Bloc Québécois fails to pass motion on Quebec nationhood, constitutional change

·2 min read

OTTAWA — The Bloc Québécois failed to unanimously pass a motion recognizing Quebec's right to unilaterally amend the Constitution in line with proposed reforms to the province's language law.

Leader Yves-François Blanchet tabled a motion Wednesday in the House of Commons asking lawmakers to recognize that right, but confronted a single, critical "no" from a lone member of Parliament.

Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould scuppered the unanimity required for a motion tabled without official notice.

In a subsequent Twitter post, she said political partisanship and "pandering" have led lawmakers "to abandon core legal norms" and debate on key constitutional issues.

Blanchet's motion sought to clear a path for parliamentary recognition of Premier François Legault's move to amend the country's supreme law by affirming Quebec as a nation with French as its official language.

The legislation, known as Bill 96, has stirred up debate as experts fret that constitutional acknowledgment of a distinct society would push courts to interpret laws differently in Quebec or hand it greater provincial power.

Experts say constitutional tweaks require approval from the House of Commons and Senate, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said an initial Justice Department analysis concluded the province can go ahead with the changes.

Despite Wednesday's hiccup, Blanchet said he still believes a vast majority of parliamentarians support the motion.

The party plans to retable the motion for debate and a recorded vote on the Bloc's next opposition day. It has one left before the House rises for summer on June 24.

Earlier on Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Quebec's proposed changes to the Constitution are purely "symbolic" and will not impact Canadians outside the province, calling the modifications "important" but uncontroversial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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