What can Legault do against the Ottawa wall?

Short answer: bet on the people of Quebec themselves.

Legault loves and respects the Quebec people. He repeats that he wants to patiently build a balance of power with Ottawa based on the people themselves, so that it is clear that it is not to Legault but to the people of Quebec that Trudeau says no. The weapon to break down the wall of Ottawa, in fact, is the people of Quebec, it is democracy, it is the sovereignty of the people. In this sense, Legault is a worthy disciple of René Lévesque, a democrat above all.

We are therefore far from a battle of roosters between Justin and François! We are faced with a battle in which the main actor must be the people of Quebec. However, what is most lacking in the current debate is precisely the main actor, the people. The battle for the survival of the nation is being fought without the nation…! The primary responsibility of the Premier of Quebec is not to reply to that of Canada. Its great responsibility is to empower Quebecers to decide for themselves the fate of the nation.

Legault must first win a meaningful popular vote in favor of a government that is committed to serving the will to live of the people of Quebec. It may be said, the

popular vote remains the only exercise of direct democracy in our system.

Then, once elected, he must give the Quebec people a voice. There are several possible ways to do this. The referendum is one of them, but it is not always the best: a referendum, by definition, divides, draws the nation into two opposing camps and does not seek reconciliation but the victory of the strongest.

Estates General, as Legault suggested, or a vast commission on the Bélanger/Campeau model, would already be better, since these exercises would make it possible to amass a large mass of information and opinions, provided that they make room for citizens and are not limited to representations of constituted bodies and specialists.

Minister Jolin-Barrette also alluded to the possibility of giving Quebec its own Constitution. The question is fundamental. But on condition that it is a Constitution written by the people and not by a handful of elected partisans or jurists. The best thing that Legault could do would be without a doubt to entrust a non-partisan Citizens’ Assembly representative of the people of Quebec with the mandate to consult Quebecers and to propose a text for a Constitution for Quebec. This is called a Constituent Assembly, a Constitution being precisely what constitutes a country, a nation, a State. The idea is more and more widespread in Quebec.

Who will win in such an exercise? Only one real possible winner: the people. There’s a word for that: it’s called democracy. Nationalists, separatists, federalists, autonomists…all will have a say. The sterile battle of ideologies must give way to what is essential for a people: democracy, its own sovereignty.

All that remains is to have this draft Constitution adopted by a national referendum. Thus, the referendum would be on a Constitution written by the people rather than on a question concocted and controlled by a political party. This is what normal democratic countries do, since the Americans who paved the way: “We, the people of Quebec, proclaim the present constitution…”

Therefore, under the international charters on the sovereignty of the people and the right of peoples to self-determination, and in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference re Secession of Quebec (1998), Ottawa will be legally bound to negotiate the implementation of the clearly expressed will of the people of Quebec concerning the status and political institutions of Quebec, failing which, Quebec will be justified in proceeding unilaterally with the changes adopted by the people of Quebec. “The will of the people is the basis of the authority of public powers” ​​(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 21).

Only then can we say that François Legault has brought to fruition the dream not only of René Lévesque but also of Champlain and Papineau: a grandiose country in the heart of America, an egalitarian people, a nation proud of its origins, a democratic state.

André Larocque, Deputy Minister for Democratic Reform in the two Lévesque and Roméo Bouchard governments, founder of the Union paysanne, initiators of the Mouvement Démocratie et Citoyenneté québécoises (mdcq.org).


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