Premier Couillard's Aim to Sign
If the National Question Is
Why Are Couillard & Co.
Protesting So Much?
Premier Couillard's Aim to Sign
• If the
National Question Is Finished, Why Are Couillard & Co.
Protesting So Much? -
Declarations Will Not Extinguish Quebeckers' Striving
for a Modern Constitution - Louis Lang
Harper's Reference to
• Couillard and Harper Do Not Want Canada and
Defined on a Modern Basis -
Premier Couillard's Aim to Sign the
If the National Question Is Finished, Why Are
Couillard & Co. Protesting So Much?
On September 6, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard used
the occasion of the 200th anniversary of
the birth of
the Conservative "father of Confederation" George-Étienne
declare he will sign
the Constitution Act 1982 -- that de facto excludes
Quebec -- by the time Canada celebrates the 150th
anniversary of Confederation in 2017. His federal counterpart Stephen
Harper also chimed in on this occasion to declare the national question
once and for all.
One week later, just before the September 18 referendum
Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom, Couillard and federal
Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird wished the "No" camp success.
After the referendum, they hailed the defeat of Scotland's independence
by the margin of 55.3 per cent to 44.7 per cent.
The defeat of the Scottish "Yes" vote followed a
tricks second only to the illegal, underhanded and hysterical "unity
campaign" unleashed by the Chrétien Liberals against the 1995
referendum. Bags of money and agents poured into Quebec from all the
federal political, economic and social forces desperate to undermine
the Quebec people and their right to choose their own future. In spite
of this, the Quebec yes campaign lost by an even slimmer
margin than the Scottish referendum, 50.58 per cent to 49.42 per cent.
Next, Couillard was heard boasting to Bloomberg News
the people of Quebec are no longer interested in sovereignty. It's
over, finished, he declared with gusto. Nobody's interested in the
Constitution. "In this era of globalization, in which supranational
organizations and markets have greater power than ever," the Scots and
Quebeckers realize they need to belong to a bigger nation, he said.
"An idea never dies, but the issue is its capacity to become a strong
political force." Thus, Couillard and Harper are
making sure the national question never has "the capacity to become a
strong political force."
Premier Couillard and the Liberals have a majority in
Assembly and they will use to sign the Constitution Act 1982,
eagerly kneeling before
the ruling elite who refuse to
let the Quebec people decide their own future.
Meanwhile in Spain, the opposition of the ruling elite
to the people being allowed to exercise decision-making power on the
question of independence has erupted with a vengeful side. The
remnants of Franco fascism are launching violent rhetoric to ensure
Catalonians are denied their right to choose independence from Spain on
So much sound and fury over a question that is
about which nobody cares! Could it be that it is not over after all?
Could it be that on contrary, the Anglo-Canadian nation-state imposed
people of Quebec, the First Nations and the peoples of all the former
dominions established in Canada from the 17th to the 19th century
is finished? Yet there remains a ruling elite that clings to power and
class privilege, by attaching itself to the coattails of the U.S.,
and blocks the emergence of the new.
The Couillard, Harper, Baird cabal, in celebrating the
supposed death of the
movement for sovereignty, declare Canada and Quebec
annexed economies, territories and ministries under the thumb of the
United States of North American Monopolies. We are "open for business"
at any price, they chant, with the Canadian armed forces
integrated into the U.S. war machine ready to go to war wherever the
President tells us there are bad people to fight.
Does this political reality of annexation and perpetual
war not tell
us that sorting out the national question is more urgent than ever
the working class constitutes itself the nation and vests sovereignty
in the people, we are in big trouble. Unless the working class calls
for a constituent assembly in Quebec and another in the rest of Canada
establish modern democratic institutions that vest sovereignty in the
people and not in the rich and their representatives, and directs them
to take up the affirmation of the rights of all, we are doomed to a
continuous cycle of crises, chaos and war.
Far from the national question being over, the
affirmation of the
Quebec nation on a modern basis is the most urgent task today. The
agenda for the working class entails the creation of a modern Canada,
which recognizes the right of Quebec to self-determination up to and
including secession. We cannot move forward without establishing
modern nation-to-nation relations with the indigenous peoples and
enshrining citizenship rights for all on an equal basis. The
affirmation of rights deprives the ruling elite of the power to dole
out privileges, which can be given and taken away as a bribe to toe the
line of the rich as they plunder the people's labour and resources and
line the people up to serve the striving of U.S. imperialism for world
domination. Only by affirming the rights of all can a genuinely free
equal union be entered into by all its constituent parts.
The chatter of Couillard, Harper and all the other
economic and social forces of the ruling elite is desperate talk to ban
the national question from the people's consciousness and agenda. They
do not recognize that Quebeckers are modern human
persons, with the capacity to see, hear, feel and analyze the world in
live and work, whose striving to be the decision-makers cannot be
banned out of existence.
How should we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the
which stopped Canada being annexed into the United States, and
preserved it for the British Empire? Let us make sure that in the two
years leading up to the anniversary, we firmly embark on a new course
to build a modern Canada and Quebec and renew nation-to- nation
relations with the First Nations, where the national
question is proudly on our agenda to be resolved.
Couillard, Harper and Co. are celebrating Confederation
on its historical context and embracing continentalism, which the
Confederation opposed. They are engaged in completing the annexation of
Canada and Quebec into the U.S. war machine, selling out the resources
that belong to the people by birthright, and trampling the rights
and well-being of the people in the mud. It must not pass!
All out to demand Constituent Assemblies in Quebec and
the rest of
Canada to enact a modern constitution that vests sovereignty in the
people, affirms the rights of all by virtue of being human, provides
those rights with guarantees, and develops a constitution that
redresses and ends once and for all the treaties and arrangements
territory, economy and institutions of Quebec, the First Nations and
to foreign powers.
1. The government of Spain and
all the ruling
elites of Europe have
launched a brutal campaign against the initiative of a referendum on
the independence of Catalonia set for November 9. The leader of the
Spanish government Mariano Rajoy said he will, "Use all means available
to prevent the holding of the referendum." On September 29,
the Constitutional Tribunal of Spain intervened "with insulting
rapidity," to use the words of the President of Catalonia Artur Mas, to
suspend the referendum and stop all preparations.
Hollow Declarations Will Not Extinguish Quebeckers'
Striving for a Modern Constitution
Prime Minister Harper and Quebec Premier Couillard
attended an event
in Quebec City on September 6 to commemorate the 200th
anniversary of the birth of George-Étienne Cartier, one of the
fathers of Confederation. Couillard used the occasion to announce that
he wanted to sign the Canadian constitution by 2017, the year
that marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
In his own speech on this occasion, Harper praised
helping to "shape Canada by promoting inclusiveness and respect across
It is a falsification of history and the height of
Harper and Couillard to use the name of George-Étienne Cartier
pretend to be nation builders. Every day they are actively planning to
place the land, labour and resources of Canada and Quebec at the
service of the United States of North American Monopolies and deny the
people to decent living standards and the democratic right to a say in
decisions that affect their lives.
No matter how hard they try, they cannot deny the fact
George-Étienne Cartier supported Confederation as a means to
nation-state which would be part of the British Empire. It required
creating a viable state capable of opposing the threat posed to the
British Dominions by the Americans. Couillard and Harper on the other
are channeling public funds into building energy and trade corridors
across the country to serve the needs of monopoly corporations and
destroying public institutions and eliminating all regulations and
barriers that interfere with the full integration of the economic,
political and military needs of the United States of North American
competition with other trade blocs.
Who does Mr. Couillard think he's fooling? Does he think
because he has a majority in the National Assembly, he can deny history
and reality? The fact is that he has no mandate to sign the Canadian
Constitution on behalf of Quebec. The people of Quebec have spoken on
this issue clearly and unequivocally!
Both the Meech Lake Accord and the referendum on the
Accord were soundly defeated not only in Quebec but in the rest of
Canada as well. At the time the political elite chose to ignore the
decision of the people and declared that they would carry on "business
as usual." The results of the referendum were not binding so they
continued ruling through executive power, because nothing in the
current arrangements impeded them from making changes they wanted
without amending the Constitution. This has left a constitutional and
political crisis in Quebec and Canada ever since that time.
What the situation demands is a genuine effort to
the constitutional and political process by involving the people in
governance and the writing of a new Constitution which meets the
requirements of the conditions of the 21st century.
the Committee to vote No to the
During the debates on the Meech Lake and Charlottetown
of the main objections heard across the country was that
"11 white men in suits were making decisions about the future of
the whole country behind closed doors." This was not acceptable then
and it is certainly not acceptable now. Thousands of people
spoke out against the proposals for constitutional changes which were
being pushed by the political elites. Through submissions to the Spicer
Commission in Canada and the Belanger-Campeau Commission in Quebec,
people demanded that politicians turn over the writing of a
constitution to the people and also asserted the right to decide on
exercising sovereignty. The description of Quebec as a "distinct
society" to be included in the Constitution was rejected and people
demanded nothing less than the recognition of the nation of Quebec and
its right to self-determination up to and including secession. People
across the country also demanded the recognition of the hereditary
First Nations as an important condition to build a modern voluntary and
The 73 per cent turnout for the referendum across Canada
and the rejection of the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 must not be
ignored. Instead of signing the Canadian Constitution of 1982 which is
based on the confines of the outdated British North America Act of
what the people of Quebec and the people of
Canada and First Nations need now is a modern constitution written by
the people themselves. It must be democratic and express the popular
will and serves the building of a future for the nation which vests
sovereignty not in the Queen but in the people and their
representatives, selected and elected from their own ranks and who can
be held to account.
Harper's Reference to
Couillard and Harper Do Not Want Canada and Quebec
Defined on a Modern Basis
1864 cartoon of
Confederation as a
starved monster which George-Étienne
trying to bring under
Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper does not
want to see
Canada and Quebec defined on a modern basis. At a September 6 ceremony
in Quebec City marking the
200th anniversary of the birth of George-Étienne Cartier, Harper
said that Cartier is "one of the great
architects of modern-day Canada,"
that he was "championing the rights and aspirations of the people of
Québec," and that he also "promoted inclusiveness and respect."
interpretation of George-Étienne Cartier's contribution is an
of the incredible efforts of behalf of the establishment to maintain a
system based on nineteenth century colonialism
and funded by global monopoly capital.
George-Étienne Cartier was born in 1814, in
Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, on Montreal's south shore. He was the son
of wealthy merchants -- his grandfather Jacques was in the grain trade
and represented the riding of Surrey (later Verchères) in
the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada.
He was part of the Patriotes' movement, yet was among
enthusiastically welcomed the accommodations imposed by the British
Crown to suppress the concept of a republic in Lower Canada, while
those who refused to submit were hanged or exiled. On September 20,
1838, Cartier therefore took
"the oath of allegiance to the British authorities demanded as a
condition of return for political emigrants. Later, he went to a
reception of the governor of Lower Canada."
He wrote at this time to
Charles Buller, secretary to Lord Durham that he had not "forfeited his
allegiance to the government of Her Majesty
in the province of Lower Canada."
September 24, 1844, he said, "There is no longer any danger of a return
to the events of 1837, caused by the actions of a minority which
desired to dominate the majority and exploit the government in its own
interests. The events of 1837 have
been badly interpreted. The object of the people was rather to reduce
this oppressive minority to nothingness than to bring about a
separation of the province from the mother-country."
Strong Supporter of "that Long Desired Constitution"
1839, Cartier returned to practising law. His main work was to make the
resources of Quebec available to England. He was powerful
lawyer of the railway and shipping companies -- all essential in
increasing the country's trade -- when
he was elected April 7, 1848 to the Legislative Assembly of United
Canada as MLA of Verchères. Cartier, among others, took the
present a statement to the Legislature in October 1849, against the two
manifestos of the Annexation Association of Montreal, founded in 1849,
a movement advocating the annexation
of Lower Canada to the United States.
The statement said, "Sincerely attached to the
institutions that the
motherland has recently recognized and convinced that these
institutions are sufficient to ensure, through a wise and judicious
legislature, prompt and effective remedy for all ills which the
province can raise, we believe we must hasten to protest
in a public way against the views expressed in this document. We think
we should at the same time [ ...] commit [the people of this country]
to oppose [ ...] agitation that undermines the constitution which has
been needed for so long [ ...] agitation which will only result in the
continuation of scenes from which
the city has already suffered so much, the overthrow of the social
order and the renewal of unrest and upheavals and the dire consequences
that we have already deplored."
In 1858 he went to London with two representatives of
Trunk -- the main owner of the railways in Canada -- Alexander Tilloch
Galt and John Ross, to present a proposal for the federation of the
provinces of British North America. The three men claimed that since
the Act of Union, the situation in
Canada was becoming increasingly tense. After boasting about the
increase in Canada's economy they emphasized that by authorizing a
confederation of the provinces the imperial English Government would be
able to establish "a dependence on the empire, advantageous in times of
peace, powerful in times of war
and its creation would forever eliminate the fear that the colonies
would increase the power of another nation."
Collaboration with John A. Macdonald to Impose
Cartier (front row, fifth from the right) at the
June 14, 1864 the Taché-Macdonald government was defeated "as a
result of a
censure in the house for neglecting to give effect to a loan previously
to the City of Montreal. In six years, it was the sixth ministry
overthrown; no group seemed capable of taking hold, and a general
election, the third in three years, did not seem to be a solution. Then
on 16 June after some days of manoeuvring, discreetly directed by Lord
Monck, a coalition ministry was formed;
its leader was theoretically Taché, but the real leaders on the
Conservative side were John A. Macdonald and Cartier." The mission
of this government was to bring about the confederation of all the
British colonies in North America.
In September 1864, before the Quebec conference and just
Charlottetown Conference, Cartier spoke to the delegates during a brief
meeting, "We have in Canada, it is true, the two principal elements of
nationality -- population and territory -- but we also know what we
[...] that other element absolutely
necessary to make a powerful nation, the maritime element [...] which
can only be accomplished by your uniting with us. You must not forget
on your part that though the Maritime Provinces are situated on the
seacoast, they will never be more than a string of hills and a seacoast
if they refuse to join us. [...]
"The provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
represent the arms
of the national body embracing the commerce of the Atlantic. No other
will furnish a finer head to this giant body than Prince Edward Island
"When we possess a federal government, one of the most
questions to settle will be that of the defence of the country. [...]
Their militia [of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia]
will furnish at least 200,000 men, and if we have the 60,000 marines
which the two Canadas and the
Maritime Provinces possess and the navy of Great Britain what nation
would be foolish enough to attack us?"
The Quebec conference began on October 10, 1864 with 33
of which two were from Newfoundland. Each colony had one vote and
Canada had two. The work continued until October 27 and issued 72
resolutions which were to be submitted to the provincial legislatures
that addressed "the maintenance
of the link with Britain; residual jurisdiction left to a central
authority; a bicameral system including a Lower House with
representation by population ('rep by pop') and an Upper House with
representation based on regional equality rather than provincial,
equality; a government responsible at the federal and provincial
levels; appointed by the British crown of a governor general to be
appointed by the British crown."
As in the Halifax conference, the
debates were held behind closed doors.
At the Banquet for the delegates of the Quebec
continued to argue in favour of submitting to the British crown. He
said, "Firstly, confederation will give rise to an increase in trade
between provinces, and also between the provinces and England. In reply
to the objections raised by the extreme
French-Canadian party, and the annexationist or American Party, I will
say that if the present movement succeeds there will be a central
government, whose attributions will embrace all general interests, and
local governments to which will be committed provincial affairs and
properties: administration of justice, crown
lands, prisons, hospitals, charitable institutions, etc. [ ... ]"
George-Étienne Cartier, the "Pacific Scandal"
the Ouster of Louis Riel as a Candidate
The Macdonald-Cartier government sought funding for the
1872 election from
Sir Hugh Allan, a shipping magnate and railway builder from Montreal.
He provided them with $350,000 from American investors.
"After the election, a railway syndicate organized by
rewarded with the lucrative contract to build the Canadian Pacific
Railway -- the trans-continental railroad promised to British Columbia
when it joined Confederation. Allan was given the contract on the
assumption that he would remove American
control on the syndicate's board of directors. But Allan, unknown to
Macdonald, had used American money to supply the campaign funds to the
Conservatives, creating an awkward situation."
This forced the Macdonald government to resign in October 1873.
Meanwhile, Cartier had been
defeated in the 1872 election.
"Instead of seeking election in another Quebec riding,
have required the resignation of a Conservative member and probably
resulted in a contested election, Cartier agreed to stand in
Provencher, Manitoba, where Louis Riel and Henry James Clarke were
contestants. The latter gave up his candidacy
at the request of the lieutenant governor, Adams George Archibald. As
for Riel, he withdrew after much hesitation, acceding to the earnest
requests of Alexandre-Antonin Taché, archbishop of
was happy to avert in this way the complications that the presence of
the Métis leader would certainly
have brought about at Ottawa. Cartier therefore had no opponent and was
elected in September 1872 without even going to the riding, which he
was never to see."
Henri-Julien titled "Aeneas After the Sinking",
published in 1873 after
the Pacific Scandal,
referring to the sinking of the Conservative Party of John A.
In fact after his defeat in Montreal, Cartier went to
he died on May 20 1873. Since 1868 he had been appointed a baronet by
Queen Victoria, "in honour of his important contribution to
institutional reform and the forging of the Confederation."
George-Étienne Cartier is far from someone who
represents the enlightened ideas of the 19th century of the Republic
and the concept of the affirmation of citizenship rights. He is the
spokesperson of those for whom national development rests with private
interests and who do everything in their power to be worthy of the
privileges that private interests may or may not grant them. Harper
lays claim to this anachronistic DNA and Quebec Premier Philippe
Couillard shares the same genes. The thirst for the new by the people
in Quebec, Canada and the First Nations require that nation-building be
based on a human-centred self-reliant economy, not economic and
political domination by any foreign power, whether from Europe or the
United States of North American monopolies.
1. "Sir George Étienne
Cartier," Dictionary of
de l'histoire du Québec. Translated by Chantier politique.
5. G.E. Cartier, John
Ross, A.T. Galt -- Letter in Favour of
6. "Sir George Étienne
Cartier," Dictionary of
7. Discours de Sir
Georges Cartier, baronnet, Sir
8. Library and Archives
Canada -- Towards Confederation.
9. Discours de Sir
Georges Cartier, baronnet, Sir
10. The Canadian
11. "Sir George Étienne
Cartier," Dictionary of
12. Parks Canada -- Sir
George-Étienne Cartier National Historic
Site of Canada.
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