Pulse of Canada: Does the Clarity Act need to be revisited?

Thomas Bink
Pulse of CanadaFebruary 1, 2013
Do we need to revisit the Clarity Act?
The NDP is proposing a law that will allow a bare majority "Yes" vote to trigger negotiations on Quebec’s secession from Canada. This week on Pulse of Canada we ask Canadians if they agree that we need to revisit the Clarity Act?

Each Friday, Yahoo! Canada News asks Canadians where they stand on the important issues of the day, and our panel of experts tackles the same question.

The NDP is proposing a law that will allow a bare majority Yes vote to trigger negotiations on Quebec’s secession from Canada. Do you agree that we need to revisit the Clarity Act?

Here's what you said:

Thomas Bink: C’mon, this is clearly an attempt by the NDP to pander to Quebec voters in light of a Liberal upsurge in the province. There’s no reason to change the Clarity Act – in fact, there’s little appetite right now in Quebec for secession. Sure, it’s a bubbling issue that could rear its ugly head should the economy tank and Quebecers get antsy, but let’s get real here. There are much bigger issues facing Canada now that the NDP should focus on instead trying to stir the Quebec separation pot.

Matthew Coutts Yeah, this move has politics written all over it. It stinks to high heaven of the NDP posturing and positioning themselves as champions of Quebec. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to work. Separatists get to feel they have champions in Ottawa, the NDP get to continue playing the same part. And the bill likely won’t even be heard before the next election, meaning the NDP can campaign on the promise in Quebec without facing the backlash elsewhere. I just hope the rest of Canada doesn’t forget that they are chiseling at a fault line with their own personal gain in mind.

Andy Radia: Yes I agree this is, in part, a political maneuver on behalf of the NDP. But this is also a very real issue in the Province of Quebec and one that needs to be debated. Personally, I believe the Clarity Act — the Chretien-era bill which mandates a clear question and clear majority in any referendum about Quebec separation — is fair. While the Act doesn't specify what a 'clear'' majority is, 50 per cent plus one, like the NDP are suggesting, should not be enough to break-up a country.

Bink: I agree! The Clarity Act is fine, and it puts the decision in the hands of the federal government (or possibly the courts?) to decide whether Quebec can separate even if a small majority of Quebecers vote to do so. I think that’s the fair way to go … the decision affects all Canadians, so all Canadians should have a say. I’m not impressed with the NDP for bringing this up now. It reeks of desperation now that the spotlight has moved to Justin Trudeau and the resurging Liberal Party. Come on, focus on real issues.

Coutts: The problem with the Clarity Act is that it is not clear at all. If a referendum results in something that could be claimed as a “clear majority,” the result will be a court battle, probably a long one. That is going to be chaos. I don’t want Quebec to separate, and I definitely don’t want the bar to do that to be set at 50 per cent plus one. If those are the options, I’ll take the current Clarity Act over the NDP’s new plan.

Radia: While I don't agree with the NDP's specific policy, I give them credit for taking-on a sensitive issue. And guys, this is a real issue: we have a separatist government in the Province of Quebec with a premier who is going around the world telling people that she wants her own country. We've been down this road before and weren't prepared. It's time we get prepared.

Bink: I think that's something we can all agree on.

What do you think? Share your opinions in the comments area below.

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