Thomas Mulcair and Quebec


The NDP leader says he doesn’t expect another referendum and describes his approach to Quebec thusly.

“The NDP is a very strong federalist voice. We have always understood that you don’t just pay lip service to the differences. You work on them constructively,” Mulcair said, adding the surprising results of the 2011 federal election means there is a “pan-Canadian, federalist” party that holds the majority of seats in Quebec for the first time since the early 1990s.

Mulcair said that approach is recognized in the Sherbrooke Declaration, the policy paper that spells out the NDP position on asymmetrical federalism and what happens after a referendum on sovereignty. “It is a clear expression of the understanding that we can have asymmetrical federalism that takes into account the differences between the regions and the very specific differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada in terms of its civil law, its majority French language, its cultural differences, these are all things that can be worked on,” Mulcair said. “There is nothing divisive about that unless somebody wants to play politics with it and make it divisive. Where the NDP comes in, is we’re all about building bridges. We will let the other parties blow up those bridges,” Mulcair continued.

An anonymous NDP insider explains the situation to the Globe.

As one NDP strategist told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday, any defence by the NDP of PQ strategy will allow Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “attack Mr. Mulcair in English Canada for collaborating with separatists, while pointing to his [own] caucus of federalist Quebec MPs.”


Thomas Mulcair and Quebec

  1. My sense is that asymmetrical federalism is a non-starter in the Rest of Canada, if additional powers are only given to Quebec. For AF to have a hope of being made palatable in the RoC, any power given to Quebec must also be offered to the other provinces.

  2. Would have appreciated seeing a defence from Mulcair on why the NDP does not support the Clarity Act. It’s beyond me how anyone can think that 50%+1 is sufficient for a province to declare independence.

    • Does 50 per cent plus one specifically violate the vague terms of the clarity act and underlying supreme court decision, other than the (not outlandish) theory that the wording “clear” majority must mean more than 51%?

      • I believe the general consensus is that a “clear majority” does in fact mean, possibly among other things, more than a 50%+1 majority. Stephane Dion hits the nail on the head with this: ”If 50 per cent plus one is a clear majority, what is an unclear majority?”

        And this is without even going into the requirement for a clear question.

        • so not in the clarity act or the supreme court decision then, which in fact refused to define clear majority? (I’m not discounting the theory and it has some resonance, I just want to be clear from whence the authority is drawn).

          • In any event a referendum is a public consultation, that’s all. It is non-binding. Only a majority vote in parliament (QC or CA) can make it happen. If a PQ majority government decided to proclaim independence in the NA following a referendum with 50,0001 % yes to 49,9999 no, what country would recognize QC ? Would Ottawa cease to recognize QC residents as Canadian citizens ? The Clarity Act is a political hot potato in this country, but that 50,0001% vs 49,9999 would be a hot potato the world over.

          • Kinda, but one thing the clarity act and the supreme court do say is that a clear majority on a clear question creates some kind of obligation to try to negotiate sovereignty (recognition by other countries doesn’t necessarily come into play at that point, because that’s international law rather than specific Canadian stuff).

  3. Having the PQ win the election in Quebec is probably the worst possible outcome for Mulcair and the NDP. He will be forced to support PQ policy to shore up his base in Quebec, which will result in him being unpalatable to the RoC. The RoC won’t like any of the NDP’s “asymmetrical federalism” plans as they’re sure to be heavily biased in Quebec’s favour.

  4. “Thusly”? Oh, Mr. Wherry, please tell me you’re being ironic.