'. But none of that flowery language has anything enforcable. What is enforcable gives ALL power on the question of adequate majority and question wording to the federal government.

Gaian

This is essentially an exercise in "the left's" much vaunted capacity for producing heat with little relevancy for the folks trying to make a life out there. Essentially an exercise in ego.

Unionist

George - all parties and the whole left-right spectrum in Québec are unanimous in rejecting the Clarity Act. I don't expect that reality check to mean much to you, but perhaps it will to others.

 

Gaian

I lived in Quebec during the first two years of the Quiet Revolution, about the time you were growing out of short pants, and got to know Exactly what independence from paternalism and domination by the moneyed English of Montreal meant. I have been waiting a half-century for those social democrats I got to know - and they were gracious in their victory - to establish some sort of confidence in their new-found legislative powers. The globalized economy and authority of investment capital, together with the pull of anh inviting pan-Canadian social democratic movement, presented by Messrs Jack and Tom have brought the long-standing hope to reality.

And you want the party to what.. drop the Clarity ACt, expunge it in the next campaign? Did it hurt to let it wither on the vine last time out? Would it hurt to say that it is not helpful, and that the SD trumps it, in the opinion of Canada's social democrats?

But can I expect one who campaigns from an other-worldly idealism, who was admittedly gob-smacked by the May 2 results, to understand the meaning of dropping the CA for the electorate in the ROC now that the party is so dependent on Quebec's voters? From past experience, clearly not.

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
I think I need a new chart. I'll try it this way. In what follows, "CA" means both the Clarity Act and the Supreme Court:

Quote:
Who decides whether the question is clear?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec.

Who decides whether the majority is sufficient?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec.

Whose legislation determines whether the referendum is legitimate?

CA: Canada's (Clarity Act). SD: Québec's (Loi sur la consultation populaire).

Who decides whether Québec can secede?

CA: Canada. SD: Québec and Québec alone.

Better than your last chart, which I already tried to comment on.

The SD clearly goes beyond the CA in many ways we don't need to summarize again.

But it doesn't say the CA should be repealed. Why?

Perhaps we should ask Pierre Ducasse, but here's my answer: The CA is in fact ambiguous.

It doesn't say Quebec has no right of self-determination. It is founded on the Supreme Court decision which says, in reality, it does. I quoted it earlier, but to quote the bottom line again: "other provinces and the federal government would have no basis to deny the right of the government of Quebec to pursue secession, should a clear majority of the people of Quebec choose that goal, so long as in doing so, Quebec respects the rights of others."

It doesn't define a majority. The SD does.

It doesn't say what makes a referendum question clear and legitimate. It says that Parliament will decide, before the referendum. This role given to the federal parliament does potentially contradict the notion of self-determination within Quebec. Note that the SD also has some weasel words we've been pretending to ignore: "It would be to the Federal government to determine its own process in the Spirit of the Supreme Court ruling and under international law, in response to the results of the popular consultation in Quebec." What does that mean to you? To me, it is clear that implementation of a vote for sovereignty would require negotiations which the 1995 referendum question said would take up to a year. It hardly said Canada "has no right to interfere." Everyone knows that assets and debts would have to be divided, and a long list of other issues such as:

monetary policy;

labour mobility;

citizenship;

free movement of individuals;

free movement of services;

trade (customs union?) and free movement of goods;

free movement of capital?

In short: the SD starts from the CA, corrects its negative tone, corrects its mistakes, and adds all the missing positive dimensions. It does not call for its repeal which it does not say is necessary.

KenS

Repealing the CA is not necessary because it is not strictly binding on any future government of Canada. It says that the federal government has these sweeping powere. It does not and cannot say a future goverment must use them. So an NDP governemnt was always free to ignore the Clarity Act definition of federal powers, and did not need a Sherbrooke Declaration at all for defining powers.

No matter how egregiously offensive the CA was/is, it did not and does not need repeal. But what you minimize as "mistakes" [Dion and Chretien seemed pretty sure of what they were doing] and negative tones did require an answer and a de facto replacement.

Wilf Day

KenS wrote:
But what you minimize as "mistakes" [Dion and Chretien seemed pretty sure of what they were doing] and negative tones did require an answer and a de facto replacement.

Agreed. And I didn't mean accidental mistakes, of course; I meant major political mistakes.

Unionist

Wilf Day wrote:

 

The SD clearly goes beyond the CA in many ways we don't need to summarize again.

But it doesn't say the CA should be repealed. Why?

Well, my answer would be: Because the CA is a law of Canada. It doesn't bind a separate state of Québec, should the people of Québec decide to exercise their right to self-determination in that manner.

The CA does, however, bind Canada, obviously, as long as it is in effect. So, for example, if Québec were to hold a referendum, and 75% voted "yes", and Québec established a separate state, and Parliament didn't like the question or the percentage (because let's say the turnout was tiny) or both - then, unfortunately, Canada would not be allowed to sit down and negotiate the whole list of items which, clearly, need to be negotiated any time there is a breakup of a federation, or the accession to independence of an annexed or colonized area, etc.

So, for the good of Canada, and to free its hands at the bargaining table, it should repeal the CA.

Quote:
Note that the SD also has some weasel words we've been pretending to ignore: "It would be to the Federal government to determine its own process in the Spirit of the Supreme Court ruling and under international law, in response to the results of the popular consultation in Quebec." What does that mean to you?

Exactly what I said above. The SD is exceedingly clear: The people of Québec have the sovereign right to determine their political and constitutional status, without the slightest interference from others. As for Canada, it obviously has the sovereign right to determine how Canada will act in response to Québec's actions. There is absolutely no contradiction in the SD. Again, unfortunately, the CA does not rule out the use or threat of force, nor other means (appealing to the courts or the U.N.) to block Québec's secession. The SD does rule out all that.

Quote:
To me, it is clear that implementation of a vote for sovereignty would require negotiations which the 1995 referendum question said would take up to a year. It hardly said Canada "has no right to interfere." Everyone knows that assets and debts would have to be divided, and a long list of other issues such as:

Yes - negotiations are required - but therein lies another key difference between the CA and the SD. In the CA, negotiations (which can only follow a Canada-approved referendum - are a precondition to secession. In the SD, there are no preconditions to secession. Negotiations will obviously be necessary, but they can take place between sovereign states, as Canada does on similar lists of issues with the U.S. and others.

Quote:
In short: the SD starts from the CA, corrects its negative tone, corrects its mistakes, and adds all the missing positive dimensions. It does not call for its repeal which it does not say is necessary.

Québec does not recognize the Clarity Act nor the Supreme Court decision. Québec didn't even bother gracing the Supreme Court reference with an appearance. There is no more need (for Québec) to have the CA repealed than there is for it to get the Court to reconsider its decision. It's Canada which would be well-advised to achieve both those ends - and to recognize, once and for all, as the NDP finally did in 2006 for the very first time in its history, Québec's unconstrained and inalienable right to self-determination.

 

Unionist

KenS wrote:

Repealing the CA is not necessary because it is not strictly binding on any future government of Canada. It says that the federal government has these sweeping powere. It does not and cannot say a future goverment must use them.

Ken - you've said this several times, and with respect, you're mistaken. I quoted chapter and verse [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/sherbrooke-declaration-vs-clar..., showing that the CA is absolutely binding on the House of Commons, on the government, and on individual Ministers. Check the use of the words "shall" and "shall not" throughout. It gives the House tight time limits to oversee any referendum question, etc., and prohibits ministers from trying to introduce constitutional amendments unless the House likes what Québec is doing. There are no "sweeping powers", only sweeping obligations.

 

KenS

We do not differ on what is IN the Clarity Act. Part of the reason this gets bogged down in textual exigesis, is not only the texts themselves; but that many of the crucial 'facts on the ground' that are or would be set in motion [or not] are not and cannot be 'read out' from the text.

And its a fact: if an NDP federal government, or any future government of Canada chooses to leave Quebec to its own determinations, there is nothing in the Clarity Act, nor could there be, which means they cannot just step back and support the process of a Quebec referendum.... negotiating what follows if there is a choice for independence.

I'm sorry if sometimes I am unclear or sloppy about differentiating between text and practical realities set in motion by the text. But I'm really fed up with being bogged down in discussing ONLY the text.

Hence, starting the thread that attempts to distill it down to and work from popular understandings of the CA and SD.

Unionist

Okay, Ken, but in my experience, when dealing with a statute, the words are pretty important.

 

Gaian

I'm beginning to understand how Quebec's unions are so divided (confused?) in their political loyalties/affiliation. The realities of the new world economy, translated by Peladeau, will probably be a sharp corrective to that.

Wilf Day

Unionist wrote:
Yes - negotiations are required - but therein lies another key difference between the CA and the SD. In the CA, negotiations (which can only follow a Canada-approved referendum - are a precondition to secession. In the SD, there are no preconditions to secession. Negotiations will obviously be necessary, but they can take place between sovereign states, as Canada does on similar lists of issues with the U.S. and others.

I think we've ironed out almost all the questions, so I'm tempted to leave this thread alone. But on this one issue, I disagree. On many of the issues listed above, the negotiations would, of necessity, take place before the proclamation of sovereignty, just as the 1995 referendum question said. But this is a question of mechanics, timing and stages of implementation, and has little relevance to the political stance of the NDP.

The Supreme Court decision, and hence the CA, are internally contradictory on this point. In the case of the Supreme Court decision, this was deliberate. They tried to avoid deciding a question not before them (as any court should). Their discussion suggested both that agreement might be a pre-condition and also that Canada would have no choice but to reach agreement. It's odd that no one here seems to have suggested that such issues might have to be sent to arbitration, but I think some of the academic discussion of the hypothetical process has made that suggestion. No, I'm not going to look it up.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

KenS wrote:

Repealing the CA is not necessary because it is not strictly binding on any future government of Canada. It says that the federal government has these sweeping powere. It does not and cannot say a future goverment must use them....

 

No matter how egregiously offensive the CA was/is, it did not and does not need repeal.

There are many statutes on the books that give sweeping powers to the federal government without obliging the government to use them. But that's no argument at all for not repealing them if the use of such "egregiously offensive" powers is considered undesirable. 

What a hypothetical future NDP government might or might not do, or be free to do, should not be the criterion.

The Clarity Act is "egregiously offensive" to Quebec's right of self-determination and therefore its repeal is of the utmost necessity, quite apart from its symbolic significance and the message its repeal would send to Quebec.

Gaian

MS: "What a hypothetical future NDP government might or might not do, or be free to do, should not be the criterion.

The Clarity Act is "egregiously offensive" to Quebec's right of self-determination and therefore its repeal is of the utmost necessity, quite apart from its symbolic significance and the message its repeal would send to Quebec."

All very true, MS.

But should we not be primarily concerned, at this point, about meeting the electoral "needs" of both Quebec and the ROC in trying to become that "hypothetical future NDP government?" Sort of first things first in an information climate of obfuscation, lies and distortion created and maintained by the owned media? Steve admitted to the presence of a "Quebec Nation" after New Democrats agonized and brought forth the Sherbrooke Declaration. Why are we engaged here in micro analysis of givens? How often does one have to don sackcloth smeared with ashes and "admit" that, of course, French Canada must defend its cultural existence?

But at the same time, recognize that those same folks are equally concerned, at the moment, about New Democrats pulling their economic irons out of the fire, partly through a unity that will allow for CANADA WIDE ECONOMIC policy to be enacted. Small may be beautiful, but at the moment, parochial is the pits.

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