Harper government asks court to deny Québec's right to self-determination

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Unionist
Harper government asks court to deny Québec's right to self-determination

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Unionist

In 2000, in the wake of the Clarity Act, the Québec National Assembly adopted Bill 99. Essentially, it says that the Québec people alone will determine the means by which decisions on sovereignty will be made - with no outside interference. The Clarity Act, of course, essentially gave the federal Parliament (and courts) a potential veto power on issues like "clear majority", "clear question", etc.

The defunct Equality Party challenged Bill 99 in court. It has taken 13 years, but it's now going to trial in Québec Superior Court. And Harper has decided to intervene against Bill 99.

There's lots of detail, and now some court documents, [url=http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/10/18/exclusive-stephen-harpers-legal-chall....

 

socialdemocrati...

I grew up as an admirer of the French-Canadian culture, and I remember being a little hurt that Quebeckers would even want to secede. But I think the part that offends me the most about all of this is that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have said "fuck it, we can't win Quebeckers' hearts and minds, so let's just make it legally impossible for them to leave." Which is incredibly stupid. For one, it just fans the flames of outrage at the Federal government and galvanizes the separatist movement, which is even more stupid considering that the appetite for separatism has *otherwise* been shrinking. And for two, in the hideously unlikely chance that there's a successful referendum on separatism (which would probably be because the federal government continues a revolving door of corruption mixed with lurches to the right) then what's the Federal government going to do? Start arresting the QNA? Dispatching military troops? The issue of separatism can't be fixed in a courtroom with a bunch of overpriced lawyers. It's a political question, and the decent human thing to say is "everyone has the right to leave when they want to, but we're trying in earnest to make you want to stay."

autoworker autoworker's picture

2014: Federal health and equalization transfers will be up for renegotiation, and, now, this. Synchronicity?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

This, again???

Stockholm

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

 It's a political question, and the decent human thing to say is "everyone has the right to leave when they want to, but we're trying in earnest to make you want to stay."

I agree, but hopw do we know what constitutes "wanting to leave"...a majority PQ government (elected by 35% of the people) could pose a referendum question that says "Is the sky blue?" and say that if a majority votes Yes, they will consider it a mandate to declare unilateral independence. I think the simplest solution is that pass a law stating that the only acceptable wording for any referendum question is to essentially substitute the word "Scotland" with "Quebec" and use the exact question that the Alex Salmond and David Cameron agreed to for the Scottish independence referendum - "Should Quebec be an independent country?" and if 50% plus 1 of Quebecers vote YES, then away we go...and let the Republic of Quebec take its chances on negotiating its own free trade agreement with Europe and the US etc...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Harper is really stirring up a lot of hornet's nests recently - this, CETA, dumping on First Nations in the Throne Speech*.... add your own examples.

 

*In my neck of the woods, this is what folks are pissed off about in the throne speech:
 
"Canada founded by “pioneers” who forged country “where none would have otherwise existed”

which conveniently forgets that First Nations had a sustainable economy before the settlers arrived.

lagatta

That is grotesque, Boom Boom. Insult added to injury.

socialdemocrati...

Ugh. Even as far as meaningless platitudes go, that's a really ugly one.

Brachina

If the Quebec government has decided to ignore the clairity what makes Harper think they will hive a shit if the courts rule against them. This is a waste of money.

jerrym

This is Harper being Harper playing to his base. He's kissing his Quebec City MPs' toehold goodbye. The first sign was the cheese giveaway in the European trade deal and this simply seals the deal because he figures it will rally his base to be tough on Quebec whatever the consequences for Quebec and Canada. From his perspective, Quebec leaving would guarantee the Cons are the national governing party indefinitely. 

Stockholm

Except that if Quebec really cared all that much about letting in a bit more cheese we would not be seeing Pauline Marois and the BQ both expressing total 100% unconditional support for CETA. What does Harper have to lose on that file?

Lens Solution

I don't think Quebec is in any danger of leaving at the moment, although of course things could change in a few years time.  Right now most Quebecers are focused on issues that matter to their families and support for separation is low, and of course look what happened to the BQ in 2011 when it was replaced by the NDP.

And it is my understanding that the Clarity Act tells the Federal government what the rules for separation are for what the Federal side may do, and that it does not tell the National Assembly that it can't hold a referendum or tell it what to do.

jerrym

The cheese issue is to not going to cost us Quebec but it could endanger the Quebec Con ridings. However, Harper doesn't care if he can do better with his base elsewhere because of the free trade deal. Riling Quebec over time on a number of issues, espeically the right to secede, won't cause him any loss of sleep and as an officially unilingual Canada following Quebec independence works for the Conservative party and his base. 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Does this stuff EVER stop! When is enough, enough?

Unionist

Arthur Cramer wrote:

Does this stuff EVER stop! When is enough, enough?

What are you referring to?

 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Unionist wrote:

Arthur Cramer wrote:

Does this stuff EVER stop! When is enough, enough?

What are you referring to?

 

All this anti-sepratist stuff that gets stirred up by the two old line parties purely for policial purposes. I think you knew that.

Unionist

Thx.

Unionist

I agree with you - it's just stirring the pot. If the NDP sticks to the Sherbrooke Declaration, they'll be ok.

 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Unionist wrote:
Thx.

I wasn't trying to be snarky; I really believed you knew what I meant. I am just sick of this constant attempt to stir up the pot in Quebec purely for political purposes. It isn't healthy for this nation, but both old line parties unabashedly play this card over and over. Then people get distracted by this shiny object and all hell brakes loose come election day. Tom will be accussed of being a panderer while Le Dauphin runs around as "Captain Canada", my dad saved Canada, I can too. You HAVE to vote for me. Why? I thougth his dad had already "saved" Canada. I don't know how you actually resolve this, if there is even anything to resolve. But I know one thing, if this is truly a persistent issue, then what wast ried in the past obviously didn't work, and its time for someone else to have a go.  Harper and Le Dauphin are shameless; for Le Dauphin, its about power. Harper its about changing Canada into Texas North. These guys are both snake-oil salesmen. That Canadians even consider these guys Prime Minissterial has led me to stop thinking we are any smarter then the Americans. We may in fact, be dumber!

Unionist

[url=http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/quebec/390442/reactions-souverainistes... 99 - The political class denounces the federal manoeuvre[/url]

1. PQ minister for inter-governmental affairs Alexandre Cloutier called it an "affront" - he will hold a news conference Sunday morning at the National Assembly.

2. Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard said that the future of Québec would always be decided by Quebecers.

3. Québec solidaire spokesperson Françoise David told Stephen Harper to mind his own business, that the right of Québec to determine its own political future was "inalienable".

4. CAQ leader François Legault condemned this "federal government intrusion in the democratic process in Québec".

5. Bloc leader Daniel Paillé called it a "vicious and totally unacceptable" attack.

6. The treasurer of the CSN (trade union federation), Pierre Patry, said this move proved that the unanimous motion in the House of Commons recognizing Québec as a nation was hypocritical.

7. The Harper government's spokesperson said they couldn't comment because the matter was before the courts.

8. Nothing yet from the federal NDP, Liberals, or Greens.

 

cco

Unionist wrote:

If the NDP sticks to the Sherbrooke Declaration, they'll be ok.

 


Given it's only possible to find the Declaration on Pierre Ducasse's site, and the only reference to it on ndp.ca (I searched) is a passing mention in the party's Bouchard-Taylor submission, I have my doubts.

Skinny Dipper

I do agree with socialdemocraticmiddle that the separation debate is a political question.  The reason is inspite of the Clarity Act and Bill 99. it will be the facts on the ground that matters. That sounds so Israeliish.  My point is that if a future Quebec government wanted to start exercising sovereignty, it would start with setting up border controls or checkpoints along the Quebec borders with Ontario and New Brunswick.  This would slow down the flow of people and goods to and from Quebec.  This would just be a start of exercising sovereignty.

Skinny Dipper

My advice to Tom Mulcair and the NDP would not to be promote the right of Quebec to separate with 50% support, but to promote that the NDP is the party that trusts Quebeckers the most.  It is the party that trusts Quebeckers to make the best choice by choosing Canada.  The NDP is the party that will best make Quebeckers feel at home in Canada.

When the other parties support some unspecified super-majority for Quebec to separate, they are saying that they don't trust Quebeckers to make the best choice.  The NDP does with its 50% + 1 vote majority requirement.

Stockholm

There may actually be method to Harper's madness on this file. Marois is supposedly about to call a Quebec election. The wants the whole election to revolve around persecuting Muslim women who wear head scarves. She thinks that most Quebecers agree with her that minorities should be persecuted and relenetlessly depicted as "the other".

It is possible that Marois could win just by appealing to xenophobia "front nationale style"...

The LAST thing Marois wants to have to talk about during the campaign is another referendum on Quebec independence - since the vast majority of Quebecers don't want to go through that nightmare again. By joining the challenge to Bill 99 and provoking the PQ etc... all of a sudden we are back to talking about future referenda and chaos and instability and we are back to reminding people that a vote for the PQ is not just a vote to show hatred of Muslims - its also a vote for a one way ticket to another expensive and divisive referendum. marois needs this like she needs a hole in her head.

Unionist

God, Stockholm, when it comes to colourful posts, you are still the master! Thank you for years of consistent posting about Québec! One of these days, by the simple operation of the law of averages, you are absolutely bound to get it right!

 

 

socialdemocrati...

One of my biggest fears for Canada is that Harper gives up on the idea of winning Quebec seats.

If Quebec were a separate country, the Conservatives would had have a majority since 2006, and would have a majority into the foreseeable future.

All you have to do is do the math. There are 60+ seats there, most of which are represented by other parties, let alone parties that are more progressive. The Conservatives have an incredibly uphill battle to winning representation in Quebec.

Why fight for those Quebec seats, when you can gain a majority just by eliminating Quebec altogether?

 

jerrym

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

One of my biggest fears for Canada is that Harper gives up on the idea of winning Quebec seats.

If Quebec were a separate country, the Conservatives would had have a majority since 2006, and would have a majority into the foreseeable future.

All you have to do is do the math. There are 60+ seats there, most of which are represented by other parties, let alone parties that are more progressive. The Conservatives have an incredibly uphill battle to winning representation in Quebec.

Why fight for those Quebec seats, when you can gain a majority just by eliminating Quebec altogether?

That was my point when I said 

Quote:
From his perspective, Quebec leaving would guarantee the Cons are the national governing party indefinitely.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

You are assuming that the other 9 provinces and 3 territories would stay together and still have our antiquated voting system. If Quebec separates neither of those, especially the second part is a given.  You may worry about the poltical stripe of the potential government but geography and concentration of populatlon in one province is a far more worrisome problem for the future.  Who would want to be in a FPTP country with no way to counter balance Ontario.

The secession of Quebec would cause a contsitutional crisis because you can't just rip out a significant part of our existing constitution and say we wil just carry on.

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

"The secession of Quebec would cause a contsitutional crisis because you can't just rip out a significant part of our existing constitution and say we wil just carry on."

True, but I wouldn't put it past those crazy Tories to be tempted to try it.

socialdemocrati...

kropotkin1951 wrote:

You are assuming that the other 9 provinces and 3 territories would stay together and still have our antiquated voting system. If Quebec separates neither of those, especially the second part is a given.  You may worry about the poltical stripe of the potential government but geography and concentration of populatlon in one province is a far more worrisome problem for the future.  Who would want to be in a FPTP country with no way to counter balance Ontario.

I can't fathom how you'd trigger voting reform under a permanent Conservative majority. They nearly sweep the prairies on a routine basis. So in a Canada without Quebec, a non-conservative party would need to win 2/3 of the remaining seats in order to secure a majority.

Unionist

I'm pulling for Harper to self-destruct (or rather, be destroyed) before Canada does.

 

Aristotleded24

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

You are assuming that the other 9 provinces and 3 territories would stay together and still have our antiquated voting system. If Quebec separates neither of those, especially the second part is a given.  You may worry about the poltical stripe of the potential government but geography and concentration of populatlon in one province is a far more worrisome problem for the future.  Who would want to be in a FPTP country with no way to counter balance Ontario.

I can't fathom how you'd trigger voting reform under a permanent Conservative majority. They nearly sweep the prairies on a routine basis. So in a Canada without Quebec, a non-conservative party would need to win 2/3 of the remaining seats in order to secure a majority.

What Krop was essentially saying is that if Quebec separated then the rest of Canada would shortly disintegrate.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

What Krop was essentially saying is that if Quebec separated then the rest of Canada would shortly disintegrate.

Indeed, if Quebec separated from Canada, I would support independence for Ontario, and a new, looser federation with Quebec.

Unionist

Rather than imagining new shapes of Canada in the event of Québec's departure, I think everyone would be well-advised to imagine ways of destroying the Harper regime. Just my 2 cents. Of course, rah rah partisanship might put a crimp in that.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Just remember, when you destroy Harper, Trudeau gets in. He may be better for us in the long run than Harper, but he has a long list of negatives, too,  such as support for Keystone XL....  Kiss

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Saw this while I was taking a break from babble, just saw it again on Facebook....

Why Justin Trudeau may be more dangerous than Harper

The key positions he’s taken thus far – supporting the sellout of our strategic energy resources to the Chinese Government, giving away our sovereignty through the Canada-China Trade deal, new pipelines to expand the Tar Sands – hardly vary from those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They just look and sound far more attractive coming from Canada’s prodigal son.

- snip -

If Bay Street and the energy sector see that Trudeau is prepared to fulfill the same key objectives as Harper, they will not think twice about swinging their support back to the Liberals. This latest statement on Keystone signals that Mr. Trudeau is truly open for business. For this reason, while backing Keystone may be unpopular with certain segments of the Canadian public, it could prove a shrewd political move in the long-run.

- snip -

Evidently, if Justin stands for anything, it’s selling out Canada’s strategic resources and exploiting the climate-destroying Tar Sands. Where his father tried and failed to build a made-in-Canada energy policy, the younger Trudeau is going in the opposite direction.

Even that, though, I suspect, is more a reflection of his willingness to shape-shift his policies into whatever form advisers tell him will track best politically.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

If 39% of the vote can give a government a majority then 50% + 1 is indisputably a majority.

 

Case closed.

And btw,how could Trudeau be any worse than Harper?....Fiscally they're on the same page,granted..But atleast Trudeau is not pushing a SoCon agenda....That in itself is more dangerous than Trudeau will ever be.Kiss 

Unionist

Exactly what does this anaemic excuse for analysis have to do with the topic of this thread?

I left the NDP at a time when they openly opposed Québec's right to self-determination. I have voted for them since they changed their stand (Sherbrooke Declaration). I don't think they care if they lose my vote or not. But I do know that if they play this wrong, they will condemn themselves to another 80 years in the political wilderness here. And articles about how Stephen Harper isn't all that bad? Won't cut it.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'll stick with the NDP. Yeah, they have their faults, but there has to be somebody in power, and it's time to give the NDP a turn and just see how they do. NDP in 2015!

socialdemocrati...

For the record, Harper hasn't pushed for a SoCon agenda since there's been a Reform Party. He's treated the pro-life, anti-gay faction in his party the same way that Liberals have treated theirs in the past: using them to win uptight finger-wagging voters, and then governing with as little change as possible.

I'm still looking to defeat Harper. But don't underestimate Conservative strategists. They ignored election laws and used robocalls. They stacked the senate and struck down the few progressive bills that got through the minority government situation. They hide many policy changes in vague "omnibus" bills, and they eliminated the census so that we can't measure the consequences of their actions. They changed funding for political parties in a way that benefits them. The lesson is that if they can't win a majority in Canada as it exists, they'll find a way to change it so that they can.

Everything they do in Quebec should be understood through that lens.

Unionist

Whoops:

[url=http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/10/21/tory_minister_denis_lebel_... minister Denis Lebel thinks Quebec’s legislation on secession rules is acceptable [/url]

Watch for Harper to ask the House to suspend Denis Lebel without pay for gross negligence.

And when media asked Maxime Bernier what he thought, he said: "What I am telling you is that, for now, I am keeping my opinion to myself.”

Very strange.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

CBC version (similar, but different):

Harper cabinet rift emerges over Quebec secession rules

Unionist

The National Assembly has just voted - unanimously - to condemn the federal government's intrusion, to reaffirm the 50%+1 principle, and to reaffirm the principle that only the National Assembly can set the conditions (i.e. the question) for any referendum.

The Liberals opposed Bill 99 when it was passed in 2000, but they explained today that they did that only to avoid reopening constitutional debates. Today they supported exactly what the Bill says, as did everyone else.

[url=http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Politique/2013/10/23/002-motion-que...

My opinion: Harper is trying to revive the BQ's fortunes to split the anti-Harper front. Not that it will gain him any seats in Québec - but just to cause trouble for the NDP. He has nothing to lose.

 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

"And btw,how could Trudeau be any worse than Harper?....Fiscally they're on the same page,granted..But atleast Trudeau is not pushing a SoCon agenda....That in itself is more dangerous than Trudeau will ever be"

 

Trudeau is worse because he'll convince people he's a progressive and doing this for everyone's own good. It sets the meme that neo-libearl  policies are "mainstream", because the old line parties support. He's worse. When you take away people's economic security, regarldess of who actually does it, nothing else really matters much.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Stephen Harper is the worst PM of my lifetime running the worst government of my lifetime.

I'll literally be doing cartwheels when he's gone.

wage zombie

Unionist wrote:

My opinion: Harper is trying to revive the BQ's fortunes to split the anti-Harper front. Not that it will gain him any seats in Québec - but just to cause trouble for the NDP. He has nothing to lose.

This seems to make sense to me.  Looks like the political weapons are coming out. 

socialdemocrati...

Yeah, if Harper can whip up enough resentment in Quebec against the federal government, then he can revive separatism as an issue. And the province of Quebec could become a two way or even three way split on the federalism issue, between the Liberals (belligerent federalism), the BQ (separatism), and the NDP (democratic federalism). That pretty much guarantees that the Conservatives don't do worse than a minority government.

The only party trying to calm the issue is the NDP.

JKR

Unionist wrote:
My opinion: Harper is trying to revive the BQ's fortunes to split the anti-Harper front. Not that it will gain him any seats in Québec - but just to cause trouble for the NDP. He has nothing to lose.

Great point. If the BQ were to get back to winning 50 seats in Quebec the NDP would likely be knocked back into third place and the Liberals would probably be limited to getting just minority governments at best.

cco

And while I'd love to believe it, Unionist, sometimes I think you give too much credit to a party led by Alliance Québec's former Legal Affairs director.

Unionist

cco wrote:
And while I'd love to believe it, Unionist, sometimes I think you give too much credit to a party led by Alliance Québec's former Legal Affairs director.

Hey, that's my MP you're talking about! Innocent

Seriously though, here's my story. I left the NDP (NDY actually) many years ago, for a couple reasons - mainly inner-party democracy (lack thereof), moving to the right, and (very important) refusing to recognize Québec's right to self-determination. They maintained that refusal until the 2006 convention adopted the Sherbrooke Declaration. During the leadership race (I attended the all-candidates meeting in Montréal), every single one of them gave more or less lip-service to Sherbrooke.

Do I think they "mean" it? Do I think they've even read it? Will they uphold it in the crunch?

I see my duty as criticizing them when they stray, and praising them when they take the right stand - even if it's only in words for now. Doing so gives us at least a slim chance that when the time comes, they may do as they say.

Boivin's is the only quote I have found during the current debate which is unequivocal. I want it here, on the internet, on Google, as one of many reminders to the NDP and everyone of what their ostensible policy is.

So yes. I give them credit for this. And some day, they will need to repay the debt.

ETA: Come to think of it, I'm going back to edit that post and increase the font size. Kiss

 

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