Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Quebec Election Shows Hypocrisy On Clarity Act

Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Andrew Coyne, among others, are wrong to suggest separatism was recently defeated by Quebec voters. Well they aren't just wrong, they're hypocritical.

Since the close defeat of separatism in the 1995 referendum, federalists have demanded a clear question for any public decision on Quebec sovereignty. Parliament even passed the Clarity Act, enshrining such a requirement into law.

Considering the need therefore of a clear question to decide whether Quebeckers want to stay in Canada or not, it is mind-blowing to see our country's politicians and pundits claim that the Parti Quebecois's election loss proved voters rejected sovereignty. Not only because there wasn't clarity in the question of separation, but because there wasn't even a question.

If such an extrapolation of a general election's results was valid then the converse would be too, and I don't think anyone would say Quebeckers would have clearly decided to separate if the PQ just got 41% of the vote.

Now many in Quebec don't support the Clarity Act, not just because it requires a clear referendum question but because it importantly stipulates that any vote to separate can only succeed with a clear majority. But if federalists want separatists to honour the Clarity Act, then federalists should honour it too. 

Our country's leaders were wrong to suggest the PQ's election loss was a clear rejection of separatism by Quebeckers just as separatists would be wrong to declare an election victory as a mandate to separate.

The only way Quebeckers can reject or accept sovereignty is by a referendum with a clear question, to suggest that this election sufficiently sufficed as that referendum contravenes the very laws federalists supposedly support.

If Prime Minister Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and others continue to claim the election results do mean Quebeckers rejected separatism, than the Clarity Act is worthless. At least that much is clear.

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