As the man who crafted the Clarity Act which now governs the manner in which the government of Canada has to deal with the framing of a question for a referendum on the independence of Quebec put it, the law of the land cannot be wished away:
“I think they tried to be ambiguous to please their nationalist wing without repudiating the Clarity Act,” Liberal MP Stéphane Dion, who shepherded the Clarity Act through the legislative process when he was intergovernmental affairs minister under then prime minister Jean Chrétien, told the Star in a recent interview.
“They will try to please everyone as usual, but it’s the law of the land and no declaration — as ambiguous as it may be — of a politician may remove from Quebecers the right to stay in Canada
unless it is clearly decided to leave Canada,” said Dion — who, like Chrétien, had pushed for a law rather than a political declaration in response to the Supreme Court reference, because it could not be disregarded on a whim.
“A declaration of a politician that wants to please the nationalist wing of his or her party cannot change that,” said the former Liberal leader, who was re-elected in his Montreal riding earlier this month.
Given the clear conflict between the Official Opposition's written statement of its policies on the independence of Quebec, and the clear terms of the Clarity Act, it is time for the party's leader Jack Layton to live up to his claim that he and his party will fix the broken Parliament by being straight shooters who say what they believe and do what they say, to clarify the questions now swirling through Ottawa, Quebec, the media and the blogosphere.
Time to straighten things out, Jack: explain in clear terms exactly where the party stands, so that this issue can be put to bed.