This is an interesting article as it raises the question once again of who has what right when it comes to unity or separation.
I don't agree with the rationale behind arguing that the 1980 referendum did not establish Quebec's right to secede, if only because that right I believe already existed.
There are many who in studying the way this country came about conclude that this is essentially an at-will relationship meaning either side could leave. Confederation persists only as long as all parties wish it to but no party can be held in against its will. This naturally means not only could Quebec secede if it wished but the rest of the country could secede from Quebec if it wished. Naturally the latter idea is on only wackos subscribe to but not because the right is not there but because of the understanding that a Canada, sans Quebec is a smaller, weaker less important union. Often the analogy of a marriage is used (another at will relationship). The point is that if either spouse wants to leave the marriage is dissolved.
The article basically concludes that Canada has to agree for Quebec to leave. This is an absurd conclusion as it supposes that Canada has a right to keep an unwilling Quebec in Confederation to its benefit. I thought we were past that.
I think the confusion comes from the nature of a divorce and the negotiation of a divorce. If Quebec decided it wanted to leave, it clearly has the right. However, it does not have the ability to dictate the terms of the divorce-- and neither does Canada. Ultimately, good and peaceful relations would rely on the arrival at a consensus. Of course such a consensus would be difficult on such a loaded issue. To make matters worse there is no higher authority such as a court for divorcing couples to resolve differences. We would simply have to work it out. Because the actual negotiations look so uncertain, some people including Johnson mistake that for a lack of clarity when it comes to rights. Either side has the right to stay or go.
As well the negotiating position of the one who is less invested in the union is greater than the one more invested. There is no cosmic fairness to this reality but it exists nonetheless and can't be helped.