Clarity, Quebec and the NDP

Stephane Dion scolds the New Democrats for their Unity Bill

Stephane Dion scolds the New Democrats for their Unity Bill.

The bill sets this threshold at a single vote difference. The NDP, which requires a two-thirds majority to amend its own constitution, is prepared to dismantle Canada on the basis of a recount. If 50 per cent plus one is a clear majority, then what would be an unclear majority? Moreover, contrary to the Clarity Act, this bill does not use the turnout rate as a criterion for evaluating a clear majority. Unlike the Clarity Act, the bill says nothing about the principles that should guide the federal government when negotiating on secession – in particular, the protection of minority rights.

Emmett Macfarlane questioned the NDP bill last week.

Craig Scott, the bill’s sponsor, defended his side in an interview with Postmedia.

“Everybody knows that the Clarity Act was anything but clear,” Scott told Postmedia News. He said the act is “arbitrary and unclear” and offers a “muddy set of ground rules.”

Uncertainty over the acceptable threshold for victory could even backfire on federalists, he said, because some Quebecers might vote for sovereignty to send a “signal” — only then to unhappily realize it helped secure a referendum victory for hard-core separatists. Scott said the NDP’s plan accomplishes two things: It respects basic democratic principles, and it provides clarity. “The fact of the matter is we have put forward a clear number. Everybody knows what the stakes are when they go to vote.”

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