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Quebec and the Ideal of Federalism

Louis Balthazar
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 538, Being and Becoming Canada (Mar., 1995), pp. 40-53
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1048325
Page Count: 14
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Quebec and the Ideal of Federalism
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Abstract

The federal structure of Canada has always been very important for Quebec, especially since the Quiet Revolution. By the 1960s, Quebec had come to constitute a communication network of its own. This reinforced the notion of provincial autonomy. Quebec's claims were supported by two important federal commissions. The Ottawa government, however, under Pierre Elliott Trudeau's leadership, reacted with the concept of a single Canadian nation. Trudeau's actions culminated with the 1982 Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since the Quebec National Assembly did not and could not approve a constitutional scheme that totally ignored Quebec as a people, the Canadian Constitution was and still is illegitimate for Quebecers. Efforts at rectifying this anomaly were in vain, in great part because the very spirit of Canadianism resulting from the application of the Charter did not allow for the full recognition of a distinct society in Quebec. This is why Quebecers, who are strong believers in federalism, may be led to sovereignty. Canada, as it is now conceived by most Canadians, does not seem compatible with an enduring Quebec identity.

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