Your online editorial on the NDP’s position (NDP Bid To Repeal Clarity Act Is A Bad Move For Canada – Jan. 29) is reasonable. Thomas Mulcair’s proposal might be popular in Quebec, but it risks alienating Quebec federalists and voters in the rest of Canada.
That said, one must also address the consequences of Ottawa’s refusal to negotiate secession in the event of a clear question supported by a 50-per-cent-plus-one majority. Supporters of Quebec sovereignty would not take kindly to that. There could be considerable unrest and pressure for a unilateral declaration of independence. On the other hand, a Quebec government with a majority of one would have a very weak hand in any negotiations with Ottawa. It would also have to deal with its own internal opposition to secession. Chaos could result.
It would therefore be in the sovereigntists’ interests to propose a higher threshold – say 60 per cent. This would give Quebec more leverage. Of course, achieving 60 per cent support for secession would be a more difficult threshold, but then, breaking up a country is a pretty serious matter. It should not be impossible, but nor should it be easy.
Tony Manera, Ottawa
Mr. Mulcair is making the same mistake Mohamed Morsi is making in Egypt. Half of a population cannot make a major choice that will impact all the population. Half the population should not be forced to live with a decision made by the other half.
A 75-per-cent yes vote would be more acceptable. A majority plus one formula would be a recipe for unrest.
Trev Jones, Stoney Creek, Ont.
I agree with rescinding the Clarity Act, but for a different reason.
Most Canadians would be surprised to know that Canada is the only country in the world with a formula for separation, embodied in the Clarity Act. (By way of contrast, the first article in the French Constitution states that France is “indivisible.”)
After the second referendum in Quebec, Ottawa referred the question of separation to the Supreme Court of Canada, which concluded that Quebec does not have, under Canadian or international law, the right to effect secession unilaterally. That should have settled the issue once and for all, for Quebec and any other province or region.
The Clarity Act should be replaced with an act that disallows any part of Canada from separating. It should then go a step further and be embodied in the Constitution.
Burford Ploughman, St. John’s
Women in politics
As a 26-year-old woman – with a male twin – who intends to run for office, I was disappointed to read Kim Campbell’s lazy idea for “instant” gender parity (We Need A Commitment To Gender Parity In Public Life – Jan. 29). Her suggestion is problematic because it implies that men should compete only against other men, and women only against fellow women.
An elected woman doesn’t necessarily exhaustively express women’s interests – in the same way that a man isn’t in public office governing solely for or representing men. Our politicians should endeavour to represent all constituents, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, height or other distinguishing features.
To illustrate the absurdity of the argument, why don’t we also elect a visible minority in each riding so that we have instant parity in that capacity as well? We could also extend her argument to “token” representation from an immigrant or an aboriginal person. What about someone over and under 45?
Vass Bednar, Action Canada Fellow, Toronto
Letter-writer Armida Spada-Mcdougall criticizes The Globe for mentioning that Kathleen Wynne is Ontario’s first openly gay premier (Jan. 29). She asks: “Using your standards of what constitutes relevant information, how should I sign off on this letter? Should I say mother, grandmother, retiree, divorcee, a lover of fine wines and opera?”
If teenagers were routinely rejected by their parents or driven to suicide because they loved opera, then yes, it would be relevant to mention and celebrate the moment when the first opera lover became leader of our province.
Ian Cosh, Toronto
PM’s direct hand
In Gloria Galloway’s Newsmaker interview with Shawn Atleo (Jan. 28), she writes that Mr. Atleo “came away with a commitment that the Prime Minister would take a more direct hand in first nations affairs – a promise that could help lift complex negotiations on treaty rights and land claims out of the lower levels of federal bureaucracy, where they tend to languish.”
Federal bureaucrats have worked diligently to reach agreements on land claims but cannot make progress without political support for mandates that reflect recent court decisions and first nations’ needs for self-determination and economic viability. I am delighted to hear that Mr. Harper will continue to take a direct hand in first nations affairs. Let’s hope the results will be reinvigorated processes to reconcile relationships between governments and aboriginal people in a respectful and sincere manner.
Lynne Partel, Victoria
Having served as a Queen’s representative (Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor, 2004 to 2009) does not make me an expert on the question that comes to mind after the sudden abdication (As One Queen Lets Go, Another Hangs On – Jan. 29) of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Namely, should our own Queen follow suit?
Before offering an answer, I should point out that I think that Canada and all Commonwealth countries have been blessed by our Queen’s 60 years of service. She has done an amazing job. Her devotion to duty is unparalleled. However, the tradition that precludes a well-deserved retirement for our monarch makes no sense at all. Why shouldn’t she have the opportunity to put her feet up and enjoy the twilight years without the heavy burdens of official duties?
Most Canadians, I believe, would grant her that, and few would ask her to serve until death intervenes. The Dutch got it right – here in the Commonwealth, where traditions die hard, we have work to do.
John Harvard, PC, OM, Winnipeg
Moses Znaimer says of Conrad Black (He’s Back: Black Coming To Vision TV – Jan. 29): “He’s the best dinner guest you might ever imagine.”
All I can think is, “At which dining table in hell would that meal be held?”
John T.M. Anderson, Guelph, Ont.
I fail to see how this is going to be a chat show, since the host rarely shuts up.
Tony Burson, Campinas, Brazil