Friday, May 27, 2011

Time for clarity from Jack Layton on the Clarity Act

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:
Unclear Jack

“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.

1 comment :

  1. As an increasingly disillusioned Quebecker, this debate was going to happen whether NDP won all those seats in Quebec or the Bloc kept their seats, with a Harper majority.

    Layton simply is out of his element, unlike Duceppe. But if there is any referendum, or if the yes side wins, it certainly won't be Layton's fault. It will Be squarely on Harper and those who decided to remove his leash May 2. Those voters not only knew this kind of thing would and could happen, but probably wanted to instigate trouble.

    Ever read comment boards on Globe & Mail and the CBC from Conservatives, particularly from out west regarding Quebecers? We're sub-human to them. They forget we pay federal taxes and HST too. Or if they think we do pay them, they think we should pay them, but shut up and get down on our knees if we get scraps and crumbs of left overs after Harper has rewarded the West, or something.

    For example with the floods in Richelieu, they say we complain too much, while those in Slave Lake and Manitoba apparently, thanked the feds. Well, Slave Lake and Manitoba had the PM visit and federal aid was pledged. Richelieu got squat. Same with the Gaspesie floods last December.

    Just warms a Quebecer's heart.

    It's becoming increasingly clear as Canada has taken a sharp right turn, including so-called 'liberal' Toronto, even further right than the US, as we've seen today with Steve at the G8, does Quebec and its' progressive values really fit in Canada anymore? It's an important question to be asking.

    As for the Clarity Act, some parts of it I do agree with. I remember the referendum question when I voted in the 95 referendum, it was quite convoluted and can be confusing, particularly for those who didn't get far in their education and whose reading comprehension isn't that up to snuff. Polls afterward showed (I forget the exact numbers off hand), that somewhere around 20%- 30% who voted 'yes' didn't really understand the question. That's not democratic. Democracy for such an important question would be better served if the question was simple, and to the point.

    However, I'm ok with 50% + 1. Voter turn-out in the 95 referendum was at 94% and will be again in another such referendum.

    When Newfoundland voted to join Confederation, their vote to join was also razor thin, at a little over 53% if memory serves me. If Newfoundland's razor thin vote was enough to join confederation, why wouldn't such a razor thin vote be enough for Quebec to leave it?


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