Monday, August 20, 2007

On August 20, ...

...1998, in the Quebec Secession Case, the Canadian Supreme Court applied international norms relating to self-determination of peoples to hold unanimously that people with in the predominantly French-speaking province of Québec (flag at right) had no right under either international or domestic law to secede; rather, they were expected to achieve self-determination within the framework of the state of Canada (flag at left). The decision has become a landmark judicial examination of secession and self-determination.
...1966, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) was born in Miami.


Canadian Tar Heel said...

Thanks for the reference to the Reference re Quebec Succession. It’s interesting to note that other countries may look to Canadian jurisprudence.

Since this post is really just a blurb, it only skims the judgment. As I understand it: As long as the federal government along with the other provincial governments respect their constitutional obligations while exercising their constitutional rights towards Quebec (Question 1), then the province may not unilaterally secede at international law, because Quebecers would not qualify as a colonial people, an oppressed people or a people denied their right to self-determination (Question 2). However, if the federal government and the other provinces fail to live up to their constitutional obligations, namely to engage in negotiation if Quebecers demonstrate a clear majority on a clear question of secession, then that failing may or may not give legitimacy to unilateral Quebec secession. And Quebec’s behaviour is equally important on the question of legitimacy.

It should also be stressed that there is a question of democratic legitimacy, from Quebec’s perspective, surrounding the judgment. An amicus curiae argued the case for Quebec. And the province did not agree to the 1982 repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, which carried with it the Canadian Charter.

Diane Marie Amann said...

Excellent elaboration. You are right there is is a multi-step analysis in the opinion, one that reflects the international law preference (shared, not surprisingly by the states whose practice composes customary international law) for realization of a people's right to self-determination within the existing nation-state. Only if that is not possible might external self-determination -- that is, secession -- be permissible. A textbook example of the latter occurs when a people throws off oppressive colonial government. And yes, this decision itself is a staple of international law textbooks published due south of Canada's border.