Quebec Apart: Bar Rises Court Rules Province Cannot Legally Secede without Agreement with the Rest of Canada

By Fred Langan, | The Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 1998 | Go to article overview

Quebec Apart: Bar Rises Court Rules Province Cannot Legally Secede without Agreement with the Rest of Canada


Fred Langan,, The Christian Science Monitor


In a ruling that toughens the task for Quebec's separatists, Canada's Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision yesterday that Quebec has no right to secede unilaterally from the federation.

Under the ruling, Quebec is allowed to secede, but it can do so only after agreement with the federal government and the other nine provinces. Separatists had claimed Quebec can secede if the province votes to do so in a referendum.

"On the face of it, it seems to be a balanced judgment," says Ghislain Otis, a law professor at Laval University in Quebec City. "The court spelled out under what conditions {secession} could actually take place." Because the ruling was balanced, he adds, it could be difficult for the Quebec government to use it as an election issue, though that may well happen.

Quebec separatists are expected to use the decision to bolster their cause of forming an independent country. Constitutional lawyers in Montreal say it is the first time a court in a Western democracy has ruled on the right to secession.

Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard may use the decision to call an early election in hopes of bolstering chances for a referendum.

Quebec's government was studying the 78-page decision before making any announcement.

Separatists in Quebec have gambled twice before that public opinion was in favor of independence, but they lost both times. The initial defeat came in 1980, four years after the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) was first elected under Premier Rene Levesque and separation became an issue. The federalist side won 60 per cent of the vote.

The referendum of October 1995 was a different story. It was almost a tie, with the federalists winning by about 55,000 votes.

Court prodded to act

Following that close call, a federalist lawyer from Quebec City, Guy Bertrand, began a personal campaign in the courts, seeking a ruling that Quebec did not have the legal right to separate from Canada. The federal government was forced by that move to seek the advice of the nine-member Supreme Court on the constitutional issue.

After the ruling, Mr. Bertrand said that "it refutes what Quebec nationalists have been saying for 30 years," that Quebeckers are an oppressed, colonial minority. "The court says that you cannot ignore the Constitution."

The court's decision was supposed to bring clarity to the issue. "This is not a declaration about what Quebec can do, but how Quebec can do it," says Bruce Ryder, a professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Quebec Apart: Bar Rises Court Rules Province Cannot Legally Secede without Agreement with the Rest of Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.