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The Supreme Court of Canadas Ruling on Secession - Case Study Example

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The following paper highlights that Quebec’s quest for secession was a major challenge to the sovereignty of Canada. Having lost twice in referenda that secessionists thought would produce favorable results, the government took several steps to ensure that Quebec’s secession would not be a reality.  …
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The Supreme Court of Canadas Ruling on Secession
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The Supreme Court of Canada’s Ruling on Secession and its Importance to Canadian Politics Quebec’s quest for secession was a major challenge to the sovereignty of Canada. Having lost twice in referenda that secessionists thought would produce favourable results, the federal government took several steps to ensure that Quebec’s secession would not become a reality. The federal government also sought the Opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to unilateral secession. This article will analyse the Supreme Court’s worthy opinion and present the significance of the opinion to Canadian politics.
The Federal government of Canada sought the Supreme Court’s opinion on three main questions. The first question related to whether or not Canada’s constitution allowed the legislature, National Assembly, or government of Quebec to allow the unilateral secession of Quebec from Canada. In its opinion, having considered the presentations of all concerned parties, the Supreme Court noted that the Canadian Constitution did not allow unilateral secession. The court however noted that if the people of Quebec voted in favour of secession through a referendum, the rest of the country would have no basis to deny the people their wish. Further, it was the court’s opinion that the government of Quebec would need to negotiate with the federal government the terms of the country’s independence (canlii.org par. 6). The Supreme Court noted that the constitution of Canada was founded on four tenets which were equally important as much as they are interrelated: federalism, democracy, protection of minorities, and the rule of law and constitutionalism (canlii.org par. 4).
The second question that the Supreme Court gave its opinion on related to Quebec’s right to secede under international law. In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that the situation of Quebec did not find application in international law. The Supreme Court stated that international law gives not component parts of independent states the right to independently secede from their parents (canlii.org par. 10). In relation to this, the court stated that a people’s right to self determination should be exercised legally such as through negotiations. International law only gives those under colonial rule or whose country is under foreign occupation the legal right to secede in the court’s opinion (canlii.org par. 9).
The third question asked by the federal government related to which law (domestic or international) would take precedence in the event of a conflict between the two in relation to Quebec’s bid to secede. In the court’s view, it was not necessary to provide feedback on the question since both International law and Canadian law did not conflict on the issue of secession (canlii.org par. 13). Both laws did not allow for the unilateral secession of Quebec from Canada.
The court’s opinion was sound given that it considered various points of view and interpreted International and domestic law without bias. The ruling is important for the politics of Canada as it emphasizes the fact that secession is possible if the right/legal channels are followed. The opinion is particularly important as it emphasises that the desires of the people as expressed through a referendum should be respected. Yet again, the ruling does not underscore the sovereignty of Canada as stipulated in the constitution.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court ruling is good for both Canada and Quebec since it considers the established laws and differed perspectives without ruling out the possibility of secession and undermining the territorial sovereignty of the country.
Works Cited
canlii.org. Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 SCR 217. N.d. Web. 12 October, 2012 http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/1998/1998canlii793/1998canlii793.html Read More
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