A story came through the CP wire today that caught my eye. Justin Trudeau made a stop in Montreal and during his visit there he told reporters that Thomas Mulcair and his NDP needs to explain why they think Quebec should have a “clearer path” to sovereignty than the Supreme Court thought in its decision on the question in 1998.
This story interested me because I happen to have heard what Tom Mulcair has to say about the referendum question and I also took a course in Quebec politics in which we discussed the Supreme Court decision.
In fact we read a very interesting article that pointed out that what the Supreme Court did in its 1998 decision was abdicate all responsibility on the issue. The justices were specifically vague. A referendum and what the federal government had to do with any result of that referendum was, the court said, entirely a political decision, so long as the result was a clear answer on a clear question.
And the decision does not actually indicate what the justices mean by “clear.”
What Thomas Mulcair has done is indicate that, for an NDP government, 50% plus 1 would be a “clear result.”
What the Liberals have done is say that 50% plus 1 is not enough, without indicating what they might consider a “clear result.”
What we know is that any federal government, in the face of another referendum in Quebec, would have to define the clear question to be asked and the clear result they would accept before the question was put to voters. This means that any party in power were there to be another referendum must have a percentage in mind. Separatists in Quebec would never agree to have the federal government decide after the fact that their question or their result was not clear enough.
What we don’t know is why Trudeau is so concerned about this when there is no current threat of another referendum, especially after the recent total defeat of the PQ government.
Nor do we know why Trudeau seems hellbent on misleading people on the NDP position when it’s his party that has yet to take a clear stand. Except, as the article points out, that the Liberals are falling in the polls again.