Next April 17 will mark the 40and anniversary of the patriation of the Constitution. A little less than two years after promising Quebecers that he would renew federalism if they voted “no” in the referendum, Trudeau and the Queen proclaimed the entry into force of the Constitution Act of 1982, including of course the famous Rights.
With it, Trudeau betrayed the solemn promise he had made to Quebecers. Instead of a reform that would take into account their historical aspirations, which the Prime Minister had implied, the Constitution of 82 took away powers from Quebec, and this, in vital areas such as language and culture, not to mention the loss of a constitutional right of veto. Following this reform, federal judges working in Ottawa imposed Canadian bilingualism and multiculturalism on us. They have invalidated our identity laws on multiple occasions, first law 101 and, more recently, law 21.
Pierre Trudeau succeeded thanks to the complicity of the Supreme Court. As I demonstrated in my book The Battle of Londonat least two judges, including the Chief Justice, shared real-time information with the federal and UK governments. This constitutes a violation of the fundamental principle of separation of powers. The highest court had to rule on the constitutionality of the patriation and ruled that our consent was not necessary, which allowed Trudeau to isolate his own province, with the support of English Canada.
Recognize Quebec as a nation
Quebec is still suffering the disastrous consequences of repatriation. Several governments have tried to limit the negative impact in the past, without success. With Bill 96, the CAQ is attempting the same thing. Unilaterally, this legislation would force the recognition of Quebec as a nation in the Constitution.
This is a timid step in the right direction. The problem of the CAQ is that it does not have a balance of power to achieve its ends.
Let’s get inspired by… Newfoundland!
At the time of repatriation, several Aboriginal nations felt cheated by the treatment reserved for them by the English-speaking provinces and the federals. They had lowered the flags on the reserves on April 17.
In 2004, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams was frustrated with the turn of negotiations between Ottawa and his province over coastal natural resource rights issues. In protest, he ordered the removal of Canadian flags from all provincial buildings. Shortly after, he won his case.
In this 40and anniversary of the repatriation, François Legault should be inspired by this example. To denounce an injustice and a betrayal, to make constitutional gains, the fleur-de-lysé should be lowered on all Quebec government buildings.