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Majority and Minority Rights - Quebec

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1 Majority and Minority Rights - Quebec
CLN4U – Mr. Andrez

2 Introduction In a democracy, the majority rules.
Canada also has laws which guarantee the protection of minority rights. What happens when majority and minority rights clash in Canadian society? Why is it essential to balance majority and minority rights?

3 French- English Conflict
Francophone: in a bilingual country, a person whose principal language is French Anglophone: in a bilingual country, a person whose principal language is English By Confederation in 1867, the French were a minority in Canada, but there language was protected under s.93 of the Constitution Relationship between Francophones in Quebec and Anglophone Canadians has not always been harmonious; many conflicts have arisen throughout time over the protection of the French culture and language

4 The French-English Conflict
The Quiet Revolution ( ) The movement of Quebec’s social and political influence from rural-religious to urban-secular. French speaking Quebecois began to resist the English speaking economic and social dominance within Quebec, and began to assert their language and cultural rights through politics. The Canadian government under Pierre Trudeau introduced “official bilingualism”, guaranteeing federal government services in both languages through the Official Languages Act, 1969.

5 Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, 1960-1966:
Francophones wanted equal partnership with English in Canada, but a partnership where Quebec would determine its own role and fate, thereby ensuring the survival of the French culture and language

6 The Separatist movement
Many Quebecois were frustrated by the federal system of government, and wanted more political control over their own society. The desire for a politically independent Quebec gained support, but the degree of desired independence varied between full political independence (extreme) to a more integrated arrangement with the rest of Canada (moderate). The more moderate arrangement gained the most popularity under Rene’ Levesque’s plan for “Sovereignty Association” .

7 Sovereignty-Association:
concept put forth by the Parti Quebecois government whereby Quebec would become a sovereign jurisdiction in all areas of law making, but would maintain economic association with the rest of Canada (common currency) Exclusive power to make laws, levy taxes and establish foreign relations

8 Separatism During the 1960s Quebeckers increasingly questioned their province’s role within confederation Separatism meant different things to different groups of Quebeckers for some it meant total independence as a political state, for others it meant sovereignty-association in a limited partnership with Canada and others believed that federalism was the best system for Canada In 1968 the Parti Quebecois (PQ) was formed and with this the separatist movement gained strength By 1973, PQ was the official opposition in Quebec

9 Quebec Official Languages Act
In 1974 the Quebec Official Languages Act (Bill 22) was introduced which proclaimed French as the only official language in Quebec, for many Quebeckers Bill 22 fell short of requiring French to be the language of instruction and everyday use for all Quebec citizens

10 Bill 101 After 1976 provincial election, Bill 101 (the Charter of the French Language) was passed; French became the official language for most facets of public life (for example, under Bill 101, all companies in Quebec with 50 or more employees had to conduct business in French, companies were given 4 years to put this into action)

11 Bill 101 cont… One of the most controversial sections of Bill 101 prohibited the use of English on commercial and road signs for 3 reasons The use of other languages on signs would marginalize the French language in Quebec Immigrants to Quebec would recognize the predominantly French character of the province French would be preserved as Quebec’s official language

12 Bill 101 - This law was later challenged under the Charter at the Supreme Court (Ford v. Quebec Attorney General, 1988.) The S.C.C. struck down the controversial provisions of the Bill. The Quebec government has subsequently used the “notwithstanding clause” (s. 33) to over-ride the Charter for this issue. Bill 101 has been amended many times (for example now other languages can be on signs as long as French is the predominant language on the sign)

13 The Sovereignty Issue Between 1980 and 2003, the controversy over Quebec’s role in Canada did not decrease; there are 4 critical events that must be highlighted during these years The Parti-Quebecois viewed their election to the provincial government as a mandate to try to negotiate a “Sovereignty-Association” agreement with the rest of Canada.

14 The 1980 Referendum May 20, date for promised referendum on Quebec’s future in Canada Campaigned for sovereignty-association Nearly 60% voted NON to sovereignty-association

15 The 1995 Referendum 1994 Elections brought a new man in power of PQ, Jacques Parizeau. After Meech Lake and Charlottetown, the Quebec government held a referendum on October 30, 1995 which asked the question should Quebec separate from the rest of Canada. Federalists argued economic costs of separation; Aboriginals opposed separation because they were uncertain whether or not they would be able to remain part of Canada Result % voted NON Federal government’s response to this was trying to convince Quebeckers that life in separate Quebec would be difficult and costly

16 Federal Government Response
The federal government took action and referred  the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court had to decide whether: Under the Constitution of Canada, can Quebec secede from Canada unilaterally? Under International Law, can Quebec secede unilaterally? In the event of a conflict between domestic and international law on the right of Quebec to secede from Canada unilaterally, which one would take precedence over the other?

17 Supreme Court Decision
Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec had no unilateral right to secede without consulting the rest of Canada. However, the Supreme Court also stated: But “the right of other provinces and the federal government cannot deny the right of the government of Quebec to pursue secession, should a clear majority of the people of Quebec choose that goal.” Also. . . if the people of Quebec were to win a referendum “by a clear majority on a clear question, “then Canada has a “constitutional duty to negotiate.”

18 Aftermath of the S.C.C Decision
Court did not define what a “clear majority “was- merely stated, “It is for the political actors to determine what would constitute a clear majority on a clear question in the circumstances under which a future referendum vote may be taken”

19 The Clarity Act, 2000 Wanting to have a framework and process in place if Quebec (or any other province) sought to separate from Canada, Bill C-20 (the Clarity Act) was enacted December 13, 1999. This Act outlined the rules and conditions to be met before the Canadian government enter into negotiations for the secession of any Province It set out the principles and procedures that would require that any referendum question submitted to voters about succession be clear Established that a clear majority of a provinces population is needed for a province to secede

20 The Clarity Act, 2000 cont… If Quebec holds another referendum in the future regarding separation, no agreement will be negotiated without first establishing that the criteria for clarity have been met

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