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Referendum Study

Referendum Study

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Published by Henry Ford

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Published by: Henry Ford on Aug 05, 2012
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Popular vetoes authorize a specified number of electors to demand the
repeal of a law. If Parliament refuses to comply, a referendum on the
law in question will be organized. The Weimar Constitution contains an
example of popular veto.

Page - 11

Although the use of referendums is not customary in Canadian politics,
the country has nonetheless witnessed several consultative referendums
(Appendix I). Three referendums have been held at the national level:
the 1898 plebiscite on Prohibition, that of 1942 on Conscription and the
last of 1992 on the renewal of the Canadian Constitution.

At the federal level, there was no general law governing referendums
prior to 1992. There were a few previous attempts at introducing such
legislation, but none bore fruit. Since June 1992, the federal government
has had a law entitled the “Referendum Act”.

The most important provincial referendums have undoubtedly been the
1948 vote on the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation, the 1980
referendum on sovereignty-association in Québec, the 1992 referendum
on renewal of the Canadian Constitution and the 1995 referendum in
Québec on its constitutional future. Most other referendums were on
questions related to Prohibition or daylight saving time. In 1982, the
Northwest Territories held a vote on the division of its territory;
Manitoba organized a constitutional referendum in 1983 on recognition
of the language rights of Francophones; Prince Edward Island consulted
the people in 1988 on the advisability of linking the Island with New

Certain provinces have associated the referendum process with the elec-
toral process. This is particularly true of British Columbia and
Saskatchewan. Three questions were submitted to the Saskatchewan
electorate during the October 1991 general elections. Electors voted at
that time in favour of a law on the budget framework and on the holding
of provincial referendums to ratify constitutional amendments, but 62.7%
of the voters were against the State’s assuming the cost of abortions.22

British Columbia and Saskatchewan have passed legislation on referen-
dums. Ontario, and Nova Scotia are the only provinces that have not
adopted legislative provisions concerning referendums (Appendix II).


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