Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quebec Irony Du Jour

Jack Layton has been getting heaps of flak because his party has taken contradictory positions about Quebec secession.  The Clarity Act says that the federal Parliament would have a say on whether a question is clear enough to count and whether the outcome is clear enough to count, and then a negotiation would ensue.  This is based on a Supreme Court decision.  The Quebec sovereigntist position (and the position of other folks pandering to the nationalists) is that any referendum with a vote of fifty percent plus one is good enough.  I have ranted enough about this before--that 50% plus one is a lousy standard.

The fun point is this: Layton's party, the New Democratic Party [NDP], has more than half of its seats in .... Quebec.  So, yes, the pandering may have worked, but now what?  If there were a referendum and the 50% plus one rule played out, then Layton would find himself with less than half a party.  Or he could try to become a leader in newly independent Quebec, not that he would win or anything.  The irony is that his support of 50% plus one is suicidal politically in the extreme--if such a situation were to arise.

But, of course, if there were a referendum, I would count on the NDP supporting implementation of the Clarity Act--for its own survival, not out of principle.  Not that it matters much really, since the Conservatives a majority in the Parliament where fifty percent plus one is also the rule.*
* I think--I have no real understanding of the Canadian constitution. 
Still, the idea that the NDP's fate would be held hostage by a Quebec separatist effort is actually quite amusing, as long as we do not get close to it in reality.  

1 comment:

Tony Kondaks said...

The NDP's support of 50% plus one is one thing.

Another question is whether the NDP also supports the right to a Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Quebec. In addition to its 50% plus one vote policy, the NDP's "Sherbrooke Declaration" policy paper declares that it "recognizes Quebec's right to self-determination, which implies the right of the people of Quebec 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."

Even more significantly, the paper goes on to declare that "... the NDP rejects also any use of -- or threat of -- force against Quebec at any stage."

I can only conclude that such policies constitute clear and unambiguous support by the NDP for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence by Quebec in the event of a 50% plus one vote.

The last time a federal policy couldn't deliver the constitutional goods -- Brian Mulroney's Conservative Party with Meech Lake -- it was interpreted by the Quebec people as a great humiliation perpetrated against them by English Canada. And we all know how that ended: the 1995 referendum, coming within a percentage point of a winning "Yes" vote.

Will Mr. Layton's opening of the Pandora's Box of constitutional promises reap the same results this time around?