Martin wants a new deal for Quebec

Élections 2006


MONTREAL-Liberal Leader Paul Martin said last night he would embark on constitutional change so that Quebec signs on.
"What I think is crucial is the recognition of Quebec, its dynamism, its specificity, its difference - that calls out to Canada," Martin said.
"Absolutely, as soon as the circumstances are ready, I would like Quebec to sign the Constitution, and I will do everything so that it can happen."
Similarly, NDP Leader Jack Layton called for talks with the provinces to achieve an agreement so the Quebec National Assembly signs the Constitution.
In contrast, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said he endorses flexible federalism and a role for Quebec at international organizations - but was skeptical about constitutional change. "We don't want a situation where the federal government talked about the Constitution all the time," he said.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe made it clear he thought the constitutional amendment game was over.
In 1981, then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau patriated the Constitution without Quebec's agreement. In 1987 and 1992, there were constitutional proposals designed to bring in Quebec. Both failed.
Earlier in the debate, Duceppe used a series of allegations against a unity group in the 1995 referendum to attack not only the Liberals, but federalism.
"If the sponsorship scandal is a Liberal scandal, the Option Canada scandal is a federal scandal," Duceppe said.
Option Canada was established to promote federalism during the referendum. A new book has demonstrated it spent funds in breach of Quebec law.
Harper accused Duceppe of smearing federalists. "It is not a crime to promote federalism in Quebec," he said. Additional articles by Graham Fraser


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