Anglos should welcome Quebec constitution

Constitution québécoise

By Giuliano D'Andrea, Richard Smith and Deepak Awasti
For several decades, the suggestion of a written constitution for Quebec has been central within the nationalist debate. As early as 1963, Jean Lesage’s Liberal government created a committee to examine the question. The Union Nationale government that followed also raised the question, as would other provincial governments. The Parti Quebecois brought up the issue once again at its national convention this past summer, as has the Parti Action Democratique more recently.
The broader notion of written constitutions for the provinces has reputable supporters in both Quebec and the rest of Canada, most notably in Alberta. So mainstream is the notion that we can find political science professor, F. L. Morton, from the University of Calgary casually mentioning in a paper delivered in Italy this spring that “…constitutionally, each province has the legal authority to enact an entrenched constitution of its own.” In short, the idea of a written Quebec constitution with an amending formula using referendums, for example, is compatible with a federal system of equal provinces.
Statistics Canada continues to report high levels of emigration by young English-speaking Quebeckers, pointing clearly toward the impending destruction our community. Addressing such issues is of vital importance to our community, where our demographics must be put on the negotiation table, along with language laws and how they are affecting our community. A new holistic, linguistic social contract should be adopted to facilitate the integration of English-speaking Quebeckers into mainstream Quebec while slowing their emigration.
A new Quebec constitution with important provisions for linguistic rights could be just the vehicle we need for the development of this new linguistic social contract, which could constitutionalize the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as provisions of Law 142 that protects the right of anglophones to receive health and social services in English. In addition, a new Quebec constitution could reaffirm the English-language schooling rights established in Section 23 of the Canadian Charter, while including provisions allowing anglophones to attend French-language schools without forfeiting their right to retreat into the English-language school system.
Once the protection of these fallback educational rights is reaffirmed, a Quebec constitution could offer anglophone rights within the context of integrated French/English common schools that could, and should, be established. Such schools, unique to Quebec, could reflect its distinct circumstances within Canada whereby the youth of both linguistic majority and minority need to learn each other’s language; francophones for continental and international reasons, anglophones for local needs. What could offer a better foundation to a real common Quebec identity than common schools, and with it, the development of a rapport that would make redress to the courts and language legislation less necessary?
Giuliano d’Andrea is the East Island chapter chairman of Alliance Quebec, Richard Smith is a former director of Alliance Quebec and Deepak Awasti is a director of the Greater Quebec Movement.

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