29 September 2015

William Johnson: Lysiane Gagnon stands as witness to Quebec's two referendums

Gagnon also denounced those who insisted that secession must abide by the Constitution. She said they “caused a debate that is essentially political to be diverted to the sterile ground of abstract legality.” In her last column before the 1995 referendum, she advised: “Both options are equally honourable.”

“Je ne me souviens pas” might be Canada’s motto. Thomas Mulcair repeats that, for the 1980 and 1995 referendums, 50 per cent plus one for Oui was the threshold for Quebec’s secession. “Those were the rules in 1980 and 1995,” he said in Friday’s debate. False, but it’s still widely believed by many Quebecers, including some people who should know better ...


Her 52-page essay, followed by a collection of her columns from the 1995 referendum cycle, demonstrates that Quebec is caught in a cultural and political bind. Its intelligentsia largely subscribes to Quebec’s independence, but most Québécois, while easily roused to fury at perceived contempt from les Anglais, remain attached to Canada ...

Whatever was said by some Quebec politicians, the law governing both referendums set no standard for a victory. The white paper announcing that law repudiated any such standard. The impact of a referendum, it said, was “the political value of the referendum process.” Because a referendum had no executive effect on laws or the Constitution, it was pointless to specify a threshold of victory: “This consultative character of referendums means it would serve no purpose to include in the law special clauses with respect to the majority required or to the required level of participation.”

23 September 2015

William Johnson: Statesmanship at last

Statesmanship at last


 ... the news filtered out that the federal government had, Wednesday, intervened in a court challenge launched by private citizens against Bill 99, passed by former premier Lucien Bouchard, decreeing that Quebec can secede at will, its present territory intact, with just 50 per cent of the votes plus one, in a referendum where Quebec alone sets the rules. 
As Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells revealed, the federal government argues in a submission to Quebec Superior Court that Bill 99 is unconstitutional. As the news spread, all of Quebec’s political party leaders circled the wagons, indignantly defending the indefensible ... 
As premier, Charest defended Bill 99 before Quebec Superior Court when it was challenged by former Equality Party leader Keith Henderson, McGill law professor Stephen Scott and lawyer Brent Tyler. Bill 99 manifestly repudiated the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling, in the secession reference, that Quebec could only secede legally via an amendment to the Constitution, itself requiring the consent of Parliament and at least seven provinces ...


Jeffrey Simpson re: Thomas Mulcair's Quebec nationalism questionable

 
Similarly, Mr. Mulcair has driven the party into a very Quebec nationalistic position on language, whereby Quebec's Bill 101 would take precedence over the Official Languages Act for federal institutions in Quebec. This position, similar to the one taken by the Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois, will undoubtedly please Quebec secessionists and strong nationalists, but it does not jibe with the NDP's stated policy of support for the Official Languages Act.
 
 

William Johnson: Independence referendum? Scotland has it right

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/independence-referendum-scotland-has-it-right/article4898591/

The referendum on independence to be held by Scotland in 2014 differs dramatically from the two referendums Quebec held in 1980 and 1995. The issue in Scotland will be clear: independence. Equally clear will be the referendum question, just 10 words long: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

In 1980, Quebec asked a question that ran to 109 words, but still left the outcome uncertain and confused. The question began: “The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations.” Who could object to such an agreement? There followed many words on sovereignty and association. Then the question concluded on this promise: “No change in political status resulting from these negotiations will be effected without approval by the people through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?”
 
The 1995 referendum question would be shorter – 43 words, but still tendentious. It stressed “partnership” and “agreement,” not secession or independence: “Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?”

Bloc makes life awkward for NDP

http://www.macleans.ca/general/bloc-plans-to-provoke-clarity-act-debate/

The Bloc Quebecois is trying to put its New Democratic Party rivals on the hot seat.
The Bloc, which was decimated by the NDP in Quebec in the last federal election, apparently plans to use an attack on the Clarity Act to create tensions within the NDP.
Bloc Leader Daniel Paille won't say what's in the proposed legislation, which will be tabled Friday, but insists Ottawa has no business making any decisions affecting Quebec's future.


 
 

Tim Hortons'‏ bilingual service. Or not.

Hello ...
Thank you for your email inquiry.
Although a fair number of our Québec restaurants do already have bilingual menuboards, the ultimate decision to have both languages represented is left to the discretion of each individual Franchise Owner. This would explain why you may be visiting some locations that only have French menu boards. Having said this, it is our strong recommendation to all the QC restaurants that they do post bilingual menuboards in accordance with the standards being enforced by the "Office de la langue française".
In closing, I will forward your comments that you feel we should follow Second Cup's lead and make it a mandatory policy in all our QC restaurants. Unfortunately, we would not be able to confirm whether this policy will ever be adopted.

Have a great day!
The TDL Group Corp.
Guest Services Representative
Toll Free: 1-888-601-1616
www.timhortons.com

Mulcair Grilled On Quebec Secession Days Before French Debate

Mulcair Grilled On Quebec Secession Days Before French Debate


The NDP's policy on Quebec secession is "in absolute defiance of the terms of the Constitution of Canada," said committee member Stephen Scott, a retired constitutional law professor.

OTTAWA — The man who launched a legal challenge to Quebec's law on
unilateral secession is posing some questions for Tom Mulcair that could
prove awkward for the NDP leader.

Keith Henderson wants to know
if an NDP government would continue to intervene in support of his court
challenge to Bill 99, a 1999 provincial law which asserts that
Quebecers alone have the right to democratically determine their own
future, without interference from the rest of Canada.

He's also
asking Mulcair to clarify if he believes aboriginal people and other
"loyal Canadians" could separate from Quebec if the province were to
secede from Canada and whether he believes an independent Quebec would
have to pay for its share of the federal debt and compensation for
federal assets in the province.

NDP "Unity" Act

The NDP's Unity Act, a private member's bill drafted by the party, spells out that a bare majority of 50% plus one vote would be sufficient to trigger negotiations on Quebec’s secession, provided that the referendum question was clear and that there were no “determinative irregularities” in the vote and in the 'spending limits'.
The bill says that the Quebec National Assembly — by definition, directed by a Parti Québécois government — would have the right to table the question. 
The government of Canada would be able to object, but would have to take those objections to the Quebec Court of Appeal.
The Clarity Act, based on a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada,  specifies that the federal government will not negotiate secession unless a clear majority votes Yes on a clear referendum question. 
It does not specify what constitutes a clear majority, allowing parliamentarians to take into account the eligible voter turnout rate, valid votes cast in favour of separation, voting irregularities, and other factors, before concluding whether the result is sufficiently unambiguous to warrant divorce talks.
SOURCES:


20 September 2015

Boilerplate Bilingual Signage Submission Letter

Dear Sir or Madam,

It is known that people are complaining about your disrespect for non-Francophone clientele, particularly at your XXX store in XXX Montreal as well as at your XXX store. Non-Francophones are being ignored and treated as second-class customers.

As you are aware, you have the legal right (according to the Quebec Charter of the French Language) to have English signage in your stores, as long as French is predominant.   You should respect the Charter and all your clientele as well. You have acquiesced to the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (and previously to the Office de la Langue Française) for close to 40 years; it is time for a change.

It would make good business sense to have your signage visible in both French and English.  Those who find bilingual signage an 'irritant' are hardline national-sovereignists, a great minority in Quebec.

You may also wish to tell your staff that they do not have to give the Anglophone/Allophone community a lesson in geography. We know we live in Quebec, so having some of your staff tell customers that <> is really not necessary nor welcome.

Respectfully yours,
XXX XXX
XXX, QC
 

Supreme Court sides with Quebec Catholic school on religious freedom

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/top-court-rules-on-catholic-schools-right-to-opt-out-of-quebecs-ethics-course/article23533643/

The decision Thursday handed a victory to Loyola High School, which went to court over a Quebec program that sought to teach ethics and world religions from a neutral standpoint. At the same time, the top court helped define some of the boundaries of Quebec’s goal of state secularism ...

Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey says Thursday’s ruling strikes a blow against “strident secularism” in Quebec.