From LABOR-L@YorkU.CA Mon Jan 17 06:00:26 2000
Open letter in support of the democratic right to self-determination for Quebec
From Gary Kinsman, 16 January 2000
Below is the open letter as it currently stands with 30 initial signers.
30 is a good number to start with but it has been more difficult to contact people through email than I anticipated so it is going a bit slower than I would like. The list is rather 'boy' heavy as you can see and I hope this can be remedied soon. I am sure once we get the ball rolling that we will get a lot more supporters. A number of suggestions for improvement have been made to the text and most of these I have been able to incorporate in one fashion or another. Judy Rebick is going to do some more editing of the statement to make it more accessible over the next few days and I will send out the final, final version to you soon. But the content is not going to change so you may wish to forward this version to other people who you think may be interested in supporting it. Supporters can contact me at GKinsman@Nickel.Laurentian.ca or by calling (705) 670-1420. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I hope the way I have described you is OK -- if there are any problems please let me know. I am still not quite sure what to do with the supportive organizations. I have begun to make a list of them at the end. Is this what you think is best? Obviously we need to get some more if this list is going to be viable. Please get back to me before Tuesday since on Wed. morning I will try to distribute the letter through as many email networks as I can to get more support. I will also forward this version of the open letter to a few more people over the next couple of days to try to get their support. Take care.
The Chretien government's "Clarity Act" is a cause for alarm for all supporters of democratic rights. This act denies the democratic right of the people of Quebec to decide their own future. It does this through subordinating the right to self-determination of the people of Quebec to the federal parliament of Canada which will now grant itself (and only itself) the right to establish the "clarity" of the question and to determine whether a "clear majority" has expressed itself in any referendum. These are decisions that can only be made by the people of Quebec.
The authoritarian "Clarity Act" raises the stakes by requiring something more than a simple majority; and changes the rules by making the federal government the judge of whether Quebec's referendum question is "clear."
This legislation if passed could mean that despite a democratic expression of the people of Quebec in favour of sovereignty (or sovereignty-association) that the federal government, acting unilaterally, would refuse to recognize the result of the democratic process in Quebec by claiming that 50% plus one of the vote was not enough or that the question people had voted on was not "clear" enough and was therefore invalid.
Furthermore the act if passed prevents the federal government from fulfilling its democratic obligation to negotiate in good faith with the government of Quebec following a successful 'yes' vote. These proposals are an affront to all who believe in the democratic right of people and societies to determine their own futures.
Since the narrow defeat of the "yes" side in the 1995 Quebec referendum, the Liberal government has adopted a policy of threats towards Quebec and especially the millions of its people who support sovereignty. There have been no proposals from the federal government that seriously address the national concerns of the people of Quebec, only proposals to restrict the democratic rights of the people of Quebec.
Canada is a multinational country. Aboriginal peoples and the people of Quebec have raised a series of objections to the structure of the federal state in Canada. They have insisted that they -- and they alone as distinct nations -- need to have the right to determine their own futures. We affirm the democratic right of aboriginal peoples and the people of Quebec to self-determination in a context free of coercion. Ottawa's anti-democratic attempt to dispute this right for the people of
Quebec must not go unopposed. If the federal government can deny this right of the people of Quebec, they will be in a stronger position to deny the right of self-determination to aboriginal peoples too.
When democratic rights are violated for the people of Quebec, or for aboriginal peoples, all of our rights are under attack. We remember the October 1970 imposition of the War Measures Act when hundreds of activists were rounded up in Quebec and across the rest of Canada by the army and police. And we remember the massive 1990 Canadian military intervention against the land claims of the Mohawk Nation at Oka-Kanehsatake. We seek to prevent a repetition of such attacks on people's rights. Real equality and solidarity between peoples can only be based on support for democratic rights including the right to national self-determination.
We call for the withdrawal of the "Clarity Act" and the end of all threats and intimidation against the right of the Quebec people to determine their own future. At the same time, we affirm the right of aboriginal self-determination both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. We commit ourselves to an ongoing campaign of public actions -- letters, statements, meetings and events -- to prevent the subversion of democratic rights and to promote solidarity and cooperation between the many peoples living in the Canadian state. We will not tolerate, by our silence, any attempt to bully or imprison subordinated peoples in the name of "national unity".
Mary Louise Adams, Assistant Professor, Physical and Health Education, Queen's University*, and author of The Trouble With Normal.
Greg Albo, Department of Political Science, York University.*
Diane Albrecht, Co-chair, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Left Caucus.
Bruce Allen, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union activist, St. Catharines.
Jonnie Bakan, Shop Steward, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903, York University.*
Tarek Fateh, Editor and Host, the Muslim Chronicle on Vision TV*
Joe Flexer, NDP Socialist Caucus*
Marcel Hatch, Co-chair NDP Socialist Caucus*
Tariq Amin Khan, anti-racist activist, Toronto.
Gary Kinsman, gay and social justice activist, Sudbury, and author of The Regulation of Desire.
Tadelle M. Kitaba, African Advisory Committee of the Ontario NDP*
Harold Lavender, activist, writer, editorial board member New Socialist, Vancouver.
Janet Maher, women's and health issues activist.
Ravi Malhotra, Disability Rights Activist and member of the NDP*
D'Arcy Martin, Labour Educator, SEIU, Service Employees International Union-Canada*
Peter Matilainen, Steward, Non-Academic Staff Association, University of
Doug McCorquodale, British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpernters*
Colin Mooers, Department of Politics and School of Public Administration, Ryerson Polytechnical University.*
Jim Naylor, Associate Professor, Department of History, Brandon University.*
John Ozborn, Industrial Workers of the World*
Greg Pavelich, Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario member at large steering committee, member steering committee of the June 13th Committee.*
Edward Pickersgill, Founding Director, Matrix Affordable Homes for the Disadvantaged Inc., Guelph, Ontario*
Dawson Pratt, President North Bay and District Labour Council, OFL Executive Council Member, OPSEU Local 657 Vice-President, and Nipissing NDP Riding executive member*
Judy Rebick, writer, broadcaster.
Alan Sears, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Windsor*
Wally Seccombe, Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education*
Michel Seymour, Philosophy Professor, Universite de Montreal.*
Tony Tracy, Vancouver activist, member of the B.C. NDP Socialist Caucus.*
Andrea Waywanko, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) Local 002,
Vice-President Alberta Federation of Labour (representing AUPE)*
Barry Weisleder, NDP Socialist Caucus*
* for identification purposes only.
Canadian Auto Workers, Left Caucus