The Sherbrooke Declaration and the NDP.

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KenS
The Sherbrooke Declaration and the NDP.

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KenS

The MSM has begun agitating that the NDP is ignoring how the Sherbrooke Declaration fundamentally contradicts the Clarity Act.

The MSM blows like the wind. But it has been suggested here that the new Leader, if not the NDP earlier, is going to face an assault that is going to create serious challenges for it in the ROC among our supporter universe.

There is a running discussion across multiple threads about whether or not the SD does in fact essentailly contradict the Clarity Act, but that has got bogged down in textual exigesis.

So lets cut through all that and speak to common perceptions among our supporter universe about what the Sherbrooke Declaration and the Clarity Act are about. What are those perceptions?

This basic question is addressed particularly, bit not exclusively, to activists in Quebec.

 

Unionist

Of course, the first problem you'll encounter is: "What's the Sherbrooke Declaration??"

The NDP has never even seen fit to link to it. It's as if it's Pierre Ducasse's personal property (his site is the only one where I've seen it in English), plus a few of the newer MPs who have reproduced it on their own sites (Hoang Mai, Marie-Claude Morin...) in French.

 

 

 

KenS

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. When the government of Quebec announces a referendum question, the government of Canada will name the figure which constitutes 'clear majority'. If the result does not clear that bar, the federal government will not recognise the decision.

* Quebec has to satisfy the federal government that the referendum question is sufficiently clear. If it does not deem it to be, the referendum will not be recognised and there will be no negotiations.

 

The essential and parallel elements of the NDP's Sherbrooke Declaration are equally simple:

* The government of Canada will recognise a simple majority.

* The government of Canada will recognise the wording of the referendum question. It is not for the federal government to dtermine the clarity of the wording.

Unionist

Ken, sorry, but why are you leaving out the most important element (in my mind anyway)? The Sherbrooke Declaration says:

Quote:
"The NDP recognizes Québec's right to self-determination, which implies the right of the people of Québec to decide freely its own political and Constitutional future. This right can be expressed in various ways and can go as far as achieving sovereignty."

The Clarity Act says nothing of the sort - it talks about what suffices to trigger negotiations - it in no way guarantees that the will of the people, even if they vote 100% in favour, will prevail. That's the key difference. The rest is details.

What do NDP activists/supporters think about the passage quoted above?

 

 

KenS

I left that out for two reasons.

Primarily, because of the need to focus on broadly held understandings that people act on whether or not they have read the SD and CA.

Secondly, becaue self-determination is a principle set out. However important a principle, it does not have direct operative 'this is what the government of Canad will / will not do' that directly goes with it.... as with the nub questions of WHO decides about 'sufficient majority' and 'clear question'. And as we see in the other thread, talking about principles this quickly leads to getting bogged down in textual exegesis. As we have seen, a case can be made that the Clarity Act makes similar promises about principles, and there is no end to that discussion. Not so with WHO will have the power to decide what will or will not be recognized by the government of Canada.

Unionist

Who has the final say if Québec can declare independence - whether the government of Canada will recognize it or not - that's what matters in Québec. To reduce that to discussions about the clarity of the question or the sufficiency of the percentage is to fall right into the frame of the Clarity Act. No one in Québec cares about recognition by Ottawa of the results of a referendum (although they wouldn't mind using it as bargaining power when the time comes). So you can continue with your survey of NDP supporters' impressions if you like, as long as you realize that you're framing the discussion in a way which is entirely irrelevant to Quebecers.

 

KenS

I dont disagree with you Unionist.

We have different ways of approaching the question. Both of us have had lots to say on this. Lets see what others might want to say.

KenS

Interesting point in its own right Unionist.

But the SD still has a circulation, and people act according to popular understandings of what it is.

When it comes down to it, despite there being a freely available Clarity Act text, it isnt any different: people act according to poular undertsandings of it.

And by 'popular understanding' I seamlessly include political junkies and the intelligentsia in general.

In the politics of Quebec and of Canada there are rough consensus understandings of the CA and the SD- and we all operate according to those.With the qualification of course that there are different popular understandings in Quebec and the ROC.

But I suggest that the popular understandings of what the Clarity Act IS are the same in both- the difference being that in Quebec the CA is offensive even to staunch federalists, while in the ROC it is broadly seen as a popular no-brainer.

[Hence the political dilemna coming to the NDP... although that is probably rushing ahead.]

 

KenS

How about this amendment:

Quote:

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. When the government of Quebec announces a referendum question, the government of Canada will name the figure which constitutes 'clear majority'. If the result does not clear that bar, the federal government will not recognise the decision.

* Quebec has to satisfy the federal government that the referendum question is sufficiently clear. If it does not deem it to be, the referendum will not be recognised and there will be no negotiations.

 

The essential and parallel elements of the NDP's Sherbrooke Declaration are equally simple:

*"The NDP recognizes Québec's right to self-determination, which implies the right of the people of Québec to decide freely its own political and Constitutional future."

* The government of Canada will recognise a simple majority.

* The government of Canada will recognise the wording of the referendum question. It is not for the federal government to determine the clarity of the wording.

The highlighted addition does not change the key implication I draw in post#4:

"... the popular understandings of what the Clarity Act IS are the same in Quebec and the ROC- the difference being that in Quebec the CA is offensive even to staunch federalists, while in the ROC it is broadly seen as a popular no-brainer."

And people have never heard of the Sherbrooke Declaration in the ROC. So what is in it is irrelevant to widely held understandings- so far.

Unionist

I'm fine with your amended version. Maybe we should link to the English version of the SD again so people can at least find it: [url=http://www.pierreducasse.ca/IMG/pdf/Declaration_Sherbrooke_ENG_V2.pdf]Text of Sherbrooke Declaration[/url].

 

KenS

bump

pumb

Unionist

***pmub***

KenS

Oops.

And I even checked to see if I got it right.

KenS

... you never know

Unionist

Shoulda used spelcheck.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

In a paper prepared for the Annual Meetings of the Canadian Political Science Association in 2004, Murray Cooke wrote:

Travelling without a roadmap, the constitutional debates of the 80s and 90s proved to be a veritable minefield for the NDP. Through three rounds of mega-constitutional debate (1980-82, 1987-1990, 1991-1992), the federal party leadership supported the constitutional priorities of the federal government of the day, only to be torn by disagreements from within.

This paper will argue that the NDP’s division, lack of direction and confusion over constitution issues can be traced back to longstanding weaknesses in the party’s social democratic theory and strategy. First of all, the CCF-NDP embraced rather than challenged the parameters and institutions of liberal democracy. The CCF-NDP has viewed its social democratic mission as extending democracy to the social and economic sphere. The party has rarely questioned the nature of Canada’s political democracy or its existing political institutions. This has meant that the CCF-NDP has never had a constitutional agenda of its own.

Wilf Day

Since the babble relaunch has lost us so many old threads, I'll use this one to post my update on the NDP's new Quebec MPs:

Were most of the NDP’s new 58 Quebec MPs elected in 2011 “poteaux?” (Token candidates, or “fence posts” as they are called in Quebec?)

At the hugely attended remembrance yesterday for the late Patty Park, I ran into a respected NDP elder statesman, normally very knowledgeable, who had bought that media myth.

Other than Mulcair, those 58 were (with their ages on election day):

Nine Stars (of which four were previous candidates)

15 more previous candidates (of whom five are now in shadow cabinet)

11 Credible new candidates now in Shadow Cabinet

18 more credible new candidates

5 Talented “poteaux”(one of whom is now in Shadow Cabinet)

Brachina

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1279317--new-democrats...

Silliness from the Star, they equate opposing the clarity act with opposing federalism.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters/article/1280715--ndp-s-quebec-sta...

Here's a reality check from a letter.

New Rule if you can't explain how you'll realistically enforce Quebec staying in Canada if we lose a referundum, then you can't criticize the NDP for facing reality aka the Sherbrook Declaration.

I don't know call me crazy, but maybe federalism should be focused on reducing the thirst for seperatism by building a better Canada and respecting Quebec culture.

I mean did the star figure out that the Sherbrook Declaration is in part why the NDP is the official opposition and that Mulcair might know more about fighting for federalism for decades on the front lones then they do.

lagatta

Not quite the same topic, but related (and I see no other thread on this matter), the NDP Québec delegation has stepped back on the idea thrown about of launching a Québec wing of the party.

That is a relief; the last thing we need here is more division and infighting on the left.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/11/03/montreal-ndp-par...

The CBC story headlines "division", in La Presse, the "recul" on the idea of floating a Québec wing was the central point. In practice, I know several people who have worked for both NDP and QS campaigns. Some are federalist, some indépendantiste, most are more interested in social issues.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Lagatta, it was discussed here. And I wrote back then:

September 5, 2012 - 6:16pm #26

P&P tonight spoke to someone at the NDP caucus who said the provincial NDP in Quebec is off for now because of the minority government situation - the NDP doesn't have anything ready if there's another election so soon after yesterday's. And I think that person said there will be consultation with the membership before proceeding.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

*bump*