09 April 2016

William Johnson: Quebec’s constitutional powers, real and imagined

William Johnson: Quebec’s constitutional powers, real and imagined | National Post

Quebec’s entire political class disgraced itself ... when the province’s National Assembly unanimously passed a motion that would be spurned as an absurdity in just about every mature democracy. Even Philippe Couillard’s nominally federalist Liberal members supported a motion that condemned the federal government for defending Canada’s constitutional order against a unilateral secession by Quebec.

The motion stated: “[Quebec’s] National Assembly condemns the intrusion of the Government of Canada into Quebec’s democracy by its determination to have struck down the challenged articles of the Act Respecting the Exercise of the Fundamental Rights and Prerogatives of the Québec People and the Québec State. The National Assembly demands that the Government of Canada abstain from intervening and challenging the Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogatives of the Québec people and the Québec State.”

The Act in question is Premier Lucien Bouchard’s Bill 99, which was passed in 2000 to counter the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in the secession reference, and the federal Clarity Act. The Court had insisted that a majority vote for secession, even a “clear answer” to a “clear question,” would not give Quebec a mandate to secede. Independence could be achieved legally only through an amendment to the Constitution of Canada with the Parliament of Canada and the provinces concurring ...

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