Québec-Canada: A New Deal. The Québec Government Proposal for a New Partnership Between Equals: Sovereignty-Association
The Future of a People
Nothing is more natural.
To live is indeed to choose, and there is no progress without movement, effort, change. To progress one must move ahead and successfully meet the challenges of time.
Such crucial moments are rare. And perhaps it is better that way, since a certain amount of anguish is an inevitable concomitant. Even when the new path that opens at the crossroads is more promising than the old, we instinctively tend to exaggerate the pitfalls. And naturally, fear of change lends an unwonted attraction to the old road where there was no horizon.
Fear must be overcome to achieve success.
Here we all are, men and women of Quebec of whatever origin, at a crucial moment, a crossroads. After years of debate, constitutional "crises", inquiries and reports, the time has come to choose, freely and democratically, the path for our future.
A historic rendezvous, next spring, will give us that opportunity.
When the time comes to direct and commit its common destiny, a people must act only after mature reflection.
Quebecers, where do we come from, where are we now, and what are our chances of growth and fulfillment? Those are the questions a citizen must ask to make an enlightened decision, and the Government of Quebec wants to help answer them by explaining its option as clearly as possible.
For the Government of Quebec has reached the conclusion that our development as a people requires the transformation of today's federalism into an association in which Quebec, as part of an economic and monetary union, would have all the powers of a sovereign country, just like Canada. This new deal, between equals, is the only path leading from our past, through the demands of the present, toward a future which belongs to us.
Chapter One. "Lest We Forget"
Peoples, like individuals, have their own specific characteristics and evolve under specific conditions; that is why they do not all achieve control of their own destiny through identical means. But history shows that though the steps taken may vary, they all come as a result of a community awareness, a determination to be faithful, a desire to be open to the rest of the world.
A study of our past will show that the path taken by Quebecers, no matter how original it is, follows the same laws that have prevailed through the ages as various peoples have assumed national sovereignty.
Our ancestors put down their roots in American soil at the beginning of the 17th Century, at the time the first British settlers were landing on the east coast of what would become the United States. As they were clearing the land of the St. Lawrence Valley, they explored the vast continent in all directions, from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Through discovering, claiming and occupying the land, Quebecers began to look on themselves as North Americans.
By 1760, our community was already an established society along the shores of the St. Lawrence. North American by geography, French by culture, language and politics, this society had a soul, a lifestyle, a way of behaving, traditions, institutions that were its very own. Its struggles, its successes and the ordeals it endured had made it aware of its common destiny, and it was already impatient under the colonial ties.
The Will to Survive
Sooner or later, that society would have rid itself of the colonial yoke and acquired its independence, as was the case in 1776 for the United States of America. But in 1763 the hazards of war placed it under British control. Deprived of their leaders, many of whom had to go back to France, subject to new masters who spoke another language, kept out of the civil service by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, our ancestors, lacking influence and capital, and ruled by British law, saw the entire commercial and industrial structure they had built pass gradually into the hands of English merchants.
Faced with this defeat, Francophones spontaneously chose to be faithful. There could be no question of passing over to the winners' camp to reap the benefits that awaited them. They would adapt to the new situation, come to terms with the new masters, but above all they would preserve the essential elements that characterized our people- its language, its customs, its religion. They would survive, no matter what the cost.
The Will to Fight
As early as 1763, our ancestors, anxious to assert themselves, decided to resist. What if government, the civil service, trade and industry were closed to them? They retreated to the territory that was left to them: the villages, the land, the forests. There at least values could be preserved, the fabric of their communal-life reinforced, through the family, the parish, the school and local administrative bodies.
Helped by circumstances, they won their first political victory. In 1774, the Quebec Act made it possible for them to live in French and be governed by French civil law. Though it was partly because the British hoped to find in our people an ally against the rebel American colonies, this victory was nonetheless a vitally important one, since it both re-established historical continuity and laid the indispensable foundation for all future progress.
Over the years, our ancestors set down another, equally important, foundation for their future. They made good the numbers they lacked in 1760. From 60 000 at that time, their numbers increased to 120 000 by about 1785, 240 000 by about 1810 and 500 000 by about 1835. The population doubled every 25 years. Alongside the new Political structures that were being set up, in the rural areas a real country was being reshaped.
Following the American Revolution, British settlers began flocking in. They settled mainly in the Eastern Townships, and along the St. Lawrence from Montreal west to the Great Lakes where they gradually became a majority. Soon they demanded political institutions that would not make them subject to laws inspired by those of France, institutions in which they would recognize themselves culturally. Giving into their pressures, London decided in 1791 to divide the province into Lower Canada and Upper Canada, thus amputating from the Quebec territory the whole of the Great Lakes region today the richest part of Ontario-which became Upper Canada. Each province had its own Legislative Assembly and for the first time in its history our people could elect their own representatives.
The Parliament of Lower Canada, where the language used was French, proposed laws and a budget that were submitted for approval to the Governor, who exercised executive power on behalf of the London authorities. The people's will was often blocked by the Governor's veto, since the Governor was particularly sensitive to the interests of the English minority in Lower Canada and to those of the Imperial power. By 1830 the tense situation was nearing a crisis. The elected representatives drew up a list of resolutions in which they expressed their demands: control by the Assembly of taxes and spending as well as implementation of urgently needed economic and social measures. The Governor refused and dissolved the Assembly. In the elections that followed, the Patriotes, headed by Papineau, won 77 seats out of 88 with more than 90% of the vote. Presented with the same demands, the Governor responded by dissolving the Assembly once again.
It was a total stalemate. Though some political leaders and the inhabitants of some villages saw no other solution than resistance, the British themselves were exasperated and some hoped for armed confrontation, fearing they might "fall under the rule of a French republic". Governor Gosford put a price on the heads of the leaders of the Patriotes, and troops were sent out to capture Papineau and his lieutenants. The Patriotes' victory at St. Denis was their first and their last: they were crushed at St. Charles and St. Eustache. The repression was cruel: hundreds of Patriotes were jailed, and twelve were hanged; many farms were burned to the ground. The 1837 rebellion and its immediate consequences affected the Quebec people deeply and had a lasting influence on its attitudes and behaviour.
The Act of Union of 1840
To end the stalemate, Durham, in his famous report, recommended that the government be entrusted to a single Legislature that was decidedly English. The ideal solution would have been to federate all the British colonies, but there was not enough time. Aiming at essentials, London decided to join together in a single legislature the Assemblies of Upper and Lower Canada, and in 1840 passed the Act of Union. Even though the population of Lower Canada was larger than that of Upper Canada, the two provinces had the same number of representatives in the Assembly; moreover, Lower Canada had to assume an equal share of the substantially higher debt of Upper Canada.
Since all the representatives from Upper Canada were Anglophones - as were some from Lower Canada Governor Sydenham could, at last, count on an English majority. Thinking it had made the Francophones powerless, England granted to the Parliament of the Union responsible government and the control over taxes and spending that Upper Canada, and in particular Lower Canada, had demanded in vain. Because they were a minority, however, Francophones would be unable to reap the benefits of those measures.
The Act of Union abolished the use of French in the Legislature. However, the Francophone representatives quickly discovered that British parliamentary procedures allowed them to bring the debate to a standstill and that the interaction of the parties required mutual concessions: since they did not have real political equality, they sought at least parliamentary equality. Accordingly, they succeeded in having the use of the French language reestablished in the Assembly in 1849; they stopped several attempts at assimilation; they were able to defend and promote their interests and, in particular, to hamper Anglophone territorial and commercial expansion. In short, they turned against its authors the plan that was meant to hold them in check, and once again changes had to be considered.
In 1864, when debates on the projected federation began, the situation of the two peoples had changed considerably since 1763. Thanks to a strong immigration policy, Anglophones had added the supremacy of numbers to the political, economic and military supremacy they already enjoyed. And faced with the United States they began to dream of spreading from coast to coast and of linking by railway existing and future communities stretching across the country from East to West; they dreamed of a country which would reap maximum advantages from the industrial revolution, and they wanted this country to be theirs.
Francophones were also in a better position than before: thanks to "the revenge of the cradle" they had increased their population considerably and extended their hold on the territory; they had developed good, solid institutions-social, educational and cultural-since the 1837 rebellion. They had developed not only a new elite, but also an original way of life and a culture of their own as manifested by the work of their craftsmen, artists and thinkers. And though their determination and skills had won them major gains in the political arena, albeit limited and precarious, in the economic field, big business and industry were more difficult of access than ever and they had control only in agriculture.
The 1867 Federation
At the constitutional conferences of 1864 and 1866, the Quebec delegates and those from other provinces were pursuing very different goals. Upper Canada in particular wanted a supraprovincial parliament, endowed with as many important powers as possible, to preside over the destiny of the new country; Quebec on the other hand wanted its own responsible government, with a large degree of autonomy, that would guarantee once and for all the existence and progress of the Quebec people - a government that would be their real government. Opposition between a centralized federation and a decentralized confederation was felt from the start.
The first idea finally won out. Quebecers did gain responsible and autonomous government, but with its autonomy limited to jurisdictions seen then as being primarily of local interest. Agriculture and immigration were to be shared jurisdictions. The federal parliament would have exclusive powers over all other jurisdictions deemed essential to the development of a state: transportation, criminal law, money, banks, fisheries, excise and customs, interprovincial and international trade; the federal government could tax and spend as it wished, make laws concerning any issue that it declared to be in the national interest, disallow any provincial law that seemed to threaten its poolers and take over any jurisdiction not provided for in the Constitution. In case of disagreement or challenge, the Privy Council in London would be the final arbiter between the federal government and the provinces.
A Confederation in Name only
It is obvious that this new regime was a Confederation in name only. The provinces did not, in fact, delegate part of their powers to a parliament they had created; on the contrary, they were subject to a senior government that exercised in its own name the essential powers of a state. The architect of this new Constitution, John A. Macdonald, made no mystery of it: "... the Constitution confers on the General Legislature the general mass of sovereign legislation, the power to legislate on "all matters of a general character, not specially reserved for the local governments and legislatures." ... We thereby strengthen the Central Parliament, and make the Confederation one people and one government..."1
In fact the new regime was so centralized that as early as 1868, the long established Legislature of Nova Scotia thought seriously of withdrawing and long remained convinced that it had lost the powers it was accustomed to exercising.
Was this federal system preferable for Quebecers to the one they had experienced under the Union? Politicians were divided on the issue: Antoine-Aimé Dorion's Liberal party denounced Confederation-it was termed- a fool's bargain-and opposed it violently. Several Conservative MPs were undecided. When the project was put to a vote in the Assembly, 27 Francophones from Quebec (two of whom represented ridings where the majority was Anglophone) approved it and 22 rejected it. As for the population, its wishes will never be known since the government refused to consult it in a referendum as Antoine-Aimé Dorion had requested.
A Province like the Others
Under the terms of the British North America Act, Quebec is not the homeland of a nation, but merely a province among others, first four, then five, then ten; a province like the others, with no more rights or powers than the smallest of them. Nowhere in the British North America Act is there talk of an alliance between two founding peoples, or of a pact between two nations; on the contrary, there is talk of political and territorial unity, and of a national government which essentially dictates the direction the regional governments are to take. The English provinces know the score since, despite regional differences, they have always considered the central government to be the "senior government", the one that takes precedence over the others-from the point of view of the heart as well as the mind-and the one to which one owes allegiance. It appears certain that in 1867, the Anglophones of Canada saw the British North America Act as simply a British law, not a pact between two nations.
Subjected to outside political control even within its own boundaries, Quebec is in the same position in relation to the central government. In 1867, since it accounted for only one-third of the Canadian population, it could elect only 65 members of parliament out of 181 -not enough to allow it to continue, as it had done under the Union, to prevent the passage of laws and measures that were harmful to its interests. The expansion of English Canada could thus proceed unhindered, especially since London, in passing the British North America Act, had guaranteed a loan to build the first intercolonial railway; ten years later, the new regime would create three new provinces.
Tradeoffs between parties, which had been to their advantage under the Union, now played against Quebecers: by dividing the group representing them, they decreased its numerical importance and effectiveness. While Quebec maintained enough weight to gain concessions and promises during election campaigns, its weakness in the House largely cancelled out these advantages.
Francophones as a Minority
The federal regime thus sanctioned, and favoured as well, the supremacy of English Canada. It was natural that in such a regime the interests and aspirations of Quebecers and Francophones in other provinces should take second place.
In 1885, all of Quebec took the side of Louis Riel, who was fighting for the survival of Francophone communities in the West. The federal government, on the contrary, fought against him, and Louis Riel was hanged.
When the province of Manitoba was created, it had a slight majority of Francophones and the 1870 constitution guaranteed the rights of the French language. In the 1890S, however, the Manitoba government abolished French schools and the use of French in the House as we11 as in the documents of the Legislature.
At the turn of the century, the federal government did nothing to improve the deplorable economic situation of hundreds of thousands of Quebecers, shut in on their farms or unable to find work in the cities; nor did it do anything to stem the tide of migration to New England, where they were doomed to assimilation. The central government preferred to devote its energies to the implementation of its "national policy",2 which endowed Ontario with a solid industrial infrastructure from which it subsequently benefited greatly.
From 1900 to 1920, all the Francophone minorities outside Quebec-had to fight against their provincial governments, which were restricting the use of French in schools-going so far as to abolish it in Ontario-and making it very difficult, if not impossible, to establish French schools.
In 1914, despite firm and virtually unanimous opposition from Quebec, Canada entered the war. When, in addition, Ottawa imposed conscription, Quebec rose in revolt: crowds poured into the streets and conscripts hid; the demonstrations were severely repressed and the conscripts hunted down.
With the Statute of Westminster, passed in 1931, Canada freed itself of the last remnants of its subjection to Britain; however, Quebec remained in the same state of subservience to Ottawa; the Supreme Court, whose members are all appointed by the federal government, replaced the Privy Council as final arbiter of the Federation.
The Second World War gave rise to another crisis between Quebec and Canada. Quebec was opposed to conscription. Ottawa submitted the issue to a general referendum: English Canada answered with an overwhelming yes, while Francophones categorically said no. Conscription was ordered.
Though some federal laws belatedly attempted to encourage bilingualism in central institutions, these examples show that Francophones were never regarded in Canada as a society with a history, a culture and aspirations of its own. They were seen at best as an important linguistic minority with no collective rights or particular powers, one that must sooner or later melt into the Canadian whole, as English Canada long believed.
However, during the Second World War and because of it, Quebec definitely entered the industrial era; the result was an unprecedented stirring up of ideas in the population at large: the old sociological, intellectual, moral and political concepts were challenged and Quebec slowly discovered what it lacked, what it needed, what its resources were. Aspiring to enter the modern era, Quebec experienced a new vitality that the centralizing federal government dating from 1867 is still systematically trying to contain.
Chapter Two. Quebec's Experience of Federalism
No political system has an absolute value and federalism, for example, is not in itself good or bad. Indeed, it is obvious that it is not on the basis of theoretical arguments that a political system can be justified or condemned, but rather by examining the way it is applied and its long term effects on a specific population.
From the Anglophone point of view, for instance, Canadian federalism may be judged favourably and rightly so, if it answers the aspirations and serves the interests of that group; but another group-in this case Francophones-can no less justifiably judge the same political system unfavourably if it does not correspond to their aspirations or serve their interests.
Though federalism is not necessarily synonymous with poverty and political domination, neither is it a guarantee of freedom or a high standard of living; and it is no more the formula of the future than the unitary state is the formula of the past. In fact there are several kinds of federalism: some are found in rich countries, others in poor countries; some in democratic regimes, others in dictatorships.
In an area where everything is relative, there is a need for caution and discriminating judgment.
In Canada in recent years, federalism has been the object of severe criticism from many quarters. It is impossible here to review every element of that criticism, to analyse it through how citizens perceive the Canadian reality, or to evaluate the criteria on which their judgment is based. It is important, instead, to encourage people to embark on some real soul-searching between now and the Referendum, to distinguish between essentials and details and, in order to do that, to study federalism as Quebec has experienced it, and from the point of view of Quebecers.
Provincial Autonomy and Federalism
To grasp the essentials, one must go back to the beginning of Confederation in the 1860s, and to the motives which finally led Canada to a federal system rather than the unitary system some people had proposed. For if a combination of economic, financial and military causes explain why the British colonies joined together in 1867, it does not explain the federal character of the system.
Quebecers' determination not to live through another Union and to obtain as much control as possible over their own institutions, through a government that belonged to them, was the main reason for the federal character of the 1867 Constitution. John A. Macdonald, who well understood the desire of Quebecers for autonomy, declared many times that they would never accept a unitary system.
Quebec's aspiring to autonomy was one of the main reasons for the creation of the Canadian federal system. the unitary dream of English Canadians, however, caused them to interpret Canadian federalism very differently from Quebecers, a situation which gave rise to many misunderstandings.
The Centralizing Thrust
In 1867, Quebec acquired a certain political autonomy insofar as the central government scrupulously respected the jurisdictions reserved for the provinces. Yet in the very first years of the federal system, Ottawa intervened in areas that the provinces, and Quebec in particular, regarded as theirs. This trend towards centralization, more obvious at some times than at others but always present, grew stronger after the Second World War and particularly in recent years.
It is noteworthy, moreover, that Ottawa has constantly sought not so much to confirm or extend its authority over vast and costly jurisdictions, as to take over the political levers with which a modern government can contribute to shaping the society of the future. In this respect, the federal government's action is a greater threat to Quebec than to any other province, since it intensifies the minority status of Quebecers and makes them increasingly dependent on the very level of government whose power they wished to escape. All of Quebec's political leaders, regardless of their party affiliations - Duplessis, Sauvé, Lesage, Johnson, Bertrand and Bourassa - fought for Quebecers to have increasing control over their own affairs; none of them, however, succeeded in stopping the trend towards centralization, even if at times it was slowed down.
What is the explanation for this?
The Causes of Centralization
In the opinion of the Quebec government, there were four major reasons for the trend towards centralization.
First, the increased powers and influence of the central government corresponded to the aspirations of the English-Canadian community, which quite naturally saw this "national" government as the main instrument of its progress as a society. In Canada, the majority is inclined to favour centralization, whereas Quebecers definitely are not.
Secondly, the central government was able to take advantage of certain crises in order to intervene in provincial jurisdictions: the Depression, the Second World War, post-war social needs, unemployment, inflation, energy-all were pretexts for repeated federal intervention, with the consent of the Canadian majority, which deemed essential that Ottawa respond to the severity of the problems by "national" solutions, disregarding the allocation of jurisdictions set down in the Constitution. The law is born of necessity, and Quebec was subjected, despite itself, to the law of the majority.
Third, the wording of the British North America Act favoured the expansion of the central government by giving it all the powers that are not specifically allocated to the provinces. It was fairly simple in this respect for Ottawa to take over new areas not covered by the 1867 Constitution: income security, research, urban affairs, radio and television, recreation, sports, consumer affairs, the environment and many others! The British North America Act reserved the future for the central government; this seems normal to the Canadian majority, but not to Quebec.
Finally, the increase in the central government's power was possible because its fiscal and financial resources were so much greater than the provinces', since the Constitution gave it the right to levy all kinds of taxes while limiting the provinces to what is called direct taxation.
It was at the time of the Second World War that Ottawa succeeded in obtaining most of its fiscal resources by borrowing taxes from the provinces for the duration of the conflict in exchange for subsidies, then later refusing to return them despite its definite promises. Only after severe tensions and continuous federal-provincial disputes were some of these taxes repatriated by the provinces, thanks in large measure to a spectacular move by Prime Minister Duplessis who, by creating a provincial income tax in 1954, forced Ottawa to react. On its own initiative, Quebec thus reoccupied a fiscal field which it had only temporarily agreed to vacate during the war, but which the central government had retained.
It is true that the cost of administration in the provinces and the programs for which they are responsible have increased considerably since the end of the Second World War; but because federal grants for these programs are earmarked, they do not give the provinces any greater freedom, so that in many areas they must be content with managing programs conceived and directed by the federal government. Thus the provinces' freedom of action is reduced and their initiative undermined; they are subject to priorities set by others, and their decision making powers have not grown in line with their budgets. Quebec, a distinct society, is all the more sensitive to this situation in that its Government must constantly adapt its action to pan-Canadian programs and to criteria ill-suited to the specific needs of its population.
Invasion of Social Policy
Ottawa refused to return to the provinces the taxes it had borrowed because it deemed all these fiscal resources necessary for solving post-war problems, as well as to create a whole series of social programs under its responsibility and subject to federal standards: family allowances, old age pensions, unemployment insurance and later, hospital insurance, medicare, etc. It was only thanks to the tenacity of the Quebec government that in 1963 and 1964, for example, the Quebec Pension Plan and the Caisse de Dépot (Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund) resisted the federal will to create a single pension plan for the whole of Canada.
While paying taxes to Ottawa for their share of federal programs, Quebecers still had to finance the social measures they felt they required to fill their own needs.
Quebec, one of the few provinces that has adopted a supplementary family allowance plan, has just instituted a supplementary guaranteed income plan. Furthermore the Quebec government, whatever the party, in power, has always maintained that an integrated social security system administered entirely by Quebec-if it repatriated the fiscal resources required-would be more logical, less costly, better adapted and consequently more advantageous to Quebecers than the present system.
Invasion of Labour Relations
More recently, by introducing wage and price controls, the federal government, invoking inflation, despite Quebec's opposition and with the authorization of the Supreme Court, intervened directly in collective bargaining and the setting of prices, two areas which were previously considered to be under provincial jurisdiction. The special problems that these new federal encroachments created for Quebec are common knowledge, particularly their effects on the social climate.
Invasion of Municipal Affairs
The encroachments of the federal government have not been limited to social affairs. Even municipalities, which come under exclusive provincial jurisdiction, are offered direct subsidies, resulting in confusion and complicating the implementation of a provincial policy respecting municipal affairs, be it in the areas of housing, mass transportation, the environment or recreation.
The task force on urban affairs chaired by Claude Castonguay made, in its report, a severe indictment of this federal invasion:
"Even if each federal intervention, taken separately and viewed from a special perspective, may seem useful and well founded, when all of these interventions are considered together, their effect is to make the federal government omnipresent in Quebec's urban and local affairs.
The federal government encourages local authorities to make certain decisions by using the carrot of subsidies and low-interest loans.
Since it is a higher level, it can afford to ignore the principle of fiscal responsibility at the local level, and increase its gifts. By acting in this way, it responds to the demands of well-organized groups that want subsidized services and are under the illusion they will get them for nothing. Such a process can only reduce the Quebec government to the role of a beggar vis-à-vis the federal government"3
This situation is not restricted to municipal affairs, far from it!
The energy crisis gave the central government a pretext for becoming involved in the management of natural resources, despite the fact they are the exclusive property of the provinces: through its power over interprovincial and international trade, it "nationalized" the marketing of oil and gas. This new intrusion is extremely dangerous for Québec, which abounds in natural resources-most of them renewable and therefore inexhaustible-and could make it lose control of its most important development tool. The threat is particularly serious since, on this issue, the federal government can count on support from Ontario, which is much less well endowed in this respect than the other provinces.
The federal strategy regarding uranium also provides food for thought. Shortly after the Second World War, invoking its jurisdiction in the area of national defence, Ottawa took over the management of atomic energy, while leaving mining to the provinces. As federal policy evolved and uranium was no longer used for military purposes, the justification was no longer valid: since 1977, this time invoking the national interest, Ottawa has attempted to take over the management of uranium completely-despite the unanimous opposition of the provinces which fear that the administration of mining may come under a double jurisdiction. The pretexts have changed, but the federal will to centralize remains.
As a reminder, other areas could be mentioned: the challenge to the agreement on maritime fisheries, the efforts to control securities and insurance, using criminal law to control lotteries and the declaratory power to regulate, in Quebec, the telephone system, grain trade and flour mills.
But there is worse still ...
Invasion of Culture
Culture is so closely linked to the language, identity and soul of a people that, within Quebec, it naturally comes under Quebec jurisdiction. But when radio appeared, it became evident that the central government did not see it that way. Radio, and later television, through an interpretation of the courts, were placed under exclusive federal jurisdiction. Ottawa later demanded and, obtained exclusive jurisdiction over cable distribution, waiting to do the same for pay television and teleprocessing. The central government consented at most to negotiate administrative arrangements with the provinces and to issue permits for educational television. Thus Ottawa has control over a powerful instrument, while Quebec has no say about programming that has a considerable cultural impact, which is of vital importance to Quebec.
Since Ottawa perceives the need to create and assert a Canadian identity distinct from the American identity, it has paid attention to all areas of cultural life. It intervenes heavily in all the provinces as well as in all cultural fields: art, literature, parks, theatre, heritage, museums, books, films, recreation, amateur sport, post-secondary education and vocational training. Controlling increasing amounts of money for cultural purposes, it spends even more in Quebec than Quebec spends itself. It goes ahead without consultation, arbitrarily, according to its own standards, refusing any coordination. Yet it would be far more logical and efficient if Quebec were to implement the cultural policy it now has, and for which it has primary responsibility.
Although, in 1867, Quebecers wanted to keep in Quebec the control of all their social and cultural institutions as well as the fiscal and financial resources required to develop those institutions, and although they thought that federalism would allow them to achieve that goal, 112 years later, it must be admitted that the evolution of the federal political system has led instead to the transfer to Ottawa of major responsibilities which, considering their social and cultural impact, should have come under Quebec control. Thus it is Quebec's autonomy that is threatened by that evolution, since the central government is now in a position to play a role which normally should be played by the Government of Quebec-the only one that truly belongs to the Quebec nation.
In fact, the Quebec government has always faced a dilemma: either give in to the trend towards centralization inherent in the Canadian federal system, or uphold at any cost the exercise of its constitutional rights, despite federal intrusions.
Until now, no Quebec government, regardless of the party in power, has agreed to the first Solution and the eventual loss of its political autonomy. In varying degrees, all Quebec governments have accepted the second by resisting federal intrusions and fighting for their autonomy.
The choice of resistance over submission had a definite impact on the way the system functions, an impact which must be considered when Canadian federalism is weighed in the balance.
Besides the ongoing conflicts between the central government and the Quebec government, Quebec's determination to resist federal intrusions and to protect its autonomy as much as possible has resulted in ever greater overlapping of the activities of the two governments. These overlaps, which are naturally very costly, are the inevitable consequence of a constitutional situation no one ever wanted-or was able-to clarify. It forces governments, both federal and provincial, into a climate of competition with no clear division of powers and resources, in an attempt to get around a constitutional problem that has become impossible to solve and to satisfy the needs of the population.
In 1937, according to a study by the Ecole nationals d'administration publique, programs already overlapped in 15 sectors out of 36; today 34 out of 36 sectors are affected. As an example, small and medium-sized Quebec firms are now entangled in 162 aid programs or forms of assistance, leading to 317 various kinds of intervention provided by 79 federal or provincial agencies. This is no doubt a world record for an economy like Quebec's!
Today it can be said that overlapping is a rule in Canadian federalism, stemming from the system itself. A combination of political and economic forces led to the development of two governmental systems with almost identical purposes, and thus to generalized administrative disorder and, in particular, to a waste of money and energy that is difficult to measure accurately.
In 1940, the Rowell-Sirois Commission understood very well the nature of the problem and the cost to taxpayers of the often contradictory action taken by the two levels of government.
These factors point to the inevitability of some waste and maladjustment in such a federation as the Dominion of Canada, even if a high degree of co-operation' and unanimity can be maintained between the several governments. The aim of administrations must, therefore, be to confine waste as much as possible to what is inherent and unavoidable...
But many wastes are of nature which such administrative surveys are unable to disclose since they arise from unwise, static and outmoded policies which fail to change with the needs of a dynamic economy. 4
Some of the consequences of overlapping are: incoherence and contradictions that confuse the population; increased complexity of relations between citizens and government institutions; the frequent need to duplicate procedures, such as preparing two tax returns; less and less efficiency in politics and administration, as well as in government departments and agencies; and finally, a higher price to pay than would be the case if a single government provided all the services.
Meetings, Committees, Conferences
In an attempt to escape this administrative muddle, that great Canadian invention, the committee, came forth. Committees have been called on to ensure the functioning of a federalism which obviously no longer meets the needs of the citizens. In 1957, there were 64 federal/provincial bodies; in 1967, there were 119; in 1977, there were 158-and in that year alone they met 335 times.
In Canada there are more and more meetings, more and more often-and probably with fewer and fewer results. For example, between April 1978 and March 1979, Quebec took part in the following federal-provincial events: 70 meetings involving 246 civil servants and 46 meetings at the ministerial level requiring the presence of 334 delegates from Quebec.
Poorly Adapted Economic Policy
While everyone ran from committee to committee, the federal government, with the main levers of the economy at its disposal, was free to enforce its own policies and direct economic growth throughout Canada as it pleased.
From the beginning the railway was one of the main tools contributing to the development of Ontario and the Canadian West and it continues to serve the interests of those regions today.
Only 12% of the Canadian railway network is in Quebec; Quebec has only 0.9 miles of railway per capita compared to the Canadian average of 2.1 miles; and products entering or leaving Quebec are subject to rail rates about 40% higher than the Canadian average.
Location of Industry
The Canadian steel industry is located mainly in southern Ontario, where it takes advantage of preferential railway rates. The same is true for heavy and durable goods industries using high technology and providing well-paid jobs. Quebec was the location for many industries producing non-durable goods, using low technology and requiring plentiful, cheap labour.
The Auto Pact between Canada and the United States made it possible to concentrate nearly 90% of automobile production in Ontario, with all the advantages of subcontracting. This pact, signed in 1965, directly or indirectly created more than 210 000 jobs in Ontario, in the first six years; it brought almost nothing to Quebec. This did not prevent Ottawa from recently granting a $40 000 000 subsidy to the Ford Company to locate another large plant in Ontario.
Beginning in the 1960s Ottawa, as a member government in the GATT commercial agreements, maintained a systematic policy of lowering the protection granted to the traditional sectors located mainly in Quebec, thereby causing the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. The situation became so serious that, under pressure from the Quebec government, supported by all economic agents in Quebec, Ottawa was forced into temporary retreat and imposed quotas on the entry of footwear and clothing.
On the other hand, and despite the obvious advantages for these traditional sectors of the Quebec economy, Ottawa fiercely resisted Quebec's formula for abolishing the sales tax.
Moreover, as the 400-odd crown corporations and other federal agencies are almost all located in Ontario, it is not surprising that on the average, between 1961 and 1977, only 20.6% of federal job creating expenditures were made in Quebec (salaries, goods, services, subsidies and investments) compared to more than 40% in Ontario.
In another, not unrelated sector, several research organizations were created by the federal government in different areas-among them the important National Research Council; most are located in Ottawa. Furthermore, almost all the federal laboratories, now employing more than 2 000 scientists, were built in that city.
In agriculture, federal policy has always favoured the development of certain products in specific regions, while discouraging them elsewhere. Consider, for example, the policy aimed at helping western wheat producers, which never had any equivalent in Quebec although Quebec had formerly been a net exporter of grain and still maintains excellent possibilities in this area. Consider also policies that forced Quebec producers to remain in fields where there was no opportunity for expansion. Lacking a market, Quebec farmers had to develop other products, often without any federal help, and sometimes despite almost insurmountable obstacles.
It is obvious that the agricultural policy of the federal government, by helping some and neglecting others, upset the economic balance of agriculture in entire regions.
The federal policy of assisting the transportation of agricultural products is another intervention that is harmful to the diversification of agriculture in Quebec: its effect is often to wipe out one of our main comparative advantages in agriculture, i.e. our closeness to markets. Thus it costs no more to deliver New Brunswick potatoes to Quebec City than to deliver them from Portneuf to the same place. The Quebec market, and particularly the Montreal market, is open to producers from other provinces, though Quebec producers are not given the same advantages in the Toronto market for example.
An Urgent Need for Action
While the federal government continues to invade our jurisdictions, and impose policies that clash with our interests, the demographic weight of Quebecers and of Francophones outside Quebec is constantly decreasing. Demographer Robert Maheux predicts that in 1991, 73% of citizens of French ethnic origin outside Quebec will have ceased to use the French language. Another demographer, Jacques Henripin, predicts that by about the year 2000 between 92% and 95% of Francophones in Canada will be living in Quebec. As for Quebecers, who made up around 36% of the Canadian population in 1851, in 1971 they accounted for only 28%, and this proportion will drop to 23% by 2001 if the current trend is maintained, because of Quebec's low rate of birth and immigration.
These demographic losses necessarily result in a marked decrease of the political role played by Quebecers in Canada. From 1867 to 1979, the number of Quebec MPs in Ottawa increased by 10, from 65-70; the number of MPs from other provinces increased by 91, from 116-207. And the trend grows stronger: in the last election there was one new seat in Quebec, 17 in the rest of Canada. It is foreseen in 20 years that the rest of Canada will have 250 MPs and Quebec only 75. While they were more than 1/3 of federal MPs in 1867, Quebecers will account for less than ¼ by the end of the century.
Under these circumstances, it would be an illusion to believe that, in future, Francophones can play a determining role in the Government of Canada. On the contrary, they will be more and more of a minority and English Canada will find it increasingly easy to govern without them. In that respect, far from being an anomaly, the Clark government is a sign of things to come.
Given these prospects, and taking into account Quebec's experience of federalism, particularly in recent years, Quebecers feel it is urgent to take action before it is too late. Since Canadian federalism has -proved unable to ensure for Quebecers the political autonomy they have always sought, the time has come to decide whether to replace this system by another or to attempt once more to make more or less far-reaching changes.
Chapter Three. Federalism: an Impasse
In the opinion of the Quebec government, recent history has proved it is impossible to renew Canadian federalism in such a way as to meet the needs of both Quebec and Canada.
Indeed, many attempts have been made over the years to change our federal system in depth. They were all in vain, despite great efforts. What is the meaning of so many repeated failures in such an important area?
The Depression and Centralization
During the Depression, some of the major shortcomings of federalism became evident as Canada proved unable to pull itself out of its state of stagnation. At first, everyone held firm to traditional measures: colonization programs, public works, direct relief, limits on working hours, etc., were just so many forms of almost useless temporary relief. Soon the federal, as well as provincial and municipal governments, were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, and some provinces and many municipalities were even threatened with bankruptcy.
It became obvious that the very organization of Canadian federalism had to be reconsidered: the Liberal government of Mackenzie King set up the Rowell-Sirois Commission, whose mandate seems to have been lifted from today's headlines: to make recommendations on the division of legislative powers and fiscal resources.
There were two possible solutions: either to redistribute powers between the various levels of governments in accordance with their fiscal resources, or redistribute those resources so the provinces could fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. Choosing to reinforce the centralizing character of the federation, the Commissioners proposed that Ottawa be given responsibility for the new unemployment insurance and old-age pension plans, by giving it a monopoly on personal income taxes, corporate taxes and succession duties. In compensation, they suggested that Ottawa give the provinces annual subsidies, the amount to be determined in accordance with a pan-Canadian norm. As for the distribution of powers, the Commission suggested a new mechanism: delegating jurisdiction from one level to the other according to needs and circumstances.
This "new federalism" was considered completely unacceptable by Quebec and some other provinces; at this point the Second World War broke out and the Commission's recommendations were temporarily set aside, except for the question of unemployment insurance.
The Post-War Period
When the war was over, the federal government launched a formidable centralizing attack, which is still going on. Quebec immediately put up a strong resistance. Since Ottawa was slowly but surely undermining resistance in the Anglophone provinces-Ontario was the last to give in, in 1952-Prime Minister Duplessis created his own constitutional commission in 1953, the Tremblay Commission, which proposed a quite different view of federalism:
- sovereignty of the provinces in their areas of jurisdiction
- equality of the two levels of government
- fiscal autonomy of the provinces
- recognition of the Quebec government as the national government of French Canadians (i.e. of Quebecers).
The Report of the Tremblay Commission gave a new impetus to Quebec's fight for autonomy, one that was to be particularly lively during the "Quiet Revolution" of the 1960s. The many reforms undertaken at the time to better respond to the needs of Quebecers illustrated more than ever the need for a new division of constitutional powers. Because of the presence and the actions of the federal government in many areas where it wanted to act, Quebec found it difficult to plan and implement the measures it dreamed of; therefore, to consolidate its own powers, it was essential to exert continuous pressure on Ottawa.
Those pressures were not exerted in vain. Quebec opted out of some shared cost programs; it widened its room for fiscal manoeuvre, while its needs constantly increased; it created its own pension plan and the Caisse de dépot; (the Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund) and finally it signed agreements with France.
For a time, Quebec succeeded in halting and even containing Ottawa's centralizing thrust. Thus in the case of taxation the new arrangements meant only a partial return to the 1939 situation, and Quebec increased its fiscal freedom more through the contributions of its taxpayers than through the revenues returned by Ottawa.
The Laurendeau-Dunton Commission
Faced with the upsurge in Quebec, which threatened the future of the federal order, the Canadian government, then led by Lester B. Pearson, created in 1963 the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in Canada, with a mandate to recommend steps to ensure the development of the Canadian federation according to the principle of equality between two founding peoples. As early as its preliminary hearing in November 1963, the Commission raised two questions :
- What in fact does equality of the two languages and the two cultures mean, and under what conditions can it be realized?
- Do Canadians want this equality? Do they accept the conditions under which it could be achieved?
Later, in their first working document, the Commissioners reported one of their findings, then raised a question:
- The equality in question is not equality of citizens before the law, which is already part of the law of the land, but the equality of cultures and societies.
- How can the requirements of that equality be reconciled within the framework of a ten-province federation and of a parliamentary democracy in which the political representatives of the two cultures are unequal in number?
From that moment, it became obvious that the answers would not be easy. More than ten years have passed since the Laurendeau-Dunton report was published. It is interesting to review, with the perspective allowed by time, how the Commissioners saw the Canadian problem:
Canada is in the most critical period of its history since Confederation. We believe that there is a crisis, in the sense that Canada has come to a time when decisions must be taken and developments must occur leading either to its break-up, or to a new set-of conditions for its future existence ...
The chief protagonists, whether they are entirely conscious of it or not, are French-speaking Quebec and English-speaking Canada. And it seems to us to be no longer the traditional conflict between a majority and a minority. It is rather a conflict between two majorities: that which is a majority in all Canada, and that which is a majority in the entity of Quebec. That is to say, French-speaking Quebec acted for a long time as though at least it had accepted the idea of being merely a privileged "ethnic minority"' Today, the kind of opinion we met so often in the province regards Quebec practically as an autonomous society, and expects her to be recognized as such. This attitude goes back to a fundamental expectation for French Canada, that is, to be an equal partner with English-speaking Canada ...
English-speaking Canadians as a whole must come to recognize the existence of a vigourous French-speaking society within Canada... They have to face the fact that, if Canada is to continue to exist, there must be a true partnership, and that the partnership must be worked out as between equals. They must be prepared to discuss in a forthright, open-minded way the practical implications of such a partnership.5
The report offered partial answers to the question raised by what the Commissioners called "the central idea of the mandate", that is to say equality between the two peoples.
The two dominant cultures in Canada are embodied in distinct societies... We recognized the main elements of a distinct French-speaking society in Quebec. The same may be said of the other culture in the English-speaking provinces... The fundamental unity of the English-speaking society appears to us beyond question, and is particularly exemplified by the relative ease with which members of the various provincial units-and even members of the partial societies-find a common meeting around in the central government, and enter its Public Service...
As we understand our mandate, equality should be the equal partnership not only of the two peoples which founded Confederation but also of each of their respective languages and cultures, then, the equal partnership of all who speak either language and participate in either culture, whatever their ethnic origin. For us the principle of equal partnership takes priority over all historical and legal considerations...
Individual equality can fully exist only if each community has, throughout the country, the means to progress within its culture and to express that culture. To this end it will have its own institutions in certain fields, while in other sectors it will be free to participate, on satisfactory terms, in common institutions and agencies...
Let us consider another dimension of equality between the two communities-the political dimension. This covers the possibilities for each society to choose its own institutions or, at least, to have the opportunity to participate fully in making political decisions within a framework shared with the other community.
The collective aspect of equality is here still more evident; it is not cultural growth and development at the individual level which is at stake, but the degree of self determination which one society can exercise in relation to another. We have in mind the power of decision of each group and its freedom to act, not only in its cultural life but in all aspects of its collective life. We are no longer concerned with the characteristics which distinguish the two communities qualitatively, or even with their respective social and economic positions, but with the extent of the control each has over its government or governments.
... A politically dominant majority easily takes its advantages for granted and does not take into account the difficulties of the minority, especially when that minority is treated with a degree of liberality, or at least an appearance of liberality, in cultural matters. But as soon as the minority is aware of its collective life as a whole, it may very well aspire to the mastery of its own existence and begin to look beyond cultural liberties. It raises the question of its political status. It feels that its future and the progress of its culture are not entirely secure, that they are perhaps limited, within a political structure dominated by a majority composed of the other group.
... This viewpoint, so hotly opposed by some, is deeply entrenched In Quebec. It has even been, in recent years, at the root of some of the most spectacular, if not the most serious, manifestations of the crisis in Canada.6
Those lines were written in 1967!
Yet the Commission's report was to remain unheeded with respect to one of its fundamental points, political equality. The death of André Laurendeau, co-chairman of the Commission, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's rise to power, the fact that the Commission did not translate into concrete proposals its ideas of political equality, all of these things were contributory factors in the shelving of this essential element of the Laurendeau Dunton report. Hoping nevertheless to solve the Quebec problem, Ottawa agreed to implement some of the report's recommendations concerning language equality at the individual level. But the fundamental questions the Commissioners raised as early as 1963 remained without issue: What does the equality of the two societies mean in fact? How can this equality by reconciled within a ten-province federation?
Revision of the Constitution, 1968-1971
Many people hoped to find those answers in what was to be the greatest effort to revise the Constitution in Canadian history. From February 1968 to June 1971, first ministers, cabinet ministers and civil servants met frequently, sometimes under television lights, sometimes behind closed doors, to review the problem of the Constitution in its entirety in order to find a satisfactory solution. For three and a half years many experts were consulted, hundreds of documents were drafted, dozens of official stands were taken. Yet in June 1971, after the Victoria Conference, the whole undertaking collapsed, and the Canadian problem loomed as large as before.
It would be impossible to summarize the story of that great debate here, even briefly. Let us simply remember that Quebec would have given up the principle and positions it deemed essential if it had endorsed the Victoria constitutional charter; only this would have assured the success of the conference-from the point of view of Ottawa and the other provinces. All through the many conferences and working meetings, Quebec's ideas and those of English Canada never seemed reconcilable. While Quebec wanted above all a new division of powers that would have given constitutional recognition to the Quebec nation and guaranteed it the means to satisfy its aspirations, English Canada was interested primarily in patriating the Constitution, modernizing federal institutions such as the Senate and the Supreme Court, and in certain aspects of the distribution of powers between Ottawa and the provinces. As for the federal government, which wanted most of all to incorporate in the Constitution a charter of fundamental and linguistic rights, it largely shared the views of English Canada.
From the very beginning Quebec and the rest of Canada differed fundamentally on the very nature of the problem: the status of Quebec and Quebecers, as a society, within Canada. English Canada put the accent on individual rights and preferred to ignore any reference to collective rights; Quebec, on the contrary, maintained that the Canadian crisis could be overcome only by officially recognizing the national duality of Canada, and accepting the political consequences of this recognition.
The Pepin-Robarts Task Force
Surprised by the results of the 1976 Quebec election, Ottawa moved to create a new commission of inquiry the Pepin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian unity, which submitted its report in January 1979. As was to be expected, it provides a new diagnosis of what is called the Canadian crisis. Although they also sound the alarm on the urgency of revising the Canadian Constitution, the Commissioners' analysis is different from that of the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission. The new Commissioners abandoned the theme of equality between peoples and chose instead that of national unity: from a search for equality between the two founding peoples, they return to the simple recognition of duality. This change in perspective, which deserves to be emphasized, is particularly noticeable because the Commissioners even specify that the dualistic character of the country is moderated, outside Quebec, by strong feelings of regionalism. In short, they tell Quebecers that "their" problem is only one of the six major problems Canada faces-the other five being the demands of the native peoples, a difficult economic situation, the alienation of the Canadian West, the awakening of new Canadians, and the questioning of the role of the central government.
Although the Pepin-Robarts report did not really propose a Solution that entirely satisfied Quebecers, it did recommend increasing Quebec's powers, particularly in cultural and social affairs. Yet, only a few weeks after it was published it had, to all intents and purposes, been shelved by Ottawa, along with all the other reports of this type. And since the Clark government has come to power, there has been no mention of it.
The Final Efforts
The most recent series of negotiations, which lasted from October 1978 to February 1979, constituted a desperate, last-minute federal effort (Bill C-60) to show Quebecers it was possible to agree on certain constitutional amendments. The failure of the exercise, all told, only confirms the opposite.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that the new Conservative government will really reactivate this file, for despite its election promises it does not seem prepared to face the constitutional problem head on, since it is not one of its priorities.
In the view of the Quebec government, the lamentable story of the many vain attempts to revise the Constitution proves how illusory it is to hope that federalism can ever be renewed in such a way as to satisfy both Quebec and the rest of Canada.
An insurmountable obstacle blocks the way to "renewed federalism", one that has stopped all those who have tried to bring about fundamental changes in the federal system: in order to strengthen Quebec, to build it, Quebecers must, as the system now stands, ask English Canadians to undermine and dismantle their national institutions.
To respond to Quebec's needs and ensure its development, it would indeed be necessary to transfer to all the provinces so many powers that now belong to Ottawa that it would add up, in the eyes of English Canadians, to the almost total disappearance of the central government. As we have already said, English Canadians insisted as early as 1867 on giving priority to their "national" government, just as they have tended in each crisis to increase its power and its means of action. How can we hope then, within the present system, that they will abandon something it took them more than a hundred years to build? Their determination to preserve their institutions is probably equalled only by Quebec's determination to satisfy its needs and aspirations.
The Logic of the System
Of course English Canadians say they are ready to improve the system. But we must be wary of words: the expression "renewed federalism", very much in fashion these days, can have many meanings.
Certain Quebecers, when they talk of "renewed federalism" because they are dissatisfied with the status quo, think of a serious and substantial transformation of the system, not a cosmetic job.
English Canadians, on the other hand, give quite a different meaning to the term: it is a "touched up" federalism that they want, since they feel that any reform must totally respect the role and the prerogatives of the central government, seen as the "national government" of all Canadians. This prior requirement implies maintaining federal control on levers that, in Quebec's view, are indispensable to its own progress.
The very balance of the system, as the Canadian majority wants it, requires that Quebec remain a province-or perhaps a territory-among ten others, and forbids the formal and concrete recognition of a Quebec nation. The fact that it is impossible, in the present federal framework, for Quebec to become a nation, constitutes the very basis of the Canada-Quebec political problem.
Special Status: an Illusion
Some Quebecers believed in good faith that the answer to the problem was to give Quebec a special status. The idea, fashionable during the sixties and taken up again with certain variations, seemed to have the advantage of answering a good many of Quebec's aspirations without forcing other provinces into constitutional rearrangements they do not want. But this solution was quickly rejected by English Canada, which was opposed to Quebec's possible acquisition of powers denied to the other provinces.
In any case, as former Prime Minister Trudeau often said, special status for Quebec would place Quebec Members of Parliament in Ottawa in an absurd and untenable position. How could they vote on federal laws that would apply to all of Canada except Quebec? How could they impose on Canadians taxes that Quebecers would not pay? And how could the prime minister or cabinet ministers come from Quebec, where many federal programs would not apply? The entire operation of responsible government would be paralyzed.
The Impossibility of Renewal
Of course, in an attempt to calm Quebec's fears, and confronted with certain obvious needs, the federal government has consented to certain arrangements or administrative compromises that are in no way basic reforms of the system: each compromise has been made because of a crisis; they have been automatically offered to all the provinces to avoid giving Quebec special treatment; they have avoided any constitutional amendment; and they have been made only to the extent that the federal government's supremacy in the areas involved was not weakened. In other words, the fundamental balance of the system must not be upset, something that would inevitably happen if Quebec changed its provincial status. All the constitutional debates of these past years make sense only if they are considered in terms of a change in status for Quebec. Quebec's approach to the issue of autonomy is not merely an administrative quarrel between Quebec and Ottawa; nor is it an expression of purely regional preoccupations to which some people would like to reduce Quebec's aspirations; it is the manifestation of the firm conviction of Quebecers that they constitute a distinct community and people. Here lies the sole reason for their profound concern; the skirmishes of politicians and civil servants are unimportant.
The irreconcilable difference in perspective thus largely explains why the efforts of recent years to revise the Constitution never got anywhere.
One simple conclusion can be drawn from all these observations. If we want both to save the present system and to renew federalism, we will have to resign ourselves to giving up to the central government, in which Quebecers will always be a minority, an impressive number of prerogatives and decision-making centres that to date Quebec has been demanding for itself.
For Quebecers that would mean implicitly accepting the fact that control over some of their most vital affairs would go to a government over which they could never exert more than an indirect or passing influence; it would mean entrusting their interests and their future to others. Very few nations in the world would be satisfied with such an arrangement.
Let us finally dispose of this impossible "renewed federalism"; let us admit that there is no version that is acceptable to all of the supporters of the present system, and none that seems likely to be accepted in the foreseeable future. Thus it is obvious that to solve the Quebec-Canada political problem which the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission described more that fifteen years ago, a different formula must be found.
It is precisely this formula, which will satisfy both Quebec's needs for autonomy and the equally normal need of English Canada for cohesion, that the Quebec government intends to propose in the next chapter.
Chapter Four. A New Deal
If we are really looking for a new agreement between Quebec and the rest of Canada, it is absolutely essential to replace federalism by another constitutional formula.
This search for a new formula must be carried out with due consideration for the fundamental, legitimate preoccupations of Quebecers, who want to communicate and talk directly and freely with their neighbours and with other nations, who do not want to destroy Canada or to be completely separate from it, who wish to improve their situation, and who are determined to see that the changes to come are made democratically and without disorder.
The Government of Quebec fully shares and endorses these preoccupations.
The Way of the Future
Thinking of the future the Government of Quebec proposes a constitutional formula which would replace the present federal system and at the same time respect the legitimate feelings of Quebecers toward Canada. This new system, while freeing Quebec from Ottawa's domination, would not break up an economic community that extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific; it would ensure for Quebec a maximum of autonomy while maintaining the natural interdependence and the historical and human links that exist between Quebec and the rest of Canada; it would enable Quebec to institute the measures that it lacks at present, without forcing the other provinces to accept responsibilities they do not feel they need. This new system would provide permanent solutions to the many problems engendered by relations between Quebec and Ottawa over the years.
Of the two roads open to Quebecers-a federalism whose fundamental renewal is to all intents and purposes impossible because it would contradict the very nature of federalism, and a new agreement between Quebec and Canada capable of reconciling political autonomy and economic interdependence-the Government of Quebec has chosen the latter, sovereignty-association, a contemporary expression of Quebec's continuity, in brief a new deal.
The Modern Phenomenon of Association
The recent history of international relations shows that federalism can no longer be regarded-as the only formula capable of reconciling the objectives of autonomy and interdependence. Although it was fashionable in the past century, the federal formula must now give way to associations between sovereign countries. While no new federations are being created, economic associations are on the increase on every continent. It is not possible to mention them all, but we can draw up a table of the principal cases, many of which have come about in the past forty years.
Modern Associations of Sovereign States
- European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)
- European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
- European Economic Community (EEC) (Great Britain, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Denmark, and soon, Greece, Spain and Portugal)
- The Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (Belgium and Luxembourg)
- Benelux (Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg)
- The Nordic Council (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland)
- The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (Austria, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal)
In Latin America
- The Latin-American Free Trade Association (Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia)
- The Sub-Regional Andean Integration Group (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chili, Colombia)
- The Central American Common Market (Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica)
- The Caribbean Community and Common Market (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, St. Vincent, Anguilla)
- The West African Economic Community (Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Upper Volta, Mali, Niger, Senegal)
- The Central African Customs and Economic Union (Cameroon, Central African Empire, Popular Republic of the Congo,Gabon)
- The West African Monetary Union (Benin, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Mali)
- The Central Bank of Central African States (Cameroon, Central African Empire, Congo, Gabon, Tchad)
- The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Indonesia, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand)
These various associations of sovereign states are distinguished from one another by the nature of their activity and the degree of their integration, as well as by the history of relations between the member states and their various characteristics: population, culture, political system, etc.
The European communities are probably the most advanced examples of economic integration. Their activity is primarily economic, but it also spills over into social policy and scientific policy, among other areas. The economic union between Belgium and Luxembourg, and the Benelux countries, which appeared before the European Economic Community, are part of the European movement toward economic integration, while preserving a certain cohesion of their own within the Nine. As for the European Free Trade Association, its economic links are rather weak.
On the other hand, the Nordic Council and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, while not as completely integrated, have a much more diversified activity.
Basing itself firmly on the historical trend of Quebec thinking, which has always sought to redefine relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada on a more egalitarian basis, the Government of Quebec proposes this type of modern formula of association between sovereign countries to ensure for Quebecers a better control of their own affairs, without shattering the Canadian economic framework.
Association in equality may take many forms: far more flexible than federalism, it is more easily adapted to the realities of countries that resort to it, and the degree of association will depend on whether cooperation is to be limited to certain fields or maximum advantage is to be taken of a broader economic community.
Modern economic associations are generally the result of cooperation between individual countries and entirely sovereign nations, which have agreed to pool some of their powers. In such cases, integration is based on the sovereignty of the partners. In our case, however, economic integration already exists and it is the sovereignty of the partners -that must be established. The point of departure is different but the aim is identical.
The Implications of Sovereignty
The idea of sovereignty is clearly defined in international law: it is, in general terms, the power to make decisions autonomously, without being subject in law to any superior or exterior power, which implies that the sovereign state has full jurisdiction over a given territory. Sovereignty ensures complete autonomy, in the sense that the state enjoys full legal freedom in all fields; its authority is exercised to the exclusion of any other within the limits of its territory; and it can be present in the community of nations.
The sovereign state may, however, of its own accord and without giving up its sovereignty, agree to limit its scope or to delegate part of it in certain specific fields.
Thus, for two states linked by an agreement or parties to an association, the joint exercise of their sovereignty would necessarily be reflected in reciprocal concessions. In the case that concerns us, any limitation that Quebec would agree to impose on the exercise of its sovereignty would entail, in return, the corresponding limitation, accepted by Canada, of its own sovereignty.
In a federal system, sovereignty is shared by two powers one of which, the central power, has priority. Consequently, citizens are ruled by two governments, two sets of laws and two court systems; there are two kinds of elections, one to elect the central parliament (the House of Commons, in Ottawa) the other to elect a local parliament (the National Assembly, in Quebec); there are also two taxation systems. On the other hand there is a single customs tariff, a single currency and a single international personality.
Under the formula proposed by the Government of Quebec, sovereignty of the State of would reside entirely in Quebec, so that Quebecers would be ruled by a single government and would pay taxes only to Quebec. Because of the association, Quebec and Canada would continue to share a single customs tariff and single currency. Each partner, however, would have its own international personality.
In legal terms, the difference between the two formulas could be stated this way: at present, the relations between Quebec and Canada are ruled by a Constitution that divides powers between two governments, only one of which, the federal government, has an international personality; in the formula proposed by the Government of Quebec, both Quebec and Canada would have an international personality, and their relations would be ruled not by a constitution, but by a treaty of association. While the present situation of Quebec in relation to Ottawa resembles that of the states of Maine or Illinois in relation to Washington, within the framework of an association it would be more like that of France or Holland in relation to the European Common Market, with certain important differences.
Any comparison, though, has its faults. The United States or the Common Market arose out of needs and situations that do not necessarily correspond to those of Quebec and Canada today, and the same can be said of all associations that have been attempted throughout the world until now. Very different political formulas and structures correspond to diverse experience, and none represents a model made to measure. Although the best known reorganization and association experiment, that of Europe, is often evoked in the present document, this does not mean that the proposal of the Quebec government is totally based on it, as though it were a prototype that could be imported here, particularly since the European experiment is far from complete.
Types of Association
The economic association of sovereign states may assume many forms, according to the combination of shared elements and total sovereignty that is selected. Sharing a certain number of elements may be carried out through legal, statutory or institutional arrangements as numerous as they are varied, so that between the state almost free of any ties and the national community almost completely eclipsed by a larger state there is an infinite number of intermediary situations and possible arrangements. It is customary to distinguish four general integration formulas, from the least restrictive to the most complete: the free trade zone, the customs union, the common market and the monetary union.
Forms of Association
- In general, a free trade zone is defined as a geographical area composed of sovereign states within which goods can move freely. The sovereign states that constitute such zones do not have to be geographical neighbours, as is the case in the European Free Trade Association. In such cases, no customs are levied between participating countries and each decides freely on its own trade policy towards non-member countries. A free trade zone can be total, or it can include the right to resort to certain measures, administrative measures for instance, that restrict its scope in some areas. Aside from such distinctions, we can say that if Canada and Quebec opted for such a formula there would be no customs to pay on goods going from Quebec to Canada or from Canada to Quebec. On the other hand, both Quebec and Canada would remain free to establish the tariff barriers and commercial policies toward other countries which would appear desirable to them.
- The customs union is defined as the area formed by sovereign states within which customs barriers have been suppressed and which has established a single trade policy and a uniform tariff toward third countries. In practice, such a formula can tolerate certain specific arrangements aimed at taking into account, temporarily or on a long-term basis, certain specific situations. The general formulas covered by the term customs union differ from the free trade zone in that they include, to a certain extent, the adoption of a common trade policy toward non-members. In general terms, if Quebec and Canada opted for a customs union, they would accept the free flow of goods within the present boundaries of Canada and would maintain a single tariff toward the rest of the world.
- A common market is the space formed by sovereign states within which goods, people and capital can flow freely, this zone being linked to the rest of the world by a single tariff and trade policy. Here again, the formula allows for many varied arrangements according to regions, areas of activity, time, etc. If such special arrangements are substantial, the formula is sometimes called an imperfect common market. This is the case at present of Canada, due particularly to provisions regarding agricultural products, oil products and railway tariffs. Moreover, Canada is not a real common market because it is not made up of sovereign states. Should Quebec and Canada together create a more or less perfect common market, they would have to replace existing federal institutions by truly joint institutions.
- A monetary union, finally, is defined as the area formed by sovereign states within which goods, people and capital flow freely, this zone on the one hand being linked to rest of the world by a single trade and tariff policy and, on the other hand, possessing a single currency and hence the same monetary policy. Here again, the transformation of Canada into a true Quebec-Canada monetary union would mean replacing present federal monetary institutions by joint institutions.
The Special Character of the Québec-Canada Relationship
The examples cited above show the great variety in the types of association entered into by many sovereign peoples throughout the world; no less different are the historical circumstances that led these people to such varied solutions. Quebec too has evolved in circumstances that are specific to it, circumstances which, while they have certain analogies with some of the cases cited above, cannot be reduced to any one of them. The institutions and the functioning of the future association between Quebec and Canada must reflect what is specific to each of the communities.
Most of the countries now grouped in various associations enjoyed sovereignty long before they joined together, while those that associated a few decades ago did so at a time when the state did not yet occupy as large a place in the economic activity of nations. On the one hand, Quebec has not yet gained its sovereignty, while on the other hand, the institutions of the state, because of the size of their expenditures at all levels of government, play a considerable economic and social role in Quebec as well as in the rest of Canada.
Given the situation of our two communities, and because the economic space that Canada and Quebec share must be both preserved and developed, the Quebec government wants to propose to the rest of Canada that the two communities remain in association, not only in a customs union or a common market but in a monetary union as well. Thus Canada can be preserved intact as an economic entity, while Quebec can assume all the powers it needs as a nation to ensure its full development. Replacing federalism by association will, in effect, maintain economic exchange, but the nature of political and legal relations between Quebec and Canada will be changed.
For a proper understanding of the formula proposed by the Government of Quebec, we will describe how it will function by examining the powers that will be exercised by Quebec and specifying the extent of the association between Quebec and Canada; we will also say a word about the Quebec-Canada community structures that must be provided for.
We hasten to state that the changes described here will not occur overnight after the Referendum, but will be, can only be, the result of negotiations between Quebec and Canada, negotiations that will be started as a result of a positive answer in the Referendum. In the next chapter we will explain how the proposed formula will be gradually implemented.
Through sovereignty, Quebec would acquire, in addition to the political powers it already -has, those now exercised by Ottawa, whether they were assigned to the federal government under the British North America Act of 1867 or whether it assumed them since that time, directly or indirectly.
Sovereignty is the power to levy all taxes, to make all laws and to be present on the international scene; it is also the possibility to share freely, with one or more states, certain national powers. Sovereignty for Quebec, then, will have a legal impact on the power to make laws and to levy taxes, on territorial integrity, on citizenship and minorities, on the courts and various other institutions, and on the relations of Quebec with other countries.
For each of these subjects, the government wishes to define as clearly as possible the position it intends to adopt in its negotiations with the rest of Canada.
- Laws and Taxes - The only laws that will apply on Quebec's territory will be those adopted by the National Assembly, and the only taxes that will be levied will be those decreed by Quebec law. In this way, there will be an end to the overlapping of federal and Quebec services, which has been so often denounced, thereby enabling Quebec to control the totality of its fiscal resources. Existing federal laws will continue to apply as Quebec laws, as long as they are not amended, repealed or replaced by the National Assembly.
- Territory - Quebec has an inalienable right over its territory, recognized even in the present Constitution, which states that the territory of a province cannot be modified without the consent of that province. Moreover, since the agreements were reached on James Bay, there no longer is any lien on any part of the Quebec territory. In becoming sovereign, Quebec, as is the rule in international law, will thus maintain its territorial integrity. Moreover, it would be desirable for Quebec to regain the advantages that would normally come to it from its geographical position, putting an end to the uncertainties that have surrounded the issue of jurisdiction over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador and the Arctic regions.
- Citizenship - The Quebec government gives its solemn commitment that every Canadian who, at the time sovereignty is achieved, is a resident of Quebec, or any person who was born there, will have an automatic right to Quebec citizenship; the landed immigrant will be able to complete residency requirements and obtain citizenship. The Parliament of Canada will have to decide whether Canadians who become Quebec citizens may maintain their Canadian citizenship as well. Quebec, for its part, would have no objection. Any person who is born in a sovereign Quebec will have the right to Quebec citizenship; the same will hold true for any person born abroad of a father or mother who has Quebec citizenship. Quebec citizenship will be recognized by a distinct passport, which does not rule out the possibility of an agreement with Canada on a common passport, since the two states will have close relations, of a community nature, that may cover many subjects. Canadian citizens will enjoy the same rights in Quebec as Quebec citizens enjoy in Canada. The acquired rights of foreign nationals will also be fully recognized.
- The Minorities - The government pledges that Quebec's Anglophone minority will continue to enjoy the rights now accorded it by law, and that other communities in Quebec will be given the means to develop their cultural resources. The Amerindian and Inuit communities, if they so desire, will be in full possession on their territory of institutions that maintain the integrity of their societies and enable them to develop freely, according to their own culture and spirit. As for Francophone minorities in Canada, Quebec intends to fulfil its moral responsibilities towards them, as it has started to do, for that matter, despite its limited means.
- The Courts - Naturally, the Quebec courts will be the only ones to ad minister justice in Quebec. All judges will be appointed in accordance with Quebec laws, and judges who are now on the bench will remain in their functions. However, a joint court, constituted through the treaty of association between Quebec and Canada, will have the power to interpret this treaty and decide on the rights that result from it.
- External Relations - Quebec will continue to be bound by the treaties to which Canada is now a signatory. It may withdraw from them should the occasion arise according to the rules of international law. Consequently, Quebec will respect the agreement on the St. Lawrence Seaway and will become a full partner in the International Joint Commission. As for alliances such as NATO and NORAD, Quebec will respect its responsibilities and offer its contributions in accordance with its aims. In order to fully play its role on the international scene and defend its interests, Quebec will ask to be admitted to the United Nations and to its specialized agencies. Finally, while developing its relations and its cooperation with Francophone countries, Quebec will consider remaining a member of the British Commonwealth.
In today's world no nation, great or small, can live in isolation. Interdependence, considering the economic advantages that it brings, far from being as constraining as some seem to think, can on the contrary result in enriching forms of cooperation and interaction, and thus improve the present and future lot of the societies taking part.
Quebec has never wanted to live in isolation: from the start it has accepted interdependence. However, it wishes to ensure that it will be directly involved in determining the terms of this interdependence.
To this end, the Quebec government intends to offer to negotiate with the rest of Canada a treaty of community association, whose aim will be, notably, to maintain the present Canadian economic entity by ensuring continuity of exchange and by favouring, in the long run, a more rapid and better balanced development of each of the two partners.
This treaty will have an international status and will bind the parties in a manner and for a term to be determined. It will define the partners' areas of common activity and confirm the maintenance of an economic and monetary union between Quebec and the rest of Canada. It will also determine the areas where agreement on goals will be considered desirable. Finally, it will establish the rules and institutions that will ensure the proper functioning of the Quebec-Canada community, and determine its methods of financing.
Areas of Common Action
(a) The Free Circulation of Goods
In order to ensure the free circulation of goods, the present situation in Quebec and Canada will be maintained, and each party will renounce any right to customs barriers at common borders. With regard to foreign countries, the partners will jointly establish the tariff protection they deem necessary, taking into account the short and long-term interests of each of the parties, and multilateral agreements in the areas of trade and customs tariffs.
However, Quebec will insist that the protection and development of its agricultural production be the object of special agreements.
Finally, the two States will take the necessary steps to guarantee free competition within their market and will abstain from any discriminatory fiscal measure towards each other's products.
(b) Monetary Union
The dollar will be maintained as the only currency having legal tender, and real or liquid assets as well as letters of credit will continue to be expressed in dollars. Circulation of capital will be free, but each party will be entitled to proclaim an investment code or to adopt, if need be, particular regulations applicable to certain financial institutions.
(c) The Free Circulation of People
In order to ensure the free circulation of people from one territory to the other, the two States will give up their right to impose a regular police control at their common border. It goes without saying that no passport will be required between Quebec and Canada.
Areas of Mutual Understanding
To ensure the proper functioning of the monetary and economic community, the two parties will agree on certain goals and types of legislation. This will be the case, notably, in the area of transportation, where it will be possible to make special agreements for railways, air transportation, and inland navigation; such agreements could also provide for joint management of public carriers such as Air Canada and Canadian National, for example.
The two States will negotiate special agreements on the regulations governing the labour market and the right to elect domicile.
The two parties will also consider of common interest policies inspired by current trends, and steps to be taken to ensure the equilibrium of the balance of payments and a stable currency. To this end, they will consult each other as well as the agencies responsible for the proper functioning of the union so as to adopt, when needed, measures provided for in the treaty of association.
Such efforts could be extended to several other areas in particular defence-since Quebec is firmly convinced not only of the advantages, but also of the necessity of an open policy of cooperation.
C. Community Institutions
There will obviously have to be negotiations on the number, composition, authority, financing, operation and general nature of the community institutions that Canada and Quebec will have to create for the purposes of association. Whether inspired by foreign experiences or not, there are many possibilities. It is perfectly normal that each one should be carefully evaluated, for, besides being efficient, these institutions must suit each of the partners. This is why it would be premature at this time to try to draw up once and for all, and impose on others, the final form of these new structures. There is room for discussion, open-mindedness and creative reflection.
We must not forget that these community institutions, whatever their final shape, can not actually be set up until agreement is reached not only upon the institutions themselves, but on a number of other subjects as well for instance, the schedule for transferring resources and constitutional responsibilities from Ottawa to Quebec. These institutions will have to be discussed at the same time as other subjects, but since their role will be to manage the joint areas shared by Quebec and Canada, they cannot be set up before there is an agreement about these joint areas, of which they will be the culminating point. Meanwhile, existing federal institutions will be, maintained.
It cannot be ruled out, however, that certain existing federal institutions - the Bank of Canada, for instance or other existing structures - such as certain interprovincial organizations,-may be modified, as least as far as Quebec participation is concerned, so as to give them a community character.
In effect, setting up a monetary and economic union will be made easier by the fact that, within Canadian federalism, as we have mentioned, there already exists a free trade area, a common tariff towards other countries, and a single currency. From that point, the task will consist more in maintaining the union than in creating it, and from the outset it will be possible to rely on what already exists.
The Legal Equality of the Partners
However, the fact that there are only two partners, unequal demographically and economically, will certainly raise some difficulties in the course of the negotiations.
If, for the purposes of this presentation, it is taken for granted that Canada, maintaining its federal structure, is represented in the union by the Canadian central government, it is not impossible, however, that certain provinces will demand to be parties on the Canadian side of the association-to which, of course, Quebec has no objection.
In an association between two partners, some fundamental subjects must naturally be subjected to parity, otherwise one of the parties would be at the mercy of the other. That does not mean, however, that in everyday practice everything will be subject to a double veto. Certain institutions of the union (the monetary authority, for instance) would, on the contrary, enjoy a large measure of autonomy of management. Their areas of action (such as customs and currency) are, in any case, subject to strong international constraints which, all told, leave little leeway. Taking into account a situation that is well established, in international trade and money matters, the search for parity should be no obstacle to the progress of the union.
It is perfectly possible, indeed, to provide for special cases where the predominant interest of one of the parties would be recognized: Canada could have a decisive voice insofar as wheat is concerned, and Quebec in the area of asbestos. Thus there is a whole range of possibilities which will be the object of studies and negotiations according to the interests of each party. The fundamental legal equality of the partners does not rule out some flexibility in the manner in which the community will function. It is the negotiation of a treaty of association which, by establishing legal equality, will make it possible to discover the mechanisms best suited to ensuring the success of the whole association.
The operation of the union and its agencies will be financed by the contributions of each partner, and the method for drawing up the union budget and sharing the load will be determined by the treaty of association.
A Proposed Plan
The Quebec government believes that, in general, it will be better to avoid increasing the number of community agencies, even if the areas composing the association are both numerous and important. This is why the government proposes only four community agencies which, in certain cases, could-as we have said originate in existing federal institutions that will be adapted for the purposes of the association (such as the monetary authority or the court of justice).
The Quebec government favours the establishment of four Quebec-Canada agencies:
- a community council
- a commission of experts
- a court of justice
- a monetary authority
The COUNCIL will be made up of ministers from Quebec and Canada acting on instructions from their respective governments. The representatives of Canada may be chosen by both Ottawa and the provinces. Chaired alternately by a Canadian and a Quebecer, the Council would meet at fixed dates, or according to need. It will have decision-making powers on matters entrusted to it by the treaty of association, and decisions pertaining to fundamental issues will require the agreement of both Quebec and Canada. Negotiations after the Referendum will determine what questions are deemed to be fundamental. Some are already obvious: broadening the scope of the treaty of association or an increase in the terms of reference of community agencies for instance.
As for the COMMISSION OF EXPERTS, whose mandate will be defined by the treaty of association, it will be composed of Quebec and Canadian specialists chosen for their competence and appointed for a limited period of time. It will act as the general secretariat of the community and will be subject to the guidelines of the council. In addition to 'supporting and advising the council members, it will be responsible for establishing technical liaison with the international bodies concerned in matters of customs and trade, and for negotiating the international agreements that will bind the community on those subjects. These agreements will then be approved and signed by the council of the community.
The COURT OF JUSTICE will comprise an equal number of judges appointed for a limited period of time by Quebec and by Canada, and a chairman chosen jointly by the two States. It will have exclusive jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of the treaty of association; its decisions will be final and binding to both parties.
The central MONETARY AUTHORITY will be chaired alternately by a governor named by each government; the number of seats allocated to each party on the board of directors will be proportional to the relative size of each economy.
However the operation of this institution requires some explanation.
First, and despite the fact that Quebec and Canada will have the same currency, it will be necessary to make certain changes in the central bank-which we now call the Bank of Canada-to take Quebec sovereignty into account.
A central bank plays several roles, and it is important to examine them in order to distinguish between those that must remain joint and those that could be separated: its first role is the creation of money; its second is to act on the rate of exchange; the third consists in managing the placing and distribution of the public debt; the fourth, finally, whose importance varies from country to country, is to act as the government's banker, by opening an account for it through which transit all or part of government payments and deposits.
Since Canada and Quebec will have a single currency, the first two functions must be joint: indeed, it is impossible to imagine that Canada would accelerate the creation of money, while Quebec, fearing inflation, for example, was seeking to stabilize its money supply. The only result of such contradictory attitudes would be to cause the rate of interest to go down in Canada, and up in Quebec: funds would move from Canada to Quebec, so that the gap would close rapidly. For financial and money markets, in our time and in free countries, are like communicating vessels. Though it is possible to imagine certain disagreements concerning monetary policy between two countries that have a single currency, they cannot be very pronounced. In the same way, the rate of exchange for the dollar must come under a single authority, for it would be unthinkable that Canada seek to make it go down, while Quebec was trying to make it go up.
The two other functions, on the other hand, can very well be distinct for each State. As a province, Quebec has always had the right to manage its debt and direct its financial operations as it wished: there is no reason for it to lose these powers once it becomes sovereign.
If other formulas are equally possible, the following system can nevertheless be imagined: both Quebec and Canada would have its own central bank, each one exercising the third and fourth functions of such an institution; for the exercise of the two first functions, those banks would be placed under the monetary authority, which would have decision-making powers and have a twofold jurisdiction over the two central banks: to determine the changes that each of them would make to the reserves of the chartered banks (and, if need be, savings and credit cooperatives) and the transactions that each would have on the foreign exchange market.
In case of conflict between the two governments on the orientation to be given monetary policy or foreign exchange policy, the community council would be called upon to examine the dispute and find a way to resolve it, since it would have the power to give guidelines to the monetary authority.
It may be useful to recall that the existence of several central banks, coordinated by a body with responsibility for overseeing monetary policy and foreign exchange policy, corresponds to the American formula which, however, differs from the formula proposed here insofar as in the United States, central banks are regional and cover the territory of several states that are not sovereign. The American experience nevertheless shows the possibility of conducting the operations of central banks at two different levels.
A Community Parliament?
Within certain associations of sovereign states, either an interparliamentary assembly formed of members chosen among the deputies elected to the parliaments of the member states, or a parliament elected directly by the population are sometimes found. Nowhere, however, do such assemblies have legislative powers or powers of taxation that they can increase on their own initiative.
In Europe, after many years, a European parliament with limited responsibilities has finally been created; its members are elected directly by the populations of the participating countries. Some people have concluded, from this particular experience by the Common Market, that Europe was heading toward a federal system similar to what Canada now has. This is not the case: the similarities between the European parliament and the House of Commons in Ottawa are very few, and their respective powers are not comparable. Moreover, taking into account the increasing number of members in the European Community and the obvious desire of member states not to alienate their national sovereignty, it would be rash to claim that the Europe of tomorrow will be federal, when there is nothing to indicate that it is entering on such a road.
In any case, the Quebec government does not, think it is advisable to propose establishing a parliamentary assembly, believing instead that it is preferable for the members of the Community Council to remain, politically, responsible to the parliament where they sit; this will enable the democratic control we are familiar with to be extended in this way to the functioning of the Quebec-Canada community itself.
If the rest of Canada proposed an interparliamentary assembly, formed of members chosen among the members elected to the parliaments of the member states, the Quebec government would have no objection to examining this proposal.
Sovereignty-Association: a Means
The outline of sovereignty-association that we have just set forth does not, admittedly, answer every question this formula might pose in terms of certain specific areas. This is why we will in another chapter evoke the perspectives for the future which sovereignty-association will open to Quebec in the areas of economic, cultural and social policy, as well as in its relations with the world.
For the time being, it is important to remember that if, from the government's point of view, sovereignty-association is a necessary formula for the future, its necessity comes above all from the fact that it will enable Quebecers to manage their own affairs freely and use as they wish the instruments sovereignty will give them.
Sovereignty-association, in short, is not an end in itself, but a means.
Chapter Five. The Referendum
In the preceding chapter, the Quebec government proposed a new constitutional formula to resolve the deadlock in which the people of Quebec find themselves and which increasingly limits their freedom and legitimate aspirations. It now proposes a different measure, the REFERENDUM, the implications and meaning of which we will now examine.
In their negotiations with Ottawa and the other provinces, Quebec political leaders have always conducted themselves as faithful spokesmen of their compatriots. If one is to judge on the basis of electoral trends, polls and scientific surveys, it seems indeed that the positions of Quebec governments in the past fairly accurately reflected public opinion, which may explain the continuity that can be seen from one government to the other.
Never, however, have Quebecers been invited to express their opinion formally on a constitutional issue, separately from any other consideration. Election campaigns have dealt, at least in part, with federal-provincial themes, but no one has ever been able to analyse precisely the motives of voters: did they vote for a constitutional program, an economic policy, or were they seduced by the personality of a leader? Thus it was-and still is-easy for Ottawa to claim that the Quebec government's constitutional stands have not proceeded from the popular will; on the other hand, the presence in both the House of Commons and the National Assembly of representatives from Quebec elected by the same citizens has made it possible to interpret a vote-whether federalist or autonomist - in ways that the voter himself had not necessarily thought of.
The great value of the coming Referendum is that for the first time the voice of Quebecers will be heard, after due reflection and without ambiguity, on a single question: the kind of relations they would like to see develop between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
A. The Implications of the Referendum
The political implications of the referendum will be considerable: it will no longer be just the members of the government or the opposition expressing themselves in the constitutional debate; the entire population will play an active role, so that neither Ottawa nor the rest of Canada will any longer be able to say that Quebec's positions are the positions of the political party, whichever it may be, that electoral chances have temporarily brought to power.
Thus the Referendum, by directly involving citizens in a debate that has always been the preserve of politicians, will add to the Quebec-Ottawa dispute an element of greater consequence, more decisive than all the files and protest meetings and public statements which so far have brought no results: the democratically expressed will of Quebecers.
This is the main objective of the Referendum.
The reactions from Ottawa and the other provinces, since 1976, clearly show how profoundly recourse to the referendum technique will change the bases and conditions of the Canadian political debate. Quebec's answer to the Referendum cannot simply be put into the constitutional file, as one document among-- hundreds of others-, on- the contrary, the decisive importance of that step is obvious, and it cannot be denied it is essential that it be taken into account.
Opponents of the Referendum, aware that a positive answer, democratically expressed under the eyes of the international community, would force Ottawa and the rest of Canada to react in the same democratic way in an attempt to avoid embarrassment, have devoted themselves to convincing Quebecers that a positive answer would be useless since, in their opinion, the rest of Canada would never agree to negotiate the implementation of sovereignty-association.
Many English-Canadian personalities, politicians and others, tell anyone who will listen that they will categorically refuse to negotiate. This is quite fair, though rather crude. We must not be taken in by it but must, on the contrary, convince ourselves that if the majority of Quebecers say YES in the Referendum, Ottawa and the rest of Canada, though they will be disappointed, will have no choice: they will negotiate.
The Need to Negotiate
A poll sponsored by the CBC, and made public in March 1979, showed that 50% of respondents in the nine Anglophone provinces think English Canada should agree to negotiate with Quebec if a majority opts for sovereignty-association; 41% were opposed.
A survey of Canadian decision-makers carried out by York University in May 1979, for the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council, showed that the majority of Canadian leaders agree that the rest of Canada should be prepared to negotiate an economic agreement with a sovereign Quebec. According to the report on the survey:
"( ... ) The strongly conciliatory feelings among civil servants and non-governmental leaders on the issue of negotiating an economic agreement-more specifically the consent of most managers and large firms whose role may, finally, be the most important one in resolving the problem-seem to indicate that the process of bargaining and compromise may be more flexible than official political rhetoric would lead us to believe."
Indeed, according to this enquiry, in the other provinces 52% of the managers of large firms, 61% of mayors and municipal councillors, 68% of federal deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers, 67% of provincial deputy ministers, 63% of union leaders, 67% of academics and, finally, 59% of the general public state that English Canada must be ready to negotiate an economic agreement if Quebec becomes independent.
Thus it is important to make a very clear distinction between, on the one hand, the official positions taken prior to the Referendum by certain political leaders in English Canada in order to shake Quebecers psychologically and, on the other hand, the choices that must made in the future, choices that must take into account both the decision reached by Quebecers and the interests involved on both sides.
When they forget strategy and face the situation squarely, politicians speak quite differently from the colleagues to whom we have just alluded. For example, David Crombie, former mayor of Toronto and now a federal cabinet minister, stated: "The Federal Government should negotiate sovereignty-association with Quebec Premier René Lévesque who is after a deal with honor think anyone who refuses to negotiate is silly." (Canadian Press, January 1979)
Mr. Crombie was not the only one to express publicly what is on the minds of many English Canadians. The Premier of New Brunswick, Richard Hatfield-even though he has since take a different stance,-gave his opinion to the Canadian Press, in a communiqué published November 7, 1977:
"We will have to negotiate if Quebecers declare themselves in favour of sovereignty-association. The federal government will have to negotiate a complete change in the constitution."
Mr. Hatfield dismissed as "negative initiatives" ... the statements of Canadian politicians who say there can be no question of accepting an economic association with a sovereign Quebec"
As for former Prime Minister Trudeau, he had already stated on the CTV network:
"If Quebecers by an overwhelming majority decide they no longer want to be part of this country, ... I will not make them change their minds by force of law. I do say that somebody will have to sit down and negotiate with them, and it won't be me." (The Gazette, January 3, 1978)
" ... if Quebec residents said yes to a Parti Québécois referendum, negotiations would be mandatory. When a people to that extent say they want independence, then we have to sit down and talk." (Canadian Press, April 23,1979)
As for the members of the Pepin-Robarts Task Force, they toured Canada gathering the opinions of Canadians in all regions. This is what they had to say in their report:
"Given a community of the size and character of Quebec society, we believe that the clearly expressed will of the population must prevail, and that it would be both unwise and ethically questionable to deny or thwart it. Practically speaking, this means the renunciation of the use of force to maintain the integrity of the Canadian state and a commitment to seek to construct political institutions which reflect the will and aspirations of the citizens concerned. We believe most Canadians and virtually all of the country's leaders would share our view" (A Future Together, January 1979, p. 113)
In an interview on Radio-Canada's Té1éjournal, on January 26, 1979, Mr. Jean-Luc Pepin gave this answer to the reporter:
"Question: Does the Canadian population, and do the politicians agree to negotiate if Quebec answers YES in the referendum? J.-L. Pepin: I think that is understood; I think it is very clear".
Finally, on September 10, 1979, in an interview on Radio Quebec, Prime Minister Joe Clark made the following statements:
"Question: Mr. Prime Minister, if the majority of Quebecers vote YES in the referendum, YES to sovereignty-association, will you be forced to negotiate with the Quebec government? Mr. Clark: I have to negotiate with Quebec today. Federalism is negotiation. I have negotiated with Quebec and with Ontario, it is a constant occupation for a Prime Minister. Question: So you will not refuse to negotiate with the Quebec government if the PQ gets a massive YES in the referendum? Mr. Clark: Yes or no, I will be there to negotiate." (Radio-Quebec, September 10, 1979)
Those Canadian citizens and leaders are realists; they recognize, among other things, the importance of the economic links between Quebec and the rest of Canada, and that it is much better to maintain them than to break and split up markets. Quebec proposes specifically to maintain the existing economic entity rather than break it up.
Economic association, which some English-Canadian spokesmen say will automatically be rejected should there be a YES in the Referendum, already exists insofar as its essentials are concerned, as explained above, and the Quebec government does not challenge it. What it does propose, quite firmly, is to negotiate its structures and its decision-making processes. Under these circumstances, stating that there will be no economic association is tantamount to saying that English Canada is ready to get along without the Quebec market, that it will create its own separate currency to avoid sharing one with Quebec, and that the Maritimes will agree to having a customs barrier put up between them and Ontario! It would then be the rest of Canada that would reject the advantages of economic union.
The financial networks, resources and production of Quebec and the rest of Canada are to a large extent complementary. The Canadian economy has progressed by means of a common market, domestic regulations and common tariffs. Without a protective tariff, particularly with respect to the United States, Canada's industrial base and Ontario's in particular would be quite different from what exists today. Any refusal to maintain those gains, any attempt to break up that economic entity and that common market would go against common sense as well as the vital interests of the partners. This is the conclusion reached by experts who have studied the issue, among others economist Abraham Rotstein of the University of Toronto who stated in Le Devoir:
In Ontario there are no less than 105 800 jobs that depend directly on the Quebec market. Ontario firms export $4.6 billion worth of manufactured goods to Quebec every year... The unions and firms in our province will never risk adding 105 800 to the ranks of the unemployed by cutting off links with Quebec. Besides, those are the firms that are most interested in a monetary union with Quebec. They will do everything they can to avoid a devaluation of currency in Quebec. This would reduce considerably the value of the billions of dollars they have invested there (...)
According to data published in April by the Ontario government, the number of workers in the Maritimes whose incomes come from sales made in Quebec is said to be 9000. The Prairies sell $432 million of consumer goods to Quebec (mostly beef that they cannot sell elsewhere in America), thereby helping to maintain approximately 10 000 jobs. Finally, 3 000 jobs in British Columbia are related to exports to Quebec. In the opposite direction, the number of jobs in Quebec is almost identical." (Le Devoir, December 19,1977)
All studies on trade flows between the Canadian provinces published to date confirm this overlapping and this close complementarity.
In a document dealing with jobs in interprovincial trade, tabled at the time of the Budget Speech on April 19,1977, the Ontario government clearly established the importance for Ontario's industry of continuing to sell its products on the Quebec market. The following is particularly interesting:
"Ontario trade with Quebec accounted for 105 000 jobs, or nearly one half of those jobs in the province's manufacturing sector associated with interprovincial trade. When compared with jobs created in Quebec by manufacturing shipments to Ontario, however, the job creation effects of trade between the two provinces are roughly in balance."
All these analyses and studies, carried out in Quebec as well as English Canada, show clearly that it is in the best interest of Quebec and Canada to maintain the existing economic entity; it is hard to see why English Canada would decide to scuttle an important part of its economy-precisely the part for which it needs Quebec.
The Risks of a NO Answer
If statements about the possibility of a refusal to negotiate cannot, as we have just seen, justify a negative answer in the Referendum, it is still appropriate to ask what the consequences of such a negative answer would be for Quebec's future.
Presenting, perhaps almost unconsciously, virtually incoherent arguments, the same people and circles who for ten or twenty years have always opposed Quebec's constitutional aims within the present system now maintain that, if Quebecers give a negative answer in the Referendum, it would signal the beginning of in-depth reforms of Canadian federalism!-In short: "Say NO and we will say YES!"-The very same people who did not budge an inch in response to Quebecers' demands and who perhaps never even paid attention to them, people who, today, fear more than anything a YES vote in the Referendum, the very people who, in fact, admit that they were never disturbed in their constitutional certainties except by the election in November 1976 of a party that advocates sovereignty, are now unanimously trying to persuade Quebecers that they are ready for fundamental changes in the present system-but on two conditions: that no formal guarantee or too much precision is required of them in this respect, and that Quebecers once and for all stop challenging the present system!
If they get the NO they want, Ottawa and the rest of Canada , buoyed up by a sense of relief and a bit of simplification, would inevitably conclude that, although somewhat late in the game, Quebecers are resigned and prepared to accept the embrace the current federal system with no special demands, that they have finally chosen the status quo. This reaction is all the more likely because, within Quebec, the supporters of a NO vote will be unable to agree on a concrete formula for "renewed federalism". This unhoped for new turn of a repentant Quebec, in a direction so long desired outside our community, would be an unprecedented setback for Quebecers, from which they would have trouble recovering.
B. The Referendum Mandate
The present federation cannot be changed before Quebecers first choose their own approach: it is with this conviction and in this spirit that the Quebec government intends to submit its proposals to the rest of Canada. This is why it is asking the Quebec people for a mandate.
Why a Mandate?
By giving a positive answer in the Referendum, Quebecers will express their desire to reach a new political agreement with the rest of Canada based, this time, on the legal equality of the two peoples. A YES vote by Quebecers would thus be, in fact, a mandate given the Quebec government to make this new agreement a reality through negotiations. By its vote, the Quebec people will have clearly established the negotiations on the principle of Quebec's accession, in law and in fact, to the status of sovereign state, and association with Canada. Sovereignty cannot go without association: they are inseparable. This aim to be sure will not be achieved overnight, but a positive result in the Referendum will allow Quebec to embark on the road that leads to it.
Before becoming reality, sovereignty-association requires massive transfers to Quebec of powers and resources now located in Ottawa and it implies an overall and complex rearrangement of the traditional relations between Quebec and Ottawa; it is not limited to a mere juridical change or a partial amendment of the Constitution devoid of any administrative complications. It is clear, then, that sovereignty-association is the result of a political process in which negotiation will play a considerable role. Therefore the referendum question must touch on both the final objective (a new agreement) and the means to reach it (negotiations). Consequently, any unilateral declaration of sovereignty immediately after the Referendum is completely out of the question.
Once it obtains its mandate, with whom will Quebec negotiate? With Ottawa alone? With the other provinces? Or with representatives of all those governments?
And under whose direction would the various governments negotiate?
Ottawa may want to lead the negotiations, perhaps including provincial observers among the negotiators as it did in 1965, the year Quebec, alone among all the provinces, opted out of many joint programs.
It would be surprising if that formula was used now: in view of the considerable importance of the object of the negotiations, several, if not all the provinces, will want to establish officially their status as equal partners with Ottawa. Far from objecting to such a formula, Quebec believes it could make for a better discussion and avoid misunderstandings. If that were to happen, it would not be surprising if Ottawa wanted to maintain a general role vis-a-vis the rest of Canada, and perhaps even the decisive role of coordinator. As far as Quebec is concerned, it considers the federal presence indispensable, because of the powers and resources that must be transferred to it by the central government.
The Quebec government has always believed that it would take time to achieve the orderly and democratic constitutional change proposed. The transformation of the present federal system into an association between sovereign states can occur only through successive stages. The process proposed thus includes four major phases:
- a reflection phase
- a referendum phase
- a negotiation phase
- an implementation phase
Publication of this document is a decisive step in the phase of reflection and consultation to which all citizens are invited, so that they will know the exact content of what they will be asked to decide upon. In the coming months everyone (political parties, associations, groups, citizens) will have plenty of time to become acquainted with the government's position, to evaluate it, discuss it and form a clear idea of it.
This phase should also enable those who oppose the proposed change to define how they see the future of Canadian federalism, for it is important that when Quebecers make their choice they have a good idea of the options. In this respect, it is to be hoped that the federalist positions will be precise and that they will be made public soon enough to give Quebecers ample time to think about them.
After this period of reflection and general debate will come the phase of the Referendum proper, of which the major stages have already been determined by the June 1978 Referendum Act. Early in February 1980, the National Assembly should begin the debate-which is limited by law to thirty-five hours-on a motion by the Prime Minister proposing the adoption of the text of the question to be submitted to the voters. The text of this question, as the government has pledged, will be revealed before the end of this year, so that no one will be taken by surprise at the time of the debate, at the end of which it will be adopted.
The final form of the question will depend in part on the period of reflection and debate of the next few months, but it can be stated immediately that, in substance, it will bear on the government's project. As the government has pledged, the question will be a clear one, requiring a "yes" or "no" answer.
Once the question is approved, the law provides for a minimum of twenty days before the referendum writs are issued. That period, which can be extended, will make possible the official creation of the national "yes" and "no" committees. It is expected that the writs will be issued around April or May, so that the vote will be held in May or June 1980.
(Note: The text of the question will be bilingual).
If the result of the Referendum is positive, there will be a period of negotiations with Ottawa and the rest of Canada. Then Quebec will have unprecedented power at its disposal, based for the first time on the clearly expressed will of the Quebec population. These negotiations should bear first on the repatriation to Quebec of those powers exercised by the federal Parliament, and on the transfer of the corresponding resources.
Negotiations will also bear on the nature of the Quebec-Canada association, its content (the powers to be distributed), institutions, rules of procedure and financing; other questions to be dealt with include territory, the protection of minorities, citizenship, the transfer of federal civil servants, the armed forces, etc.
As for the apportionment of the assets and debt of Canada and Quebec, there will have to be an agreement in principle, with detailed execution being put off perhaps to a later stage. Quebec will become the owner of federal installations and property located in Quebec; in return, Quebecers will give Lip their ownership rights to federal property and installations located outside Quebec, though they were partly paid for with their taxes.
(According to recent evaluations, less than 20% of the federal government's assets and corporations are located in Quebec: this fact could be taken into account in computing the value of the exchange.) The same rules that apply to assets will apply to apportioning the debt.
Thus there will be three or four negotiation "tables": for the transfer of powers and resources, the association and related issues, assets and the debt. Those "tables" could function simultaneously. It could happen that issues relating to the transfer of powers and resources will be solved more rapidly than the others, in view of the many files that already exist on the subject and the long experience of the two parties. In any case, all these negotiations will lead to the preparation of a treaty of association creating the Quebec-Canada community.
Once agreements have been reached with the rest of Canada, the Quebec government firmly commits itself to submitting them to the National Assembly for approval. It will also be necessary, together with Canada, to take the appropriate steps to make those agreements legally binding, and to amend the present constitutional texts as required.
The National Assembly will then be able to pass laws to adjust federal legislation to the new situation. Several federal laws will be maintained as Quebec laws, but certain adaptations will be required, notably in order to determine what authority will be responsible for their implementation.
It is also necessary to ensure that during the period of transfer of powers the population does not to suffer any decrease in government services. The transition must be planned in the preceding phase so as to avoid upsetting the operation of the administration. That will require agreement on a schedule for the transfers and a gradual establishment of the various services involved.
The Government of Quebec, not wanting any individual to be deprived of his or her rights as a result of this constitutional change, pledges to maintain acquired rights - allowances, pensions, services or jobs-notably:
(a) family allowances
(b) old age pensions and supplements
(c) veterans pensions
(d) direct subsidies to farmers
(e) job security for Quebecers in the federal civil service and federal crown corporations
(f) all other rights resulting from circumstances that are recognized at present
The government also promises federal civil servants, if they are residents of Quebec and so wish, that they will be integrated into the Quebec civil service without financial loss to them as powers and resources are transferred from Ottawa to Quebec. In this way their salaries and social benefits will be maintained. The transfer of their pension fund will be negotiated with Canada by broadening the scope of the existing agreement; the same will apply to the rights of retired civil servants.
The maintenance or creation, in the Hull region, of a considerable number of jobs in appropriate public bodies will allow the civil servants in that region to continue working there. As for the Quebec members of the armed forces, they will be integrated into Quebec units, under the terms of the treaty of association.
It will Take Time
It is obvious that the process the Quebec government is beginning with this document will not be completed for some years. Time is needed if we want to progress methodically and respect the democratic principles which are the very basis of our society.
Chapter Six. Quebec, Land of the Future
In one of the outstanding documents of our time, the Club of Rome clearly identified the essential conditions for progress in modern societies: according to this prestigious body, the future belongs to countries whose population is young and well educated, which have abundant natural resources and which specialize in international exchanges.
We, in Quebec, have the resource s, the talent and the knowledge enabling us to assume, quite calmly, control of our own affairs and to meet the challenges of our general growth, notably in the economic area. For this, we hold trump cards, which might even be called exceptional.
Why then should we be content with an inferior political status?
A Young, Competent, Educated Nation
We are a young and educated people. In less than a generation, we have completely transformed our educational system; among the least educated twenty years ago, we are now in the front ranks of the industrialized countries. Today, our colleges and universities produce graduates by the thousands.
Our work force is competent and efficient. Various studies have shown that the Quebec worker is often prouder and more industrious than other North Americans.
In science and technology, Quebec has made giant strides thanks to its laboratories and research centres, and many of our consulting engineering firms excel in their field; three of the top ten such firms in the entire world are Quebec enterprises!
In the past few years, the dynamic progress of our regions and the birth of many new enterprises has given the lie to the old cliché about Quebecers' lack of entrepreneurship; increasingly, our firms have been joining forces so as to make a better contribution to the expansion of our economy.
Quebecers are well known, too, for their inclination to save, and thanks to their savings, they now have a significant supply of capital; the extraordinary success of our credit and savings cooperatives, as well as our insurance companies, provides eloquent proof of that. The Caisses populaires Desjardins (Desjardins credit unions) and the Caisses d'économie (savings unions) have more than four million members, and assets of more than $10 billion; in twelve years, the total assets of the Caisses d'Entraide économique (economic credit unions) went from one million to more than a billion dollars. Moreover, by creating a universal pension plan we have been able to increase our collective savings considerably: the Caisse de dépot et de placement (deposit and investment fund) now ranks among the largest investment companies in Canada in terms of size and the variety of its holdings. As for Hydro-Quebec, its assets make it the biggest firm of any kind in Canada and one of the largest producers and distributors of electricity in North America.
We are already a rich country. In 1978, our per capita Gross Domestic Product ranked Quebec 14th among 150 countries in the world.7 This is neither a matter of chance, the result of some political system nor some magnanimous gift from outside; our standard of living is based essentially on our wealth of resources, on our advantageous geographical position, close to rich markets, and on the stimulating effect of the North American environment.
And our country is vast; Quebec ranks 16th in area among the 150-odd countries in the world. It is true that it has only six million inhabitants, but standard of living has nothing to do with the size of a population. Some highly populated countries, such as the United States, France and the Federal Republic of Germany, enjoy high standards of living, but it is striking and noteworthy that five of the six richest countries in the world, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Belgium, have a population of less than ten million, as does Quebec. On the other hand, countries with the largest populations are often the poorest.
Abundant Natural Resources
Few Western countries have natural resources comparable to those of Quebec. Several of our forward thrusts in the industrial field are the direct result of our having on our territory abundant resources which, moreover, we process ourselves, in particular, pulp and paper, basic metals and metal products, electrical equipment and, soon, asbestos. Moreover, our electric potential allows us to manufacture locally very substantial quantities of aluminum, for which we import the raw material. All this industrial activity, which is bound to be profitable in view of the abundant supply of resources, at competitive prices, constitutes the cornerstone of our growth, past and future. Although all around the world the increasing scarceness of natural resources threatens to slow down the expansion of many nations, Quebec can only reap the benefit of a situation that every day increases the value of basic resources.
By changing its political status Quebec would not change the laws of trade. By entering into a new Canadian economic community, between equals, Quebec will not impoverish itself, nor will it impoverish the rest of Canada which also has great resources, since the present Canadian economic entity will be maintained. On the contrary, by taking the direction of its economy in hand, Quebec will be able to contribute more actively to the progress of the economic community. As in the past, of course, Quebecers will not be able to help themselves to the natural resources of other provinces; British Columbia's wood, Saskatchewan's potash, Alberta's oil, Quebec's asbestos and electricity belong to the citizens of those provinces. But natural resources are commodities; they can be bought and sold, in Canada as anywhere else. Quebec is one of the best endowed of all the Canadian provinces in that respect.
A Major Asset: Hydroelectric Energy
By far the greatest of Quebec's assets among its natural resources is its hydroelectric power. At a time of economic disturbance caused by the depletion of our energy resources, Quebec has an alternative to the scarcity and increasing costs of oil; indeed, within a few years, its hydroelectric power will make it self-sufficient for about 40% of its energy needs.
Our hydroelectric installations already allow us to produce 15 000 megawatts, to which 10 000 more will soon be added. This is an impressive achievement, considering that with conventional power plants 700 000 barrels of oil would be required to produce the same result. And those 700 000 barrels of oil per day are half of Alberta's production! Even more impressive: we still have at least as many megawatts to develop, 25 000 to be exact.
In view of the importance for industry of ample reserves of energy, Quebec is at a considerable advantage, thanks to hydroelectric power, that indefinitely renewable energy resource; 25 years from now, most of the present oil wells will be dry, but our rivers will continue to flow.
Beginning in 1983, according to the National Energy Board, the drying-up of Alberta resources will result in the gradual slowdown, then the complete cessation of deliveries of Alberta oil in Montreal. Moreover, following the increases decreed by the federal government, the price of crude in Canada will reach international levels in 1983 as well. There will be an end to the temporary system of subsidies for imported oil, which allowed the federal government to keep oil prices throughout Canada below the world price.
For Quebec, this means that in a few years it will have to return to the pre-1976 situation: crude oil for its refineries will come entirely from world markets and, wherever it comes from, its price will be the same in Quebec, in Canada and in other countries. In that respect, Quebec's situation will be no different from that of Ontario or most industrialized countries, notably the richest of them, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, which do not produce oil.
The Instruments of our Growth
We owe our progress to our own initiative, the resources of our territory, our institutions and the instruments of growth we have developed. Repatriating to Quebec all taxes and legislative and executive powers will remove, once and for all, the obstacles and circumstances that have checked our economic, social and cultural development. And the repatriation of all our powers will give new impetus to all our activities. Above all, it will give us a feeling of security we have not known so far. Controlling the life of our community, managing our resources, setting our own goals and priorities, we will be able to find the means and choose ourselves the best way to respond to our aspirations and direct, in a responsible manner, our life as a free and proud people.
A Prosperous Economy
Quebec's resources are permanent; we do not owe them to a political system, or to specific circumstances. They are a gift of nature, which has favoured us more than others in this respect by allowing us to play a more important economic role, thanks to our resources, at a time when other countries are seeing their role diminish.
We must now fully develop our resources and transform our economic potential into reality. The Quebec government intends to do just that, with the help of the people, first by acquiring the exclusive right to intervene in such fundamental areas as assistance to firms, transportation and taxation, fixing tariff rates, setting industrial standards and the management of access to energy resources; it will do this, too, through its increased ability to embark on ventures in the private sector, reach agreements in the industrial sector and take part directly in the support of Quebec firms on foreign markets.
Controlling all our fiscal resources for the first time, the government will be able to offer our firms a fiscal policy that will be adjusted to their needs, and encourage the expansion of our small and medium-sized firms and, where necessary, the establishment of big Quebec-based industrial complexes; in addition, it will devote several hundreds of millions more to buying Quebec products, whereas three-quarters of corporate taxation now depends on Ottawa and the money spent by the federal government to create jobs is, per capita, less in Quebec than in the other provinces.
Moreover, the Quebec government will have the means to help our business firms draw greater benefits from international exchanges.
The setting of tariffs on foreign products, the determination of product quotas, and negotiations with GATT-the international organization responsible for overseeing the rules of international trade-will no longer take place without Quebec's participation. Through community agencies, Quebec will become a full-fledged partner of Ottawa and will have its say in all discussions relating to foreign trade.
Quebec will also be better able to support the activities of Quebec companies abroad and to promote exports directly.
In agriculture, Quebec will be in a better position to pursue a policy aimed at diversifying production; to that end, it will put a stop to the specialization imposed by Ottawa in areas such as dairy farming where opportunities for expansion are limited. The goal of the government's strategy will be the optimum use of all our agricultural resources and increased self-sufficiency, thanks to a single agricultural credit system, a single marketing policy, and a single income stabilization program, perfectly adapted to the Quebec family farm.
As for transportation, an area where we have almost no influence, we will at last be able to develop a policy that will allow us to reap the advantages of our geographical location. We will pay special attention to natural (North-South) exchanges with the United States and reestablish Montreal as a hub of rail, air, coastal and ocean traffic systems. We will at last be able to put an end to disparities in railway tariffs that discriminate against Quebec users, create our own merchant marine, give new life to the St. Lawrence ports and negotiate with the United States and Canada for a less discriminatory tariff for use of the Seaway.
Having direct access to a central bank, the Quebec government will be able to reap the benefits of such an institution, for example profit sharing and the possibility of buying part of the bonds. On the other hand, Quebec bonds will qualify as part of the liquid assets of chartered banks operating in Quebec. In short, the Quebec government will be able to use its increased financial freedom to promote the interests of Quebecers.
Moreover, as partners in the monetary authority, we will be able, for the first time, to take part in the direction of a common monetary policy and ensure that it take into account the differences between the economic cycles of the various regions as well as, the general economic situation in Quebec.
Our Social Progress
In social affairs, once the costly and often contradictory government action we now know is eliminated, Quebec, controlling all its taxes, will be able to apportion more equitably the fruits of its economic growth so as to improve the lot of its most deprived citizens in particular.
The government, as we have seen, has pledged to maintain the acquired rights of people who, after powers are transferred, will be receiving federal allowances, pensions and supplements. However, while holding firm to that commitment, it will be possible to harmonize former federal programs with programs already managed by Quebec so as to create a coherent system of income security. Besides, by creating a supplementary income plan in 1979, the Quebec government has shown to what extent it is determined to make progress in that direction. Recovering all our taxes should enable the government to speed up the implementation of a complete guaranteed income program for all Quebecers.
Among other advantages, an integrated income policy will ensure a decent life for senior citizens whose income is now inadequate. Since the number of senior citizens is expected to double between now and the end of the century, we must prepare immediately for this far-reaching social transformation.
The involvement of women in economic growth, and the implementation of reforms and measures aimed at ensuring the real equality they so rightly demand, will be at the centre of our vision of society and of community development. This vital aspect of Quebec progress will be an element in the income security plan and the manpower policy Quebec adopts.
To the income security policy will be added an employment and manpower policy truly suited to our needs. In this area one of the great aims of federal policy so far has been to encourage interprovincial mobility, in order to increase the effects of its measures aimed at encouraging the growth of Ontario and the West. However, since Quebecers tend to be sedentary, or at least less interested than others in settling elsewhere in Canada, these federal programs have had little effect on our unemployment rates.
It will become possible-at last-to establish closer links between the requirements of the labour market on the one hand and vocational training of young people and adults, as well as the rehabilitation of welfare recipients, on the other hand. Education, vocational training, social rehabilitation, employment and mobility are all aspects of a single reality; entrusting them to a single authority could lead to an integrated, efficient policy on human resources.
Finally, the recovery of all powers over marriage, divorce and the courts will allow us to create true family courts, to update our family law and to recognize the equality of Quebec women in all areas.
The Development of Our Culture
The Quebec government is already playing a major role in preserving our cultural heritage and. making it known, but it lacks the proper tools, and must often make compromises with Ottawa, which has parallel programs. An entire area, one of the most important, is out of Quebec's control: radio, television and telecommunications.
Yet it is easy to understand that only Quebecers can provide for the flowering of their own culture. Until now, our own people have ensured progress in our teaching and our folklore, our crafts, our architecture and our overall cultural production. It would be quite natural if encouragement, stimulus and support were given them by the Quebec government; indeed, for a long time the vast majority of our artists, creators and researchers have Wished that it were so.
As the government underlined in the White Paper on Culture published last year: "there is a cultural policy that is beyond the reach of a province, one that only a country can have." The expansion of cable distribution and community media, the creation of a teleprocessing network, film and book policies, assistance programs for cultural industries, will all be part of coherent, sustained action by the Quebec government, based on a sufficient proportion of its financial resources.
Quebec will see to preserving its cultural property, enhancing its heritage in accordance with its own well established priorities, setting up the prestigious and varied museums required for its cultural vitality. When sports, parks and recreation come under exclusive Quebec jurisdiction, our sports federations will no longer be prevented from expanding, our parks from becoming our heritage, our citizens from feeling at home.
Finally, there will be a single, integrated policy in the vast area of education, which will link our manpower policy with the following areas: post-secondary education, second-language teaching, adult education, vocational training and university research.
Respect for Freedoms and Cultural Diversity
Over the years, thanks to the contribution of citizens with different languages and religions, Quebec society, long a homogeneous one, has become quite diverse: it includes English-speaking Quebecers and those of all origins who, with their Francophone compatriots, are helping to build Quebec.
Sovereignty will not change the policy Quebec has always followed regarding the various cultural communities that make up its people and reflect the cultural riches of our planet. It is in the interest of those communities, as well as of Quebec, that they assert and develop that part of themselves which is essential to their heritage. The Quebec government undertakes to put at their disposal the community facilities and cultural instruments with which they will be able to develop their heritage on their own. Those various communities enrich Quebec, and Quebec offers them the ideal surroundings in which to live and grow according to their aspirations.
Besides, Quebec has already embodied in its Charter of human rights and freedoms fundamental rights that go beyond even those recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It will continue in the same way to respect freedom of religion, the freedom to vote, union rights, the individual's right to a private life, to his own possessions and to his reputation, as well as the citizen's rights with respect to the police and the courts.
As for Francophones living outside-Quebec, the government promises them the support and solidarity of Quebecers. In an association between equals with the rest of Canada, Quebec will be able to give them the financial and technical help it already provides, and make it easier for those who so wish to settle on its territory. Moreover, reciprocity agreements that would give them the same advantages now enjoyed by Anglophone Quebecers could preserve many of them from assimilation, which in their present condition they rightly fear.
Opening to the World
Even though Quebec is now almost totally absent from the international scene, and barring some exceptions such as France, it cannot maintain direct relationships with other countries, it has for several years found ways to make breaches in the borders within which Ottawa-has confined it. It has started to talk to the world about economics, social and cultural affairs, politics. A new deal with Canada would allow a sovereign Quebec to establish many fruitful relationships with its neighbours, near and far.
The close relationship Quebec intends to maintain with the rest of Canada is rooted in geographical reality and takes into account historical, strategic and economic factors. The same is true regarding other partners Quebec will select: the United States and France, and then, at another level, the members of the European Economic Community, Japan, and some Francophone countries in Africa. With other countries, relations will grow out of an awareness of common interests which already attract us to some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia, or certain Arabic countries such as Algeria and Saudi Arabia and, further in the future, such great countries as China that have certain specific needs to be met.
Quebec's foreign policy will be based on the general principles that govern relationships between countries - human rights, the peaceful settlement of conflicts, rejection of any recourse to force, non-interference, etc.-as expressed in the United Nations Charter and again in the Helsinki Accord. Besides meeting its own specific needs and defending its own interests, Quebec intends to play its modest role in creating a new world order, in economics as well as in strategy and politics. This does not exclude the possibility that within the treaty of association Quebec, if it so wishes, may share with Canada some of its responsibilities toward foreign countries.
Quebec's defence policy will be based on three concerns: its internal security, the security of the North American continent and the West, and its involvement in United Nations peace-keeping or arbitration missions.
Though technological progress has put an end to several geographical constraints, Quebec still occupies a strategic place within NATO insofar as its territory controls the airways that, from the Arctic or the North Atlantic, end up on the east coast of the continent. This is why Quebec intends to fulfill its commitments toward NORAD.
As for Quebec's contribution to collective security through NATO, it can be justified by the fact that Quebec's future is linked to the lot of American and European democracies, not to mention that the Atlantic Alliance, beyond its military pursuits, encourages international exchanges in several areas.
All this will only mean that Quebec will maintain the military installations already located on its territory, and preserve the jobs of several thousands of Quebecers in that sector. Quebec's aim, however, will be to increase equipment and supplies budgets spent at home, while trying to save part of the enormous amounts of money federal Defence costs us every year.
Thus Quebec, while playing its role in America and in the Atlantic Alliance, will be able to take charge of its external relations, occupy its place among the nations of the world and profit from international exchanges to develop its national wealth. In return, Quebec will have to make a contribution to the progress of other nations, particularly the poorest ones.
Quebec cannot remain deaf to the North-South dialogue, since the structure of its exports largely rests on a relatively small group of products directed toward developed countries, and the share of its exports to developing countries has remained relatively low (10% to 12%) in recent years. This trade must be increased.
Fortunately, Quebec already has a decades-old tradition of direct aid to developing countries. In health and education, particularly, it has sent thousands of missionariesmen and women-to Africa, Asia and South America. This effort must be sustained and adapted to the new realities of international cooperation.
Since the Conference of Education Ministers of Francophone Countries held in Gabon in 1968, Quebec has gradually organized and structured its efforts in the area of cooperation, assuming leadership in some projects in Francophone Africa, giving financial assistance to some international development agencies and supporting Quebec non-governmental organizations for international cooperation. This can be seen as the beginning of an involvement that will grow, since the Quebec government, from the start, intends to devote to its aid program amounts that will be at least equal, in proportion to its national product, to Canada's current contribution.
The Will to Progress
Quebec will be in a better position to take advantage of its major assets if, as a community, it has new instruments in hand, instruments such as it has never had before. The assumption is that in any society that wants to progress, the impetus must come first and foremost from within-from that society itself. Sweden, Japan, France and Germany, whose performances are remarkable, owe almost nothing to outside help: they owe what they have to the resources and know-how of their own people. Quebec too will follow that fundamental rule: its future rests primarily on Quebecers', increased sense of responsibility and their determination to help themselves.
A Call to the Quebec People
It is time to conclude.
For generations and against all odds, we have maintained an identity that sets us apart in North America. We did this after the defeat, then in the Assembly of Lower Canada; we did it despite being crushed in 1837 and under the Act of Union, both of which were aimed at cutting us down to nothing, and again under a federal system which has increasingly driven us into minority status.
All down the line, others have taken us seriously only when we stood up and stuck to our positions. What would they say and what would they think of us if we were to retreat this time? For at least forty years, we have been the main source of the ongoing crisis in the federal system. Duplessis, Lesage, Johnson, Bertrand, Bourassa, whom we elected, only intensified this crisis; even when they slowed down or weakened, pressures from Quebec society stopped them from giving in. For Quebec continued to evolve, to discover that it was increasingly able to control its own affairs.
If after so many years of growing pressure the mountain should bring forth a mouse, none of Quebec's claims would be taken seriously for very long. Would it mean the end of the world? Of course not. Only a brutal ending to the healthiest sort of progress, one that leads an entire people, as naturally as an individual, to its maturity. We would simply have to fall back into line, remain in the state of oblivion kindly granted us by all those outsiders who have been keeping a close eye on our progress.
Robert Cliche, a disappointed and worried federalist, warned us about that in his last published statement on the subject.- "I think that one of the biggest dangers now would be a NO in the referendum".. he wrote. "English Canada would then think that the crisis had been averted and would go back to sleep".
There are those who would encourage Quebecers, as a people, to lose face in the coming Referendum. They are working for defeat! Their rallying cry tells us before anything else, before any possible negotiation with English Canada, to demonstrate political weakness and downplay indecisiveness...falling neatly into line with the wishes of those with whom Quebec must negotiate tomorrow.
Isn't there something strange about that? About wishing that we, as Quebecers, in the close game that has been going on for two centuries, should have as little democratic strength as possible! First, grind us down then on to the negotiation table!
Even if they say the opposite, those who preach a NO in the referendum literally tie us to the status quo, taking away any foreseesable chance for us to extricate ourselves from it or even improve it substantially. A chance never available to those who talked of it in the past, even though, without coming right out and saying it, they always kept in reserve the ultimate weapon of a call to the people. In the future, who would listen to those who would transform this call into surrender?
The so-called political thought which that side would like to impose, though it is hopelessly mired in ambiguity, cannot completely avoid betraying itself. The basis for this thinking is the notion that Quebec is too small and too weak to undertake anything on its own. And that in any case, it would be premature. In three or five or ten years, we may be ready to make a decision-while only a few months ago the government was being chastised for putting off the Referendum- until next spring!
On the contrary, we must believe that we are mature enough, and big enough, and strong enough, to come to terms with our destiny. Because that's the simple truth.
The Quebec nation is a family that will soon be four hundred years old. Long before reaching that age, in both the Americas, Anglo-Saxons, Spaniards and Portuguese gained their sovereignty. History has delayed our emancipation for a long time, but it has not prevented Quebec society from maturing and painfully reaching a level where it could progress, and administer and govern itself.
Over the years, we have slowly accumulated all the essential experience, beginning with a parliamentary experience that has lasted almost two centuries and which has made us familiar earlier than many other peoples, with a practice that is central to democracy. Our administration is as competent as any other, though there might be a tendency to forget, like every other administration in the world, that under all the red tape, it is meant to serve the citizens. Our courts, too, have the virtues and defects of their counterparts elsewhere. In short, we are no more and no less ready than anyone else to run our own political affairs. And should we have to take an examination, we would not rank at the bottom of the class.
All the progressive and sometimes innovative laws, as well as the mass of white and green papers produced by our governments, prove our political maturity in every area: education, health, social services, taxation, agriculture, communications, language, culture, the status of women, energy, regional development, scientific research, the economy, etc. Nothing that is human is foreign to us as a community.
Can there be any doubt about Quebec's ability to succeed in all other areas as well? Through a heroic effort to catch up, in twenty years we have raised our level of education from one of the lowest to one of the highest on the continent. There are still many gaps to fill and there always will be, but such a performance has never been equalled. The same is true for the accomplishments of our artists and writers who, in one generation, have brought about a modest but unquestionable renaissance.
Not so noticeable, however, is a similar expansion in the economy. In those same twenty years, Hydro-Quebec has become one of the biggest and best energy-producing firms in the world, though we had been told that it was impossible. Just as attempts are now being made to have us buy the idea that our only role as far as asbestos is concerned is to dig holes! And just as every effort was made to deprive us of an automobile insurance plan that immediately ranked in the vanguard on the continent.
Not so long ago, Desjardins and the pioneers of the cooperative movement were ridiculed, that did not stop them from reaching their present size. More recently the Caisses d'entraide were ridiculed as well, though by now everyone is familiar with their daring and their growth. The killjoys will always be there, trying to blind those who wish to move ahead. But, happily, they will continue to fail.
They are the people who refuse to acknowledge the guts of the people in the Beauce region; who bury their heads in the sand rather than see the dynamism in the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean region; who think that the Abitibi-Timiscamingue region is so far away that its explosion of vitality is without interest; and those who look at the vibrating heart, the old and very young St. Lawrence Valley, only through the wrong end of a telescope.
And there are those who go around saying that Quebec is too small, and its resources inadequate to meet the challenge of other nations. Too small, this land that is the size of the greatest? Too small, this people of six million whose peers are the Norwegians, Swedes, Swiss, Danes, New Zealanders? Destitute, this incomparable reservoir of forests, minerals, hydraulic resources and even, if it is handled with care, of potential food production?
What more does a people need to make its way in the world?
Quite simply, a people must have the right to conduct its affairs as it pleases, unshackled by apolitical system that everyone finds obsolete.
We Quebecers are a nation, the most firmly anchored nation on this continent. Over the vast expanses of our land, our deep rooted memories and our vital presence are constant reminders that the Quebec people is at home here, in this - its ancestral home.
It is vitally important that from now on this home be completely ours. The time has come to be our own masters. Being a dependent minority, an unhealthy condition for anyone, could and had to be accepted as long as we did not have the means, or even the desire, to end that state of affairs. But delays have taken a heavy toll. We have also been left with a strong inferiority complex, which is the only real reason for our hesitations. We have the chance now to get rid of it once and for all and we have no right to let this chance go by.
Our weight is gradually decreasing, and Ottawa can now get by without Quebec. That means that the current hindrances to our development can only get worse.
- those that prevent us from climbing beyond a certain rung on the ladder, giving the Quebec majority one of the lowest average incomes in our society;
- those that force us to spend years making demands and going through procedures, only to end up, almost exhausted, with results that are taken for granted in any normal country.- for example, the right to speak French among ourselves, in our skies;
- those that give others the final word on such vital, even existential issues as immigration, justice, family and social policies;
- those that make it so difficult to define any important Quebec policy: housing, pulp and paper, agriculture, fisheries, etc.;
- those that drag on to unbearable length, as in the sales tax issue, where the "might is right" approach led to the literal theft of tens of millions of dollars from Quebec coffers (and even more for how many years? -- for police services);
- those that stubbornly refuse us control over broadcasting, one of the most Powerful communication instruments of our time;
- those that make us beg permission every time we want to express ourselves abroad, sometimes arbitrarily refusing it, sometimes subjecting it to a suspicious trusteeship.
All this goes along with overlapping and duplication of programs, and with irrelevant policies whose terrible cost is as great if not greater in terms of wasted energy and efficiency as in money lost.
From the very outset Quebec has not escaped the classic lot of a minority, a lot which has, over the years, deprived us of our fair share first of the railways, then in shipping and now in air routes. The only period when Ottawa has taken a 1ittle less from us than it has given the few short years since the energy crisis of 1974-is already coming to an end Soon we will be paying the same price for oil as everyone else, no matter where it comes from. And the federal government is going on, as always, doing most of its development spending west of the Ottawa River, according to priorities that are constantly at odds with ours.
The new deal we are offering means, first of all, an end to all those shackles. An end to those narrow roles to which so many individuals-and our entire people have been confined. An end to manipulation and exploitation from outside. An end to the insecurity of a minority, and an end to begging permission whenever we want to act, whenever we want to communicate.
Like the 150 other nations of this world, we will also fully possess our own homeland The recognition of that homeland will not impoverish anyone, since we are the ones who cleared the land, tamed it, developed it and inhabit it still. A homeland where we will be able to live as a majority, with the incomparable feeling of security and normality that would result.
We will make our own laws, based on our own knowledge, in response to our own needs and aspirations, free of constant worry about outside constraints and interventions. We will spend at home and for ourselves the taxes and other revenues collected for community purposes, and we will be able to make them serve outgrowth.
We will welcome freely all those who come here from elsewhere in the world and agree to help us build an increasingly productive, just and humane society, according to our plans and our way of seeing and saying things. Once it is sure it can reach fulfilment, endure, our society will be more open and tolerant than ever.
There will be no blocks placed in the way of that society from outside. We will be able to use to the full the talents, energies, inventiveness and love of a job well done with which we are as richly endowed as any nation in the world.
Our most notable progress to date has been accomplished in areas where we have been left alone, where we did not have to ask anyone's permission. Sovereignty will give free rein to Quebec initiative on all fronts, both now and in the future.
Above all, we will become responsible, that synonym par excellence of free. This is what scares those who run away from the idea of having a country of their own. It is as though they were afraid of being healthy! There is nothing like responsibility, for peoples and individual to give added strength and pride, and a better image of themselves in their own eyes and in others'.
We see this sovereignty within the framework of a new association with Canada that would place us firmly within an increasingly universal trend in the modern world.- a world teeming with full-fledged members of the club of sovereign states, but where the barriers created by borders are weakening and some of the widest gaps opened by history are slowly being filled. This is no utopia, but the reality of interdependence that all peoples must now accept and work out among themselves.
The only condition is that peoples be fundamentally equal, regardless of the power or size of each. In Benelux, the first contemporary model for association, tiny Luxembourg, with less than half a million inhabitants all told, deals on all essential questions as an equal with Belgium and Holland, whose populations are twenty-five or thirty times greater. And if that central principle of equality among peoples had not been maintained, the Benelux experience would never have led to the vast European Economic Community which now brings together nine very different countries. Nor would the Nordic Council of Scandinavian countries have ever seen the light of day.
Thus it is between equals that we want to strike a new deal with our partners in the rest of Canada. A deal based on the formula of free association between sovereign states, which tends increasingly to replace the old federal mould in which the identities of national minorities could never find real security, nor blossom to the full.
This association will allow us to keep in common everything that is mutually advantageous: an economic entity that could be dislocated only at a high cost to both parties, common markets and a joint monetary policy, the free flow of people and goods, and the entire gamut, which can be gradually broadened, of concerns and services that could be shared. The Post Office? Railways? International air links? Reciprocity for minorities? Anything that does not affect each party's fundamental freedom to adopt its own laws, use its own resources as it pleases and remain in charge of its home.
Thus a sovereign Quebec would be a pivot, rather than a barrier, between the Maritimes and Ontario, allowing the continuation and free evolution of the federal system in the rest of Canada.
Obviously, this will not be achieved overnight. It will require negotiations-again. This time, however, it will no longer be the sterile, interminable discussions in which our claims kept coming up against the wall of a system that has been refusing any major change for 112 years and still does.
At last we will put on the table the key without which nothing can be unlocked.- the clear and categorical expression of our collective will.
Soon the time will come to express that democratic will of the Quebec people and, by that very means, give its government the mandate to open the most decisive period of our history.
Indeed, the choice should be easy, for the heart as well as the mind. We need only give a little thought to how faithful we have been in the past and how strong we are at present; we must think also of those who will follow us, whose futures depend so utterly on that moment.
We will not hesitate, then, at the great crossroads of the Referendum, to choose the only road that can open up the horizon and guarantee us a free, proud and adult national existence, the road that will be opened to us - Quebecers of today and tomorrow - by one positive and resounding answer : Yes.
The Government of Quebec
1. Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of Confederation of the British North American Provinces, 3rd session, 8th Provincial Parliament of Canada, Québec, 1865, Hunter, Rose & Co., Parliamentary Printers, p. 41.
2. "National Policy" : well-known economic policy, implemented in 1879 by the federal government, including basically a protectionist customs policy and creating an East-West transportation system. This policy resulted in gradually moving industry to the centre of Canada, thereby favouring Ontario.
3. L'urbanisation au Quebec. Rapport du groupe de travail sur l'urbanisation, February 1976, p. 337.
4. Report of the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations, Book 11, Recommendations, Ottawa, King's Printer, 1940, p. 173.
5. Excerpt from the B & B Commission, Ottawa, Queen's Printer, 1965, pp. 133 ss.
6. Ibid, pp. XXXIII ss.
7. OECD, main economic indicators, April 1979. These comparisons are based on the national GDP/per capita, in American dollars.