The Clarity Act is not one that is referenced very often in the cafes and coffee shops that I visit on a regular basis throughout Okanagan-Coquihalla. However, it is a topic that has been very prominently part of the discussion on Parliament Hill this past week. For those of you unfamiliar with the Clarity Act, this is a law created under the former Chretien Liberal Government that ultimately stated the provisions on how any province, but more specifically Quebec, could potentially leave Canada- a process also known as “secession” in Parliamentary terms. The Legislation was passed in 2000, some five years after the 1995 Quebec referendum on separation. As can be expected, it was a controversial bill (Bill C20) at that time and was not universally supported in the House of Commons and was widely opposed by Quebec provincial political parties. One key aspect of this legislation was that ultimately the Federal Government, as opposed to the Quebec Provincial Government, maintains the ability to override a referendum decision with respect to secession. This is a somewhat brief and simplified summary of the Clarity Act which would also require an amendment to the Canadian Constitution for any Province to leave the federation.
An MP from the Bloc Quebecois has recently sponsored Bill C-457 that proposes to repeal the Clarity Act and suggests that the Quebec Provincial Government and not the Federal Government should ultimately have jurisdiction with respect to the secession of Quebec. In response, NDP leader Tom Mulcair, through a NDP MP, has introduced Bill C-470. Among some of the language in Bill C-470 is the principle that “the Quebec nation has the right to democratically decide its own future”. One key part of the NDP proposal is the following clause that “the majority of valid votes are cast in favour of the proposed change”. This requirement means that a simple majority of 50% plus 1 could, in effect, open negotiations for Quebec to leave Canada. The major concern heard around Parliament Hill thus far is that the NDP, through Bill C-470, is making it easier for Quebec to leave Canada largely for political reasons given that much of the NDP caucus comes from the Province of Quebec. In response, the comment from the NDP is largely that Bill C-470 provides more clarity to the process of secession and how it might work in reality. Others have indicated that the bar for the separation of Quebec from Canada is being set to low by the NDP as well as the fact that Bill C-470 is unnecessary. While the debate this week has certainly been interesting, I am personally not supportive of either bill. As a legislator I would like Parliament to focus on creating more jobs & investment, building a more skilled workforce and ensuring the safety of our streets. As a Canadian, I am proud to be part of a strong and united country. Ultimately there will be a vote in the House of Commons and I welcome your views.
Also this week we will be the phasing out of the Penny… as I reported in my April 16th MP report the Royal Canadian Mint will no longer be distributing the penny. Although the penny will retain its value indefinitely, our Government encourages Canadians to either redeem them at financial institutions or consider donating them to charity. In the absence of the penny, a process of rounding up or down (affecting cash transactions only) as follows: For transaction between $1.01 and $1.02 cents the total would be rounded down to $1.00 For amounts of $1.03 - $1.04 would be rounded up to $1.05 while conversely amounts of $1.06-$ 1.07 would also be rounded down to $1.05 and an amount of $1.08 or $1.09 would be rounded to $1.10. If you have a further question on this topic, please visit my website at www.danalbas.com/penny or call my office at 1 (800) 665-8711.
As I am running out of space in this week’s report, here is a brief summary of some of the Bills that are before the House of Commons this week: There will be continued debate on Government Bills C-52 Fair Rail Freight Service Act and Bill C-48 Technical Tax Amendment Act that I referenced last week. New Private Members Bills C-464 An Act to amend the Canada Labor Code (parental leave for multiple births or adoptions), Bill-462 Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act, Bill C-266 Pope John Paul II Act, Bill C-459 Air Passengers Bill of Rights, Bill C-383 Transboundary Waters Protection Act and Motion M-400 Homes Not Connected To A Sanitation System. Votes this week will potentially occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If you would like further information on these or any Bills before the house or to pass on your comments or questions please do not hesitate to give me a call.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.