Wexit. Is it going to be easy?
As an avid reader of online news, much better than the mainstream opinionarama variety, I am somewhat taken aback at how little concern there is in eastern Canada about the possibility of secession by the West. Could it be they know something we don’t?
The latest term being tossed around in our circles is “Wexit”, an adaptation of the British “Brexit” that signaled a departure from the European Union. Upon examination it looks easy enough, call a referendum, people vote, 51% takes the prize, the other 49% can lump it. Badda-Bing-Badda-Boom, easy peasy. Let’s start on Monday.
But is it? Sorry folks, in Canada it isn’t and here’s why. But first, a little history.
Let’s go back to October 30, 1995, the day Jean Chretien came close to losing Quebec by less than a point. It was the largest voter turnout in Quebec’s history and had it swung the other way the Quebec government was ready to unilaterally declare independence.
Jean Chretien, to say the least, was a bit unnerved at coming so close to being the Prime Minister that lost the country. He waited to make his move. It came in the 1998 Supreme Court decision that unilateral separation by a province was illegal, required a constitutional amendment, and that only a clear majority could bring about any negotiations on separation from Canada. Bingo!
The federal point man on these matters, appointed by Chretien, was Stephane Dion. Dion became the architect of the Clarity Act. Now while the act was primarily aimed at Quebec, it also has a tremendous bearing on the aspirations of the West since it could be applied to any province.
But what does the act say? Here is where we get into the nitty-gritty of things, and a bit later on, the implications for Western independence.
If ever there was an unfair piece of legislation born of desperation, the Clarity Act is it. Let’s examine the key points.
- The House of Commons has the power to decide if a referendum question is clear enough.
- The question must be solely concerned with separation. This means a clear question, in or out, yes or no.
- Only the House of Commons can decide if the results are a “clear majority” or not. Exactly what a clear majority is, is not specified and could be anything. This magic number can be changed by the House at any time.
- In the case of success, all provinces and First Nations must be involved in the negotiations.
- The secession of the province(s) will require a Constitutional amendment approved by at least two-thirds of the provinces (7) that have at least 50% of the population of Canada as a whole.
- The House of Commons can override the results of the referendum decision if, in its opinion, it violates any part of the Clarity Act.
A referendum cannot be held by a group of provinces, it has to be done by each province individually. Not an easy task.
So, Wexit? Not in the pure sense of the word. Canada has made sure it holds all the cards and unlike the United States which has declared itself “indivisible”, Canada is divisible but not easily so. In fact, it is almost impossible. Almost.
With Canada eager to play lapdog to the United Nations and preach from above about our tolerance, understanding, diversity, and respect for the human condition, it would be an impossibly huge black eye to deny these things to its own citizens. Public international law would likely apply in this case, especially if it involved nearly half the land mass and 40% of the population of Canada. New countries have been born with much less.
By now, dear reader, you must doubt the task before us. I don’t blame you one bit but we need to keep a few things in mind. First, this is an incredibly long process! Secession has to become not only acceptable but viable to our populations before we can even begin to speak about referendums. Second, it will not be an easy process once underway. We can see just be the nature of the Clarity Act how underhanded the government can be. Negotiations will likely take 5 or more years during which, according to the act, the Canadian Constitution and laws apply.
There is much to discuss, much to consider and debate. This blog will try to play a part in future posts but supporters need to speak to others and make the case for a new country where we dictate our own destiny. Get busy, there is work to be done!