The Quebec question

On the eve of Quebec’s election, Thomas Mulcair talks to Postmedia.

In an interview with Postmedia News, leader Thomas Mulcair was reluctant to weigh in on what remains a hypothetical situation. That said, he was adamant that his team stands together on matters of national unity. “We’ve been extremely clear that we’re a pan-Canadian party. We work with all provinces and we want Quebec to remain part of Canada,” he said. “We have never had any ambiguity about that and I have no member of my caucus with known ties to the sovereignty movement.”

While members have occasionally spoken out of turn when it comes to the party’s position on Quebec sovereignty, Mulcair affirmed that the NDP’s 2005 Sherbrooke Declaration stands. The position states a simple majority of 50 per cent plus one would suffice in the event of a referendum and that the province’s legislature has the authority to devise the question. Mulcair also expressed support for the 1998 Supreme Court reference on Quebec secession, which fell short of quantifying a majority but outlined a variety of “qualitative” criteria that would have to be met.

“In the riding that I used to represent in the National Assembly in the 1995 referendum, there were thousands and thousands of votes that were declared invalid,” he said. “Everything about the holding of the referendum has to be clear, from the type of question that gets asked to the way the voting proceeds to the rules that are applied. . . . Has it been a fair vote? Has the counting been fair?”

Immediately after last year’s election, a few of the new NDP MPs seemed less than condemnatory of sovereignty.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.