Mandos

Double backflip retroactive illegitimacy

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We haven’t had a thread on the national unity Eternal Subject in a little while. Yes, I know, the issue of the day is the Boston bombings, but we have far too little actual information, at least at the time of this writing, to say anything that hasn’t already repeatedly been said.

Québec used to be my “beat” when it came to the English-language blogosphere, especially since back then, there weren’t that many Canadian anglophone bloggers who could read French or bothered to pay attention to Le Devoir and La Presse. With blogospheric growth, the number of bilingual — or at least, biliterate — bloggers increased, and, well, I went through what would be two country and one majority-language changes (possibly two; I lived very close to if not in a majority Spanish-speaking community in the USA), and it became too hard for me to keep up. I do occasionally check back.

So, what’s going on with the Canadian unity file? In English media, it seems not much. Justin Trudeau got chosen as the federal Liberal leader. Because of the name and parentage, that’s unity news. In French-language/Québec media, on the other hand, things are all a lather, particularly in the particularly-sovereigntist media. Why? Because of a book written by Frédéric Bastien called La bataille de Londres, about the 1982 Constitution. This is a genre: every so often a nationalist-minded intellectual will write a book about one perfidy or another that was perpetrated against the Québécois people, and it will be bounced around as a lot of brand-new revelations of outrage in Le Devoir. And bounce around, and peter out. Helps to have a PQ government, though.

What’s the fuss about this book then? It contains a particular accusation against the late Supreme Court judge Bora Laskin: that he broke judicial independence by revealing to politicians a favorable disposition towards the constitutional effort. This accusation, gleaned from what I gather are somewhat indirect sources, is taken to mean that later judgements of the Court that lubricated the way to constitutional patriation are not the product of true judicial independence.

This has pushed the sovereigntist media to a fever pitch. Needless to say, the Le Devoir comment sections are full of declarations that not only is the 1982 Constitution not morally legitimate (I mean, we knew that already), it is in fact illegal, built on the sand of Bora Laskin’s interference. And if it is not legal, the province of Québec is — ah ha! — already a sovereign country, with no need (moral or legal) of referenda or legislative acts, no need to respect the decisions of a fully traduced Supreme Court, nothing. Done, finito.

Needless to say, even the PQ doesn’t take this line…not yet, at the very least. Instead, Mme. Marois and various sovereigntist luminaries, of course entirely and faithfully concerned with the legitimacy of the political process, have called on Ottawa to open all the books and communications of the era that are yet private. There must, of course, be many other perfidies and insults to Québec and its national dignity and rights contained therein. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Le Devoir has a special column devoted to peering over and seeing if the anglophone press has anything truly principled to say about national issues. After all, if we are truly one country, then the English press should reflect most, if not all of the concerns of Le Devoir, amirite? And now, with the entire…not legitimacy, but legality of the federal constitution at stake, should this not be of utmost concern to the anglophone “compatriots”? Alas, regrettably:

La Cour suprême, le rapatriement de la Constitution et les intrigues du juge Laskin ? Bof, ont semblé soupirer cette semaine les médias du Canada anglais. La question a peut-être alimenté les débats au Québec - et fait sortir Lucien Bouchard -, mais elle est passée pratiquement inaperçue ailleurs au pays. Peu ou pas de commentaires et d’éditoriaux. Quasi-silence radio.

To the Le Devoir reader (and commenter), what better evidence of the total moral turpitude of the coloniser, completely unconcerned that the very foundations of the so-called Canadian nation are in question?

But seriously, now, the point is that the question of Québec’s voluntary accession to the 1982 patriated Constitution, to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and so on and so forth, are not dead and are not going to go away any time soon, because the fundamental issue is not resolved. Yes indeed, the notwithstanding clause ultimately allows Québec to retain its liberatory restrictions such as Bill 101, but they exist in a subaltern sort of legal life, rather than recognized fully as the triumphant crown jewels of national liberation that they were intended to be by their authors.

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This page contains a single entry by Mandos published on April 16, 2013 12:15 PM.

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