Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau slammed NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's stance on introducing a new bill that would combine the NDP's Sherbrooke Declaration on sovereignty in Quebec with the Clarity Act, keeping the NDP's resolution to recognize a 50-per-cent-plus-one vote in any future referendum.
Speaking to reporters in Calgary, Trudeau said, "You cannot be half-pregnant on the question of Canadian unity … for me, it's absolutely unacceptable."
Trudeau was referring to the fact that while the NDP says it will oppose a Bloc Québécois bill to repeal the Clarity Act, the law that mandates a clear question and clear majority in any Quebec referendum, it has tabled an act of its own that upholds the 50-per-cent-plus-one majority for a vote on secession.
The NDP's bill, a private member's bill entitled an Act Respecting Democratic Institutional Change, was tabled Monday by NDP MP Craig Scott.
The bill would retain the Clarity Act's insistence on a clear question in any referendum, and would uphold the part that says that secession must be negotiated with other parties after a referendum in which 50-per-cent-plus-one of the Quebec population voted to separate.
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Bill C-457, an Act to Repeal the Clarity Act, was introduced in October by Bloc MP André Bellavance. In support of the bill, Bloc Leader Daniel Paillé wrote a letter to all the party leaders except the Green's Elizabeth May, arguing that since they voted to recognize the Quebec people as a nation in 2006, they must realize that a nation has the right to decide its own destiny in its own way.
[The NDP] is on the hot seat now, because in 2005 it adopted its Sherbrooke Declaration, which states the NDP would recognize a 50-per-cent-plus-one vote in a referendum on the political status of Quebec. The declaration was part of the NDP's attempt to make significant inroads into the province of Quebec, which it saw as its path to eventually forming government.
Speaking in defence of the Clarity Act, its author Liberal MP Stéphane Dion asked if 50-per-cent-plus-one is a clear majority, then what could be an unclear majority?
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The introduction of a bill that has no chance of passing may be its first shot in flushing out the views of the NDP on whether it backs its own Sherbrooke Declaration or supports the Clarity Act.