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Interpreting Quebec’s Exile Within the Federation

Selected Political Essays


Guy Laforest

This book combines the approaches of political theory and of intellectual history to provide a lucid account of Québec’s contemporary situation within the Canadian federation.
Guy Laforest considers that the province of Québec, and its inhabitants, are exiled within Canada. They are not fully integrated, politically and constitutionally, nor are they leaving the federation, for now and for the foreseeable future. They are in between these two predicaments. Laforest provides insights into the current workings of the Canadian federation, and some of its key figures of the past fifty years, such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau, René Lévesque, Stephen Harper and Claude Ryan.
The book also offers thought-provoking studies of thinkers and intellectuals such as James Tully, Michel Seymour and André Burelle. Laforest revisits some key historical documents and events, such as the Durham Report and the 1867 and 1982 constitutional documents. He offers political and constitutional proposals that could contribute to help Québec moving beyond the current predicament of internal exile.
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Chapter 7: Some Reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor Commission


← 110 | 111 → CHAPTER 7

Some Reflections on the Bouchard-Taylor Commission

The Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences was created in February 2007 following a series of incidents that received a great deal of attention in the media and that the Commission’s Report itself described as related to increasing identity anxiety between Québec’s French-speaking majority and its cultural and religious minorities. The Commission completed the essential task of holding public consultations, which was broadly relayed by the media in the fall of 2007. This was among the two or three most influential of such exercises over the last twenty years in Québec. A few basic statistics are sufficient to establish the Commission’s quantitative impact: over 3000 people attended some twenty regional forums, its website received half a million hits, 901 people submitted briefs (the authors of 300 of these briefs were invited to testify). The opportunities to engage in interactive participatory democracy offered by the Commission generated some 120,000 responses on its website. The Commission also held four province-wide forums, established several expert panels, and piloted a number of major research projects. Its overall cost was about $3.7 million.

As it had already announced in a consultation document published at the end of the summer of 2007, the Bouchard-Taylor Commission expanded its mandate well beyond the legal dimension of reasonable accommodation, considered as a way of creating flexibility to counteract the discriminatory nature of apparently neutral norms and to...

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