01 April 2013

William Johnson: Quebec’s so-called right to self-determination

Opinion: Quebec’s so-called right to self-determination

MONTREAL — The House of Commons is debating a Bloc Québécois motion to abrogate the Clarity Act, against the backdrop of the Parti Québécois continuing to seek “winning conditions” for another referendum. Under the circumstances, a disinformation campaign was to be expected.
Writing in Le Devoir last week, Université de Montréal law professor Daniel Turp — who served in Parliament as a Bloquiste and in the National Assembly as a Péquiste — upholds Quebec’s right to secede unilaterally, despite the contrary conclusion of the Supreme Court of Canada.
He claims that “the adoption in 1977 of the Loi sur la consultation populaire remains the fundamental basis for the collective right of the Québécois nation to enact its political and constitutional future.” In fact, the 1977 white paper that preceded and explained that bill said exactly the opposite: “The referendums that will be held under the law that the government intends to present would have a consultative character. Indeed, under the present constitution, it is impossible to confer a direct legislative power to a referendum process, because that would go against the powers and functions that are reserved for the lieutenant-governor. This means that, to give legal effect to a referendum, it would be necessary to make use of the processes already available to amend laws, whether these be constitutional in nature or ordinary.”

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