Mulcair Warns Against Quebec Sovereignty, But Revives Talk Of Sherbrooke Declaration

Posted: Updated:

QUEBEC - Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair criticized Quebec sovereignty on Tuesday but also brandished the nationalist card by promising Quebecers a special status in Canada if his party forms the government in this fall's election.

Quebec separating from Canada would hurt the middle class, Mulcair told reporters after a visit to a Quebec City microbrewery one day before Wednesday's Fete nationale, a celebration often used by sovereigntists to rally support for their cause.

Independence is "a vision that risks really hurting the middle class," Mulcair said, adding his goal in politics is to "help families" as opposed to "making them suffer through constitutional wrangling."

But Mulcair, who was environment minister under a previous Quebec Liberal government, reminded reporters of his party's so-called Sherbrooke Declaration of 2005, a document that stated Quebec should be granted "specific powers and room for manoeuvring."

With that declaration, the party endorsed the principle of recognizing a referendum victory by the sovereigntist Yes side, even if it were by a majority of 50 per cent plus one.

That clashes with the federal Clarity Act, which calls for the need for a "clear majority."

Moreover, the declaration offers "asymmetrical federalism," meaning Quebec would be given the right to opt out of federal programs that touch on provincial jurisdiction. Quebec would also receive "full compensation."

Mulcair reiterated that the Sherbrooke Declaration is his party's official position vis-a-vis Quebec's relationship with Ottawa.

"It's clear this political offer remains at the heart of our approach with Quebecers," he said.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau responded by accusing Mulcair of pandering to Quebec nationalists.

"On the St. Jean Baptiste, Quebec's national holiday, that Mr. Mulcair would decide to make this announcement about repealing the Clarity Act and making it easier to break up the country is just the worst kind of politics," he said in an interview.

"The fact that he's choosing to bring this up as an effort to pander to votes in Quebec, I think is exactly the wrong thing."

In his travels around Quebec, Trudeau said he's found people want to talk about jobs, the economy, the environment and health care, not the legal requirements for secession. And he said he shares their priorities.

Also on HuffPost:

FLASHBACK: The 1995 Quebec Referendum
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Tom Mulcair takes NDP pitch to Toronto business crowd

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair makes his case to be Prime Minister

Mulcair benefits from sparse scrutiny

NDP will try to make Senate abolition an election issue, Thomas Mulcair says

Why Quebeckers are ready to embrace Tom Mulcair

Mulcair, in with a chance

Tom Mulcair brings election promises to CUPE convention

'That's not true,' Mulcair denies report NDP repayments will start July 1