and the Constitution: Conditions for Constitutional Success, (1763-1867)
Department of History,
main factors must be taken into consideration when writing a constitution for
- To deal effectively
with the distinctiveness of Ouebec;
create conditions that will generate prosperity.
l. To deal with the distinctiveness of Quebec, two postures are possible:
To recognize the different character of Quebec in having a population with
- A different language (French);
laws ("laws of Canada" or French civil laws);
different religion (Roman Catholicism);
social institutions (religious, familial or social eg. the seigneurial system
or the cooperative movement);
a different culture from the British and/or the North American environment.
This position recognizes Quebec as a national community that needs to be dealt
with differently from other British (or Canadian) entities and have its identity/distinctiveness
recognized and preserved in the Constitution. This type of recognition was accorded
to Quebec in 1774, partly in 1791, and in 1867; it was clearly evident in the
Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and in the Chalottetown Agreement of 1992 = Recognition
B) The second
posture that can be adopted in relation to the distinctiveness of Quebec is to
eliminate it; that is to seek to assimilate its population.
Assimilate means to render similar to the others (British or Canadians) and not continue
to be separate from others. Assimilation meant for the "Canadiens" to
- British laws;
laws being a reflection of one's culture.
institutions, political, social or economical.
- (eventually) British
was official policy in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, partly so in 1791, was
sponsored in the Durham Report in 1839 and was official policy in the Union Act
of 1840-41. If successful, and not resisted by the population, assimilation would
be a factor of unity as community of culture is usually conducive to community
must create conditions (atmosphere, legal, territorial or otherwise) which will
help generate prosperity:
For the government (British or Canadian): for example a proper tax system, tariffs
b) For the business class (very powerful in the past);
c) For the
people as well.
prosperity, you require political stability, and the cooperation between the various
people and classes in Canada. Under the type of economy (staples: fur, timber,
wheat) we especially had in the XIXth Century, you also required that the St.Lawrence/Great
Lakes system be kept under a single political entity. To this day, the economic
well-being of most Canadians requires that all of its parts cooperate economically
together (even under sovereignty-association). The economic factors are factors
1998 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College