Sovereignty-Association Achieved, Without a Referendum!

This is what Québec separatists have wanted since the beginning. René Lévesque understood that outright separation would be risky, so he opted for a much more palatable phrase that would have a much wider appeal. Something called sovereignty-association. It was a genial marketing ploy by the Premier. Hard core separatism appealed to only 20% of French Quebec at the time, but, the expression “sovereignty-association”, don’t forget the hyphen, would also appeal to softer leaning separatists called Nationalists, including some Liberal party supporters. The plan was for Québec to operate on its own, in effect, be a nation, separated from Canadian policy and politics, (here’s the hyphen), but enjoy the luxury of Canada’s currency, its transfer and equalization payments, its army, and more.

It has succeeded with Bill 96, and, without a referendum.

You could not dream up this deal!

The elder Pierre Trudeau refused to accept Quebec even as a ‘distinct society’. Suddenly his son, Justin, agrees Québec can now rewrite the 154-year-old document signed in 1867 by the Fathers of Confederation, which took years of intense debate. No, our current Prime Minister will not stand in the way, in fact he will take a knee to Québec and allow those changes without the provinces, without debate in the House of Commons, much less the Senate, a supposedly wise group who are supposed to give any new changes or legislation “a sober second thought”. Québec could not achieve this through 2 referendums (or is it referenda) but it may have now, through the wisely chosen timing of Premier Francois Legault.

The Québec Premier made his move just prior to a federal election call by a minority government leader, who absolutely needs Québec seats to improve his standings if he is ever to form a majority. Legault knows this, and knows that Justin Trudeau is a neophyte, who has an obsession for Quebec votes and an obsession for power. And at home, Legault is on top of the polls. He is the most popular Premier in Canada right now. (76% – Leger Marketing) No one wants to start a divisive debate with the popular premier. So his timing was perfect, if not brilliant. His choosing of Section 45 of the 1982 Constitution Act to alter the Canadian constitution seems to find agreement with politicians blinded by a hunger for votes.

But not all jurists will agree. You can bet constitutional lawyers will have a plethora of arguments, for and against. For example, what does it mean to give Quebecers “the right to form a nation”? What is a nation? Is it a sovereign state with its own laws and governance? If so, how can a Quebec nation exist within the nation of Canada?

Québec collects its own taxes, administers its own social programs, receives the largest share of Ottawa’s equalization programs (2019- 2020) as a ‘have-not province’. In general, Québec yearly receives the biggest share of federal transfer funds. Would that be Croix Rouge, as it is across Canada? Mais non, pas au Québec. It’s Héma Québec. We are the only NHL team that has a filter on the Habs head coach application. Only French speaking need apply.

It always seems to be the Québec way or the highway, and Quebec wins, all the time. So too with the Constitutional change.

And be careful of that “notwithstanding clause”, which threatens to take away decisions from judges, and give them to premiers.

I don’t know about you, but I was painfully disappointed when neither of the opposition leaders stood up for our Constitution. (except for Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould) I am not sure any of them, including Trudeau, even read Bill 96 before agreeing to it. That’s how obsessed these guys are for votes. The separatist Bloc is a given. And I frankly don’t expect much cerebral manoeuvring from the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. But Conservative Erin O’Toole is the one I anticipated would approach this issue more intelligently than with a knee jerk ‘yes’. Alas, that did not happen. Unfortunately, much like the rest of Canada, O’Toole does not seem to understand Québec’s DNA.

There are 1.1 million Quebecers who speak and want to preserve their English language and heritage. (Almost 100 thousand live in Laval-2016 Census). There are French Quebecers who are bilingual, because they want their children to learn and prosper in the international language of business. There are Quebecers of Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese, Russian decent who speak, and want their children to speak and prosper in English, as well as French, as well as in their first language. No, they are not bilingual. They are trilingual Mr. O’Toole (Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Singh). How can they exercise those rights under another nation?

The freedom in our Canadian Constitution, and those who defended it, have made all this possible, so far.

That’s What I’m Thinking.

Robert Vairo