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THE MEANING OF CANADIAN FEDERALISM IN QUÉBEC: CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

By Guy Laforest

Abstract

Ever since the federal founding of Canada in 1867, Québec has substantiallycontributed to the various stages in the evolution of the Canadian state and inthe interpretation of Canadian federalism. In the aftermath of the referendumsof 1980 and 1995, and considering that a third sovereignty referendum appearsquite unlikely in Québec, this article provides a survey and critical understandingof current federalist thinking and current academic discourses concerning federalismin Québec. Although the article is mostly about intellectual history, it integratescurrent political developments in the province of Québec, governed bythe Liberals led by Jean Charest since 2003, and in Canada as a whole as well,governed since 2006 by consecutive Conservative minority governments underthe leadership of Stephen Harper. The article shows that in the major academicdiscipines of constitutional law, history, political science and philosophy, Québecinterpretations of Canadian federalism continue to be dominated by a paradigmformulated by the Report of the Tremblay Commission, a forum for enquiry onconstitutional matters created by the Québec government more than fifty yearsago. The dominant paradigm continues to propose an «existential» approachfocusing on greater autonomy and recognition for Québec, while at the sametime adopting an instrumental-utilitarian stance towards Canada. While thisapproach continues to be developed with great academic sophistication, in mostof these disciplines a certain federalist «revival» is under way, attempting topropose a better equilibrium between the requirements of autonomy-recognitionfor Québec and those of solidarity-interdependence with the whole of Canada

Topics: Canadian state, Québec’s political freedom and self-government, autonomy and recognition, Canadian federalism, federal equilibrium, Political institutions and public administration (General), JF20-2112, Political science, J, DOAJ:Political Science, DOAJ:Law and Political Science, Social Sciences, H
Publisher: Institut d'Estudis de l'Autogovern
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:10d0ba36ec3f4ad08e80aa2342d4cd41
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