The NDP and Québec's right to self-determination

45 posts / 0 new
Last post
Unionist
The NDP and Québec's right to self-determination

<>

Todrick of Chat...

Yes, no, maybe....

Unionist

Jack Layton cannot support the 1998 Supreme Court decision and his own party's Sherbrooke Declaration simultaneously. Everyone understands that. He will have to figure that out fast:

[url=http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canada/politique-canadienne/... unanimously criticized in Quebec City[/url]

Quote:
Federalists and sovereignists alike reminded Jack Layton of the unanimous position of the National Assembly concerning a future referendum: It's the rule of 50% + 1 which will prevail. "Self-determination and the right of the National Assembly to decide can't be questioned. [...] We have adopted very precise laws. Here in Québec, it's the 50% + 1 rule which applies," said Pierre Moreau, [Liberal] Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. [NOTE: He was referring to the fact that Layton said the Sherbrooke Declaration was "still valid", while in the same breath saying the 1998 Supreme Court reference was "excellent" and "accepted by both camps" and a "basis for determining the result of a future referendum".]

In fact, the Chrétien government based its Clarity Act on the Supreme Court reference. This act left Ottawa to determine what constituted a clear question and a clear majority. It was unanimously denounced by the National Assembly. "If Mr. Layton has a different opinion, he can express it. But it won't change the rules in any way," said Minister Moreau.

[Pauline Marois accused Layton of having reneged on his election campaign statements.]

Amir Khadir asked Mr. Layton to respect the Sherbrooke Declaration, which he boasted about during the election campaign. "If Mr. Layton starts caving in now, it will unfortunately ruin, once and for all, any possibility of a dialogue between the nation of Québec and the nation of Canada," said the Québec solidaire MNA.

Amen.

ETA: My translation.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

This just in:  NDP beats nationalist drum at Quebec gathering

By Philip Authier, Postmedia News May 28, 2011 10:43 PM

excerpt:

But even with the election over and done with, the NDP is continuing to beat the Quebec nationalist drum, vowing to respect the results of any future sovereignty referendum — even if the vote is razor thin.

“People know we will treat Quebec with respect,” Layton said in a speech to the Quebec wing of the party Saturday. Holding the Quebec flag still higher, Layton said the same philosophy was in play when the party adopted its Sherbrooke Declaration. That declaration says that an NDP government would respect Quebec’s right to decide its future, draft its own referendum question and that a 50-per-cent-plus-one vote constitutes a majority — enough to secede from Canada.

“It’s written in black and white . . . without question or ambiguity,” Layton said.

The dual face of the NDP — staunchly federalist in the rest of Canada and resolutely nationalist here — was on display at the rally, officially a meeting of the NDP Quebec general council, the first since the May 2 election that saw 59 NDP candidates elected.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Layton will be under very close scrutiny from here on in to see if he or the party ever deviates from "50% + 1", and especially outside Quebec.

KenS

I assumed that Jack Layton has prepared himself well for not being drawn into explicitly contradicting the Clarity Act... leaving the Sherbrooke Declaration to do the talking.

The reference to the 1988 decision is a gaffe, because it raises hard questions easily asked of him.

Clarification:

I've seen reference to Jack affirming or praising the Clarity Act in 2005 or 2006. [During the election?] Is that true. If so, what exactly did he say?

KenS

There is no compelling reason- even for support in the ROC where the Clarity Act is broadly seen as a good thing- for Jack to have to explicitly support or criticise the Clarity Act.

All he has to do is stick to broadly shared democratic principles like 50% plus one. Those obviously contradict the spirit of the Clarity Act, and everyone will know he  is dodging the questions. But he can manage it. [For one (big) thing: its not a driving issue in the ROC. so big deal if the talking heads talk about Jack's dodging.]

Eventually the dodging will have to stop, and Jack needs to work the framing of the discussion towards that. Meanwhile....

KenS

I should clarify why I think the reference to the Supreme Court decision was a gaffe.  

Not just because of the reaction in Quebec.  

There very likely are other interpretations of the Supreme Court decision. That it does not have to lead to the Clarity Act or other infringements on self-determination.  

But if Jack does not want to get drawn into questions that it this point are no-win situations for him, he needs to stick to the Sherbrooke Declaration. Period.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

I've seen reference to Jack affirming or praising the Clarity Act in 2005 or 2006. [During the election?] Is that true. If so, what exactly did he say?

I roasted his ass on this board in December 2005 or January 2006 during the campaign when he did a 180 degrees, without any visible discussion with anyone, and said he supported the Clarity Act. I'll find you the references when and if I can. I correspondingly praised him to the skies when he "allowed" the Sherbrooke Declaration to make the floor of the 2006 Québec City convention and to pass, even though it was never publicizied and the document itself was virtually unobtainable, except I think on Pierre Ducasse's website (maybe Boivin's too).

ETA: Ok, Ken, here ya go in this [url=http://archive.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=next_topic&f=35&t=001... babble thread[/url] - it must have been December 7, 2005. From the OP:

Quote:

Yesterday in Montréal NDP leader Jack Layton contradicted his 2004 election position that he would repeal the Clarity Act, which outlines under which conditions the federal government can negotiate the secession of a province or region. He said that "We would not repeal the Clarity Act," because "It follows directly from the principles laid out by the Supreme Court and has been broadly accepted across the spectrum as a basis for proceeding." (see Globe & Mail story)

He further stated that "if you believe that Canada is a country you don't want to be a part of anymore, then you will vote for the Bloc." (see Edmonton Sun story)

It looks like instead of fundamentally changing the NDPs historical policies in order to court seperatist voters, he is cutting seperatists loose. This strategy assumes that the NDP is a federalist party that will never accept the idea that Québec separation is the best route to solve the national question anyways, so there's no use trying to change the party to become more accommodating to the seperatist movement. How will this affect NDP support in Québec, and federal politics as a whole? In the short term, this will cost the NDP the support of some soft nationalists in Québec. But in the long term is having a viable left alternative in Québec that isn't seperatist healthy for Québec and Canadian politics? Right now to a significant extent, probably to the detriment of the federalist cause, in Quebec the Liberals = Canada.

The media links are likely dead by now.

ETA squared: Here's at least one still-living link:

[url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051207/ndp_elexn_c... reverses course on Clarity Act[/url]

He was being advised by the same brain-dead opportunist assholes who told him not to call for withdrawal from Afghanistan, but rather to "demand" a debate in Parliament!

 

KenS

I'm going to read over everything. I think I would agree with you, at least in the main. Probably contmplate while I am back in the garden.

Notwithstaning that, and to not get distracted form the crucial substantive issues, I'll clear this out of the way now. You don't like policies and positions, fine. Solid ground there. But leave aside your brain dead speculations about where they come from.

I guarantee you that on any issue of as major as the two positions you have raised here, that if opportunism is the problem, then Jack Layton is the chief and driving opportunist. And if stupid opportunism is the problem, then Layton is the chief stupid opportunist.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

There is no ROC now and there never will be.  Get over it.  If Quebec chooses to cecede as is its right we will not see Canada just break into two parts.  The reason why we have such a hard time at constitutional change is precisely because Quebec is unique culturally, as are the Maritimes, N'fld, the Prairies, the West Coast and the North.  Canada is not a two part harmony it is a chorus.

I find the talk of Quebec ceding and then there being only two identities absurd but typical of people who live east of Winnipeg and south of Sudbury. 

Unionist

I don't agree, Ken. I know Jack personally and I respect him and his moral instincts. I think he follows a good dose of bad advice, and I see a lot of that reflected on this board. But I'm no party insider, and I stand to be corrected.

In the final analysis, though, I would agree that he's the leader, so he's responsible for the good and the dumb.

 

robbie_dee

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton cannot support the 1998 Supreme Court decision and his own party's Sherbrooke Declaration simultaneously.

According to the Sherbrooke Declaration:

Quote:
The NDP recognizes as well that the right to self determination implies that the Assemblee nationale is able to write a referendum question and that the citizens of Quebec are able to answer it freely.  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.

(emphasis mine).

I don't know if you meant to refer to the Clarity Act rather than the Supreme Court decision in your quote above and I don't mean to put words in your mouth. But it appears to me that the text of the Sherbrooke declaration itself already attempts to square the circle you are describing. 

I understand this qualifying language to acknowledge the authority of the Quebec legislature to frame a question and hold a referendum within its own jurisdiction, but reserve the authority of broader federal institutions and the Supreme Court to respond to the results of the Quebec government's consultation within the framework of the Canadian constitution and international law. Per the Supreme Court, it would include a duty to negotiate in good faith (by Quebec within the scope of the mandate to negotiate granted by the referendum result and by other constitutional actors possibly after seeking a mandate to negotiate from their own constituencies). It may (or may not) include an obligation to acknowledge a unilateral declaration of independence, depending on the circumstances. 

Unionist

robbie_dee wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton cannot support the 1998 Supreme Court decision and his own party's Sherbrooke Declaration simultaneously.

According to the Sherbrooke Declaration:

Quote:
The NDP recognizes as well that the right to self determination implies that the Assemblee nationale is able to write a referendum question and that the citizens of Quebec are able to answer it freely.  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.

(emphasis mine).

I don't know if you meant to refer to the Clarity Act rather than the Supreme Court decision in your quote above and I don't mean to put words in your mouth. But it appears to me that the text of the Sherbrooke declaration itself already attempts to square the circle you are describing.

Robbie_dee, with respect, please read what you quoted. CANADA will determine its process by reference to its own Supreme Court reference, international law, etc. - NOT QUÉBEC.

As I said before, Canada could even choose not to recognize a sovereign Québec - just as it doesn't recognize the current government in Gaza. But that doesn't in any way condition, modify, limit, or restrain Québec's right and power to formulate a referendum question and to have Quebeckers vote accordingly - and to secede if the referendum passes by 50% + 1. QUÉBEC is not bound by the Supreme Court ruling, whether its spirit, ghost, or anything else. I don't agree with everything in the Sherbrooke Declaration, but this part is crystal clear.

When Jack starts saying - as he did after his about-face during the 2005-6 campaign - that all camps in Québec accept the Supreme Court decision, that's where he starts to fall through the ice. He forgets that Québec refused to even appear before the Supreme Court to argue its case, so they had to appoint an amicus curiae to play-act that role.

Jack must say: "Québec is free to decide its own destiny - we will work unremittingly to prove that that destiny can best be fulfilled within the Canadian federation." Any less, and he can kiss the Orange Wave bye bye.

 

Unionist

Sorry, I was posting while you were editing. You added this in part:

robbie_dee wrote:
Per the Supreme Court, it would include a duty to negotiate in good faith (by Quebec within the scope of the mandate to negotiate granted by the referendum result and by other constitutional actors possibly after seeking a mandate to negotiate from their own constituencies). It may (or may not) include an obligation to acknowledge a unilateral declaration of independence, depending on the circumstances.

Correct! That's why Jack can't possibly support the Supreme Court decision. He must affirm that an NDP government would recognize the results of a made-in-Québec referendum which passed by 50% + 1. That's what the Sherbrooke Declaration says - more importantly, that's what everyone in Québec believes that it says - and that's what helped break the historic icejam stopping the NDP from making any gains here.

 

Roscoe

Unionist wrote:

robbie_dee wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton cannot support the 1998 Supreme Court decision and his own party's Sherbrooke Declaration simultaneously.

According to the Sherbrooke Declaration:

Quote:
The NDP recognizes as well that the right to self determination implies that the Assemblee nationale is able to write a referendum question and that the citizens of Quebec are able to answer it freely.  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.

(emphasis mine).

I don't know if you meant to refer to the Clarity Act rather than the Supreme Court decision in your quote above and I don't mean to put words in your mouth. But it appears to me that the text of the Sherbrooke declaration itself already attempts to square the circle you are describing.

Robbie_dee, with respect, please read what you quoted. CANADA will determine its process by reference to its own Supreme Court reference, international law, etc. - NOT QUÉBEC.

As I said before, Canada could even choose not to recognize a sovereign Québec - just as it doesn't recognize the current government in Gaza. But that doesn't in any way condition, modify, limit, or restrain Québec's right and power to formulate a referendum question and to have Quebeckers vote accordingly - and to secede if the referendum passes by 50% + 1. QUÉBEC is not bound by the Supreme Court ruling, whether its spirit, ghost, or anything else. I don't agree with everything in the Sherbrooke Declaration, but this part is crystal clear.

When Jack starts saying - as he did after his about-face during the 2005-6 campaign - that all camps in Québec accept the Supreme Court decision, that's where he starts to fall through the ice. He forgets that Québec refused to even appear before the Supreme Court to argue its case, so they had to appoint an amicus curiae to play-act that role.

Jack must say: "Québec is free to decide its own destiny - we will work unremittingly to prove that that destiny can best be fulfilled within the Canadian federation." Any less, and he can kiss the Orange Wave bye bye.

 

Do you always run off and start a new thread when anyone dares to disagree with you?  Such ego! Think of the thread proliferation.

In any case, I just dropped by to say that I completely agree with your position.

Quebec is free to decide its own destiny. So is Canada. And the other Canadian provinces and the Aboriginal nations including the Innu and the northern Cree.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Unionist wrote:

Sorry, I was posting while you were editing. You added this in part:

robbie_dee wrote:
Per the Supreme Court, it would include a duty to negotiate in good faith (by Quebec within the scope of the mandate to negotiate granted by the referendum result and by other constitutional actors possibly after seeking a mandate to negotiate from their own constituencies). It may (or may not) include an obligation to acknowledge a unilateral declaration of independence, depending on the circumstances.

Correct! That's why Jack can't possibly support the Supreme Court decision. He must affirm that an NDP government would recognize the results of a made-in-Québec referendum which passed by 50% + 1. That's what the Sherbrooke Declaration says - more importantly, that's what everyone in Québec believes that it says - and that's what helped break the historic icejam stopping the NDP from making any gains here.

Unionist that 50% plus 1 is a concept that many seem to not grasp about democracy.  In BC we should have a different government because 59% of the voters voted for STV.  None of the parties including the BC NDP would accept that as the will of the people.

I can only imagine where we would be if the last referendum in Quebec had passed with 59% and the political class in the country said no way it requires a super majority.  I think we might have had  a civil war.  Apparently what should be a self evident truth about democracy is not so self evident to those who would protect the status quo.  

Unionist

robbie_dee wrote:

Quebec is part of the federal state of Canada now, and in my opinion it would not cease to be immediately upon a yes result in a referendum, even if the question was crystal clear and the result was overwhelming.

Of course it wouldn't cease immediately. Who said it would? However, if the National Assembly responded to such a vote by declaring independence unilaterally, Québec would then be out of the federation.

This is a political question. We progressive people recognize Québec's right to self-determination. So does the Sherbrooke Declaration. That means the right to leave, irrespective of how "negotiations" go. Think of the right of woman to leave her spouse, or to have an abortion.

Jack Layton has no need to deal with hypothetical questions, just because the MSM baits him. But in the crunch, he must affirm that whether Québec stays in the federation or not is the decision of Quebeckers - alone.

Quote:
That being said, the people of Quebec have the right to self determination and if they give a clear expression in favour of independence, that is entirely consistent with their exercise of that right and imposes significant duties on the rest of the federation to respond in a manner consistent with the legal obligation to respect Quebecers right to self-determination. In my view, this is where federal institutions like Parliament and the Supreme Court, both of which include substantial representation from Quebec, can make an important contribution.

That's just rhetoric which can be interpreted any which way - including, in extremis, sending in the troops when the National Post prints an article saying the ballot boxes were stuffed. Cut the rhetoric, please. Québec wants out, it's gone. That's what the NDP never, ever recognized before 2006. And it's one of the main reasons I left the NDP in the 1970s. This isn't a matter of smart electoral politics. It's a question of human rights, an end to annexation, an end to colonialism, opposition to aggression, the right of nations to determine their destiny.

robbie_dee

Edited to add the below was in response to Unionist's first post responding to me above:

Quebec is part of the federal state of Canada now, and in my opinion it would not cease to be immediately upon a yes result in a referendum, even if the question was crystal clear and the result was overwhelming. That being said, the people of Quebec have the right to self determination and if they give a clear expression in favour of independence, that is entirely consistent with their exercise of that right and imposes significant duties on the rest of the federation to respond in a manner consistent with the legal obligation to respect Quebecers right to self-determination. In my view, this is where federal institutions like Parliament and the Supreme Court, both of which include substantial representation from Quebec, can make an important contribution.

The State of Israel and its occupied territories are a very different case, among other things substantially because unlike Canada, the Palestinians have no current representation in the Israeli government. I know there are posters on this discussion board who favour a "one-state" solution for Israel/Palestine, i.e. the creation of a secular democratic state including all of the territory and with equal rights for all people residing in that territory.  Obviously there are a whole lot of issues which are different there from here, and there is a whole lot to discuss around those issues which isn't germane to the current topic. But I bring this up to note both the similarities and the differences. Palestinians and Quebecers both have the same essential "right" to self determination under international law, which right can ultimately be effectuated in either a one-state solution with equal treatment, or a two-state solution (and maybe a range of other solutions as well). Jewish Israelis also of course have the right to self-determination, as likely do a number of other distinct stakeholders (Druze, maybe certain Christian minorities, etc).  A real solution in Palestine, one which respects everyone's rights, requires the parties to try to demonstrate some respect for each other and to sit down and discuss the issues in good faith, just as in Canada. However the way to an acceptable outcome, in such a highly adversarial and militarized context as Palestine, is very different than in Canada.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Peggy Nash looked uncomfortable while totally avoiding the question on CTV's Question Period today - she did the same thing last week with Evan Solomon. Maybe Layton should replace her - she clearly is uncomfortable with discussing the issue, whether it's Jack's recent difficulty, the Sherbrooke Declaration, the Clarity Act, or the Supreme Court decision. She looks really, really out of her depth on these questions - strange, because she's so highly regarded, including by me.

NicHull

L'Actualite magazine has this intersting article:

http://www2.lactualite.com/jean-francois-lisee/layton-dans-le-piege-a-de...

Basically, it commends the NDP for sticking to the Sherbrooke Declaration and the 50%+1 principle but says that the party is now in a tough situation since that is contrary to the Clarity Act. Liberals and Conservatives will surely introduce a motion asking all parties to support the Clarity Act and expose the divisions within the NDP. Also, a future NDP government will face legal actions when it accepts Quebec's results without having first proceed to get rid or amend the Clarity Act or C-20.

Stockholm

She is the Finance critic, not the Intergovernmental Affairs critic - so why would you suggest getting rid of her as Finance critic over her not being fast enough on her feet in responding to a questions about a hypothetical referendum that has nothing to do with her critic portfolio.

BTW: It seesm like the media is spending a vast amount of time on this hypothetical referendum that might have a 51% Yes vote. Doesn't anyone think that rather than just assuming that Quebec would vote Yes in a referendum - the question instead ought to be "how can we avoid giving the PQ the 'winning conditions' it saus it needs before it would ever call a referendum in the first place?" and "if there is a referendum - what can we do to encourage Quebecers to vote NO?"

People can talk all night about this "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" 50+1 or 50+2 argument. Let's say that the government of Canada came out with a firm position that it would only recognize a referendum on separation if it was 60% - so then  what happens if there is a Yes vote of 50-59%??? It would lead to total constitutional crisis and possibly civil unrest. How do people think Quebecers would react if they voted 52% Yes to the question "Should Quebec become an independent country?" (not that there is the remotest chance that the PQ would ever ask such a direct simple question that would go down in flames) - and Ottawa said - sorry 48% trumps 52%? There would be riots in the street and the Canadian government would probably lose all legitimacy in Quebec. It would be a true "pyrrhic victory" for the No side.

That being said, in Chantal Hebert's book French Kiss (which is excellent) she devotes a whole chapter to events in the late 90s that got little attention but that would be a major setback to the Quebec independence movement - changes in foreign policy in France! Back in the 80s and early 90s, there was a lot of sympathy for Quebec sovereignty in Paris. The Gaullist party under Chirac saw an independent Quebec as a good way for France to have a "sphere of influence" in North America (yeah right). We now know that if the 1995 referendum had passed - Parizeau would have unilaterally declared independence - and he knew that France would have recognized Quebec. That would have been a HUGE step towards the Republic of Quebec and President Parizeau getting legitimacy in international law. All that chance in the late 90s - French politicians were aghast over how Yugoslavia dissolved into a bloody civil war after Germany recognized Croatia a little too quickly. The French political class for a variety of reasons lost all interest and sympathy with the Quebec nationalist movement - and Chirac became close personal friends with Jean Chretien!

So let's say pauline Marois decides to have a referendum with usual fuzzy meaningless question along the lines of "would you support possibly giving the government of Quebec a mandate to possibly negotiate a new arrangement with the government of Canada...?" and it gets 51% Yes - I would not hold my breath for ANY countries in the world to recognize Quebec as an independent country after such a narrow vote in favour of such a vague question that makes no concrete mention of Quebec actually becoming an independent country!

 

 

Stockholm

Jean Charest used to be the leader of the federal Conservative Party and he is the strongly federalist Premier of Quebec. I wonder why no one demands that he publicly endorse the Clarity Act and since his party has a majority in the Quebec National Assembly - the least he could do is pass a bill in Quebec City explicitly stating that the Government of Quebec supports the Clarity Act.

Instead Charest seems to take the same position as Jack layton. How is this possible???

BTW: There is no contradicion between the Clarity Act and saying that 50% + 1 is enough for a province to separate. The Clarity Act says there must be a "clear majority". No where does it define specifically what a clear majority is. The NDP has chosen to define it as 50%+1. I'm waiting to hear Harper or Rae or Dion or whoever give us their number. Until they do - this is a moot point.

PS: Lisee is a hard core separatist who loves the idea of creating a national unity crisis and of creating division among the federalist parties etc...but I actually don't think you will see any H of C motions on the Clarity Act. As much as Harper would love to try to embarrass the NDP - he also knows that doing something like that would be a major provocation to Quebec and would reinforce Quebecers hatred of Harper. Rae wouldn't be crazy about it either - he actually opposed the Clarity Act back in the late 90s and given that the Liberals still hope to becoem a factor again in Quebec - the last thing they need is to start waving a red flag at Quebec just to score a cheap shot at the NDP.

Unionist

There is no debate, anywhere in Québec, about 50%+1. There is no support for the Clarity Act. No one gives a damn what the Clarity Act says - because it constitutes foreign interference in the sole right of Quebeckers to determine how to exercise their sovereignty. All parties in Québec are unanimous on that point. All parties in Québec unanimously rejected the Supreme Court's right to adjudicate this issue.

But Stockholm has being trying to confuse this issue for years. It won't help him, and it certainly won't help the NDP. If the NDP doesn't clearly affirm that the decision to remain in Canada belongs to Quebeckers - alone - then its victory party here will be short-lived. If that causes it grief in the rest of the country, well, that's life. But if properly handled, it shouldn't.

 

Stockholm

Canada is NOT a "foreign" country. Quebec is part of Canada and all Quebecers are Canadian citizens. If however, at some future date 50% plus 1 of Quebecers indicate in a referendum that they wish to be a SEPARATE, INDEPENDENT COUNTRY then I believe that Canada should be the first country in the world to recognize the new Republic of Quebec.

I agree 100% that it is up to Quebecers ALONE to decide whether or not they want to be a 100% independent, country with no special ties to Canada.

If Quebec tried to use a 50.0001% Yes vote to a fuzzy ambiguous question like the one used in the 1995 referendum which made no mention at all of the words "independence" or "separation" - as a justification for a unilateral declaration of independence - Pauline Marois would be the laughing stock of the international community and you would probably be able to count on one hand the number of tin pot dictatorships that would recognize her as the Presidente of Quebec.

Aristotleded24

Once again, is this a burning issue that people in Quebec are dying to discuss, or is this being brought up by the chattering classes on both sides of the sovereignty issue to distract everyone from more important things?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:
  Once again, is this a burning issue that people in Quebec are dying to discuss, or is this being brought up by the chattering classes on both sides of the sovereignty issue to distract everyone from more important things?

The media are always looking for a sensational story - it's their bread and butter -  and, if it is one that makes the NDP look bad, they trip over their feet in their hurry to get it on the airwaves and in newsprint.

As for "50% + 1 vote" - hell, if anywhere near half the population want a divorce, then in a sense you've already lost them. The rest is mere semantics.

Todrick of Chat...

 

Do the First Nations in Quebec get their land back when this separation occurs? When can they separate from Quebec and the rest of Canada?

KenS

 

I think that in post19 robbie dee does a good job of linking what the Sherbrooke Declaration says, to the Supreme Court decision. I dont share his reservations about the SD, but agree with that description.

If this was just a discussion and debate within Quebec, I think that in itself the SD could be squared with affirmative statements about the Supreme Court decision.... notwithstanding the fact that it is not only sovereignists who see it primarily as the enabler of the Clarity Act.

The general principles of the decision can be affirmed while explicitly stating that this conferrs on Canada no right to act unilaterally. As I believe Lucien Bouchard approached the question at the time. Maybe that isnt terribly consistent, and maybe even the Quebec Liberals don't like conceding that much about the 1998 decision... but it is, or at least could be, a tenable position. Basically treat the Supreme Court as having said some wise things, albeit having no actual jurisdiction.

But this isn't a discussion that only takes place in Quebec. While the details are more close attended to in Quebec, there are political implications in the rest of Canada too.

That and the fact that Layton has in the past been all over the map about the Clarity Act. I think has done at least two reversals since he has been Leader- back and forth.

These two realities taken together mean that Jack has to stick to the Sherbrooke Declaration and stop free lancing away from it... even if he doesnt directly contradict it.

This most recent statement of approval of the Supreme Court decision is a perfect example. I do think that narrowly speaking that can be squared to the SD. Quebeckers don't have to like that. But thats not where the line of discussion will end. Because it leads straight to: "OK Mr. Layton, thats the way you choose to read the Supreme Court decision, but that definitely is not the Clairity Act reading of the decision, and you have said more than once that you approve of the Clarity Act." Thats a no win position to be in.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Layton and his entire caucus have to be careful now - they're the Official Opposition and fair game for the media, just as the government is. Don't forget the MSM are vultures looking for a kill.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Stockholm wrote:
  She is the Finance critic, not the Intergovernmental Affairs critic - so why would you suggest getting rid of her as Finance critic over her not being fast enough on her feet in responding to a questions about a hypothetical referendum that has nothing to do with her critic portfolio.

Good point. But she needs to anticipate these questions, because they'll probably keep coming. I agree, she should be asked questions relevant to her position. On both P&P and QP she looked like a deer caught in headlights.

robbie_dee

Unionist wrote:

Sorry, I was posting while you were editing. You added this in part:

robbie_dee wrote:
Per the Supreme Court, it would include a duty to negotiate in good faith (by Quebec within the scope of the mandate to negotiate granted by the referendum result and by other constitutional actors possibly after seeking a mandate to negotiate from their own constituencies). It may (or may not) include an obligation to acknowledge a unilateral declaration of independence, depending on the circumstances.

Correct! That's why Jack can't possibly support the Supreme Court decision. He must affirm that an NDP government would recognize the results of a made-in-Québec referendum which passed by 50% + 1. That's what the Sherbrooke Declaration says - more importantly, that's what everyone in Québec believes that it says - and that's what helped break the historic icejam stopping the NDP from making any gains here.

 

I suppose then this is the main point on which we disagree. I suspect that certain ambiguity in the Sherbrooke declaration was intended to have the result that different people could take a different interpretation from it.

The Supreme Court has said that a "clear majority" on a "clear question"  is required. As I understand it, the NDP has expressed the view that if it were in government it would regard 50% plus one as a "clear majority."  It has also indicatated it won't (at least prospectively) challenge the "clarity" of a question properly  formulated by the Quebec legislature.

Finally, the NDP recognized that in response to at least a 50% plus one affirmative vote of Quebecers in a referendum based on a question formulated by the Quebec legislature, the federal government should act within the "spirit of" the Supreme Court decision. (Use of the phrase "spirit of" was probably a further concession to the disputed jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, although it does not expressly endorse the position of those who dispute the Supreme Court's jurisdiction either). In my view, the duty to negotiate in good faith after such a result is really the key part the decision, and incorporates the rest  (including assessing what is the scope of the mandate to negotiate on both sides).

Where I am a little concerned and may part company with the position of the NDP in the Sherbrooke declaration is that, while I am not especially troubled by the 50% plus one position, I think conceding not to challenge the clarity of the question in advance could create bigger problems down the road.

Edited to add:

Unionist wrote:

This is a political question. We progressive people recognize Québec's right to self-determination. So does the Sherbrooke Declaration. That means the right to leave, irrespective of how "negotiations" go. Think of the right of woman to leave her spouse, or to have an abortion.

I acknowledge that Quebecers, and other peoples around the world (including the Scots to whose struggle for self-determination I feel particularly close) should have the "right to leave" a particular constitutional arrangement that no longer works for them. I think the duty to negotiate in good faith includes acknowledgment of that right as well. By way of analogy (and I admit its a little stretched) I would suggest that an employer which tries to compel striking employees to return to work when they have chosen not to (i.e. calling in the troops to break a strike), is per se violating its duty to negotiate in good faith.

Where I am concerned in this case is in determining whether or not Quebecers have in fact authorized their provincial government to exercise that right by way of a UDI. That will depend on the facts of the situation, and I also agree that the answer to the question is probably political more than legal.

robbie_dee

One other thing I find interesting about 50% plus one is that, at least where the threshhold is a mandate to negotiate without express authorization for a UDI, a 50% requirement may be higher than actually necessary. The 1980 Quebec referendum result, where only 40% endorsed a limited proposition to negotiate "sovereignty-association," in fact was read by the relevant political actors as a mandate to renegotiate the Constitution. We recall what the results of that were, we got the Charter and repatriation of the Constitution, but without the Quebec government's agreement, and then two failed attempts to bring Quebec onside eventually precipitated another referendum with a "harder" question. In 1995, the referendum question would have authorized Quebec to "become sovereign" after making a formal offer of economic partnership to the rest of Canada. This received a much higher threshhold of support, but still less than 50%. However this time, there were no further attempts to renegotiate Canada's constitutional structure in response.

I understand that in Scotland, Alex Salmond has floated the possibility of a referendum question with more than two choices, i.e.: (1) status quo, (2) more power for Scotland within the U.K. and (3) independence. What would Canada's federal politicians do if a Quebec government posed a similar question to its people, and the result was something like 40% independence, 40% for more power, and only 20% for the status quo? It would be a grave mistake indeed to regard the lack of a 50% plus one result for either independence or more power to be an endorsement of the status quo.

Unionist

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

 

Do the First Nations in Quebec get their land back when this separation occurs? When can they separate from Quebec and the rest of Canada?

Remind me - do they have their land back from Canada now? When can they separate from Canada?

I always appreciate those who remember First Nations' sovereignty primarily when we're discussing someone else's sovereignty.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

The general principles of the [Supreme Court] decision can be affirmed while explicitly stating that this conferrs on Canada no right to act unilaterally. As I believe Lucien Bouchard approached the question at the time.  [...] Basically treat the Supreme Court as having said some wise things, albeit having no actual jurisdiction.

You're exactly right. Even though no one in Québec recognized or participated in the SCC reference, Bouchard basically said, "Well, I'm pleasantly surprised that the Court affirmed some basic democratic principles." It was a matter of scoring political points.

But when Layton praises it, it's different from when the Québec government does so - because he necessarily speaks on behalf of Canada. He can say, if he likes: "I like the principles of the SCC decision - it won broad support - but nothing there detracts from the fact that staying, or leaving, will be a choice of the Québec people alone."

Quote:
These two realities taken together mean that Jack has to stick to the Sherbrooke Declaration and stop free lancing away from it... even if he doesnt directly contradict it.

Agreed - and I also agree with your statement of the risks involved in the way he is answering the questions. No wonder Peggy Nash is uncomfortable. They had better sort this one out fast - and I insist that it's an easy fix, unless they're afraid that anti-Québec chauvinism is so strong in their base elsewhere that they have to continue skating on thin ice.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Stockholm wrote:
She is the Finance critic, not the Intergovernmental Affairs critic - so why would you suggest getting rid of her as Finance critic over her not being fast enough on her feet in responding to a questions about a hypothetical referendum that has nothing to do with her critic portfolio.

I didn't mean replace her critic's post, rather replace her in the TV slot where she gets interviewed by the likes of Evan Solomon and Jane Tabor, both of whom made her look bad in the past few days, over this Quebec referendum issue. But, really, I guess the only one that can explain Layton's positions/contortions/flip flops last week would be Layton himself.

Todrick of Chat...

@unionist

No, the First Nations do have their stolen land back yet, however should they get the land back before anyone decides they should separate themselves from Canada.

All these threads about Quebec's rights has a nation yet no one wants to talk about the rights of the First Nations.

It is really nice you talk about creating a country on land the French stole from the First Nations.

Unionist

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

It is really nice you talk about creating a country on land the French stole from the First Nations.

I'm not talking about creating a country. I don't advocate or believe in Québec separating from Canada (though it's not an issue of fundamental principle for me one way or another). It's a gang of right-wing provocateur pundits and media that are trying to undermine the NDP and Layton by asking them hypothetical questions.

My suggested answer to those questions is simple: All decisions relating to the exercise of sovereignty of a nation belong to that nation itself, and no one else.

You can apply that answer to the Québec nation. You can, of course, also apply it to First Nations. It's an inalienable principle.

I find it interesting, however, that you consider Québec sovereignty to be somehow contradictory to the sovereignty of First Nations. I'd prefer to hear from the First Nations on that issue, if you don't mind.

 

KenS

Unionist wrote:

and I also agree with your statement of the risks involved in the way he is answering the questions. No wonder Peggy Nash is uncomfortable. They had better sort this one out fast - and I insist that it's an easy fix, unless they're afraid that anti-Québec chauvinism is so strong in their base elsewhere that they have to continue skating on thin ice.

My guess was that Peggy Nash was demurring because the Caucus has not actually worked out how they want to handle this.

Jack Layton does not have the option to not speak to it, though I doubt he is reluctant. Based on what he has said so far, I think he should be more reluctant.

The potential backlash for Western supporters is definitely there. But I dont think it is anywhere near close to the surface right now. I'm pretty usre that sticking to the general principles of the Sherbrooke Declaration will suffice for at least some time- that people will in the main ignore Layton being baited on the question, and even ignore what is going to look fairly evasive to the more observant folks.

Since I dont think there is any compelling incentive for pandering, I have to admitt that I'm puzzled by Layton going places he doesnt have to go.

NicHull

Stockholm wrote:

PS: Lisee is a hard core separatist who loves the idea of creating a national unity crisis and of creating division among the federalist parties etc...but I actually don't think you will see any H of C motions on the Clarity Act. As much as Harper would love to try to embarrass the NDP - he also knows that doing something like that would be a major provocation to Quebec and would reinforce Quebecers hatred of Harper. Rae wouldn't be crazy about it either - he actually opposed the Clarity Act back in the late 90s and given that the Liberals still hope to becoem a factor again in Quebec - the last thing they need is to start waving a red flag at Quebec just to score a cheap shot at the NDP.

I like this comment in response to Lisee's:

“Une main ouverte est préférable à un poing fermé si l’on veut que ce pays fonctionne. Qui donc favorise le plus la souveraineté du Québec ? Est-ce ceux qui font preuve d’ouverture et de souplesse dans le fonctionnement du fédéralisme ou bien ceux, comme les récents commentateurs, qui veulent imposer la vision d’un fédéralisme crispé et monolithique ? Poser la question c’est y répondre. Les récents commentaires du ROC favorisent davantage la division du pays que la position actuelle du NPD qui vise un Canada qui inclut le Québec.”

Basically, who's more in favour of separation? The current fixation on the Clarity Act or the NDP's flexibily and openess with the goal of a Quebec inside Canada?

Stockholm

Where is he going that he doesn't have to go? Whether you like it or not - the Sherbrooke Declaration has been party policy for quite a few years and if the media wants to ask questions about it - Layton has little choice but to answer.

KenS

Thats disingenuous Stock.

There is plenty in the SD for Layton to stay within it.

And this week Layton brought up the Supreme Court decision himself, not the media.

He doesnt have to go far. At least not for quite a while. And the more Jack says, the more his multiple flip flops on the Clarity Act are going to come up.

I'm sure he will have to go there eventually. But inviting it when we all know that how to deal with this cannot possibly have been all sewn up withing Caucus?...

Stockholm

I don't think he had the option of saying less with the way he was getting baited by the Quebec media etc...

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Once again, is this a burning issue that people in Quebec are dying to discuss, or is this being brought up by the chattering classes on both sides of the sovereignty issue to distract everyone from more important things?

 

It is being brought up by Liberal elites and their media handmaidens who believe that provoking a constitutional crisis is the surefire way to rebuild their discredited party.

KenS

Jack Layton could easily have expanded on what he said without bringing in the Supreme Court case. There are plenty of substantive principles to expand into or elaborate on.