I herewith, in agreement with Robert Libman, the Member of the National Assembly
for D’Arcy McGee and Leader of the Equality Party, express my formal
disagreement with the report submitted by the Commission on the Political and
Constitutional Future of Quebec to the National Assembly. We believe that the
tone and underlying premises of the report not only diminish the great
achievements that Quebec has experienced while an integral part of Canada but
its recommendations does not reflect the best interests of Quebec’s citizens.
Given the importance of any consideration of the constitutional and political
future of Quebec, the factual authenticity of witnesses’ testimony and the
credibility attributed by the Commission members to testimony and all
information and evidence presented before them is of the utmost importance. It
is our conviction that much of the information, testimony, and evidence chosen
to appear in, and to guide this report, is non-factual and based upon “myths”.
Knowledge is the basis of action. Successful action -- and achievement --
depends upon proper, factual, and complete knowledge. To plan for the
constitutional and political future of Quebec based upon improper and incomplete
knowledge will inevitably lead Quebec and its people to regretful circumstances.
This is not a methodology that we choose to subscribe to.
We believe that three false perceptions guided the Commission to arrive at the
recommendations that it did:
I) The false belief that Quebec was left out of and insulted by the 1982
patriation of the constitution.
At the time, a party whose raison d’etre was the dissolution of the Canadian
federation was in power in Quebec: the Parti Québécois. Not under any
circumstances would Quebec have signed the Constitution Act, 1982. Furthermore,
public opinion polls at the time demonstrated a strong preponderance on the part
of the Quebec people to support the patriation. As well, a majority of Quebec’s
elected representatives, in the federal and provincial governments, either
supported the Accord by votes in their respective legislative bodies or refused
to vote in the affirmative on motions condemning the Accord.
Ii) The false belief that the failure of the 1987 Meech Lake Constitutional
Accord represented the rejection of Quebec by the rest of Canada.
The primary reason for the failure of this Accord were the actions of the Quebec
Government in December 1988 when it passed into law Bill 178, which officially
suspended freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination guarantees found
in the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights. This was done in direct
opposition to unanimous decisions by the Quebec Court of Appeal, the Supreme
Court of Canada and the original decision of the Quebec Superior Court. The
passage of Bill 178 signaled to other provincial legislatures and the people of
Canada the potential of misuse inherent in the “distinct society” clause of the
Accord, which would have influenced the interpretation of the entire
constitution of Canada, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Quebec
Government’s refusal to exempt the Charter from the effects of the “distinct
Society” clause was a sign of bad faith.
Iii) The false belief that the federal system and minorities threaten the
flourishing and survival of the French language and culture in Quebec. All
evidence demonstrates the contrary.
Furthermore, the final report does not take into consideration the legitimate
needs and aspirations of Quebec’s minority Anglophone population nor its
cultural communities nor its native communities; nor does it address the
frustrations of Francophone outside Quebec. One wonders whether Quebec’s
minority groups should have even bothered to submit briefs to the Commission in
the first place had they known that their concerns would be ignored.
Here, therefore, are specific recommendations:
1) Recognition of the right of Anglophone and cultural communities to control
and administer their own health and social services, as well as their
educational institutions, and that all guarantees of these rights that currently
exist in the constitution be safeguarded.
2) To make as a priority of the political agenda of Quebec the redress of
aboriginal problems, treaty claims, and territorial claims.
3) To promote the objective of integration of cultural communities in all
sectors of society, and to condemn each sign of discrimination.
4) To make as a priority of the political agenda of Quebec the support of
Francophone outside of Quebec and to cease the practice of judicial
interventions on the part of the Attorney-General of Quebec against Francophone
minorities in cases involving minority rights in other provinces.
5) Repeal of the “notwithstanding” clauses of the Quebec and Canadian Charters
6) Constitutional entrenchment of English and French linguistic school boards.
7) constitutional entrenchment of the right of all Quebec residents to freely
choose the language of instruction for their children from the two official
languages of Canada.
8) Either the repeal of section 59 of the Constitution or the opting into, by
the legislature of Quebec, section 23(1)(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms, pursuant to section 59 of the Constitution.
9) Constitutional entrenchment of both English and French as the official
languages of Quebec