0aéhec's Vo|ce aad a 0ho|ce for a 0|ffereat 0aaada

Iedera||sm, Soc|a|-0emocrac) aad the 0aéhec 0aest|oa

Statemeat adopted h) the 0eaera| 0oaac||
of the N0P 0aéhec Sect|oa

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Iah|e of 0oateats

1. A social democratic go·ernment in (anada ........................................................................................................... 3
2. lederalism and social democracv ............................................................................................................................. 4
3. Recognition oí Ouébec`s national character........................................................................................................... 4
4. Asvmmetrical íederalism............................................................................................................................................ 5
5. \orking together and with respect: cooperati·e íederalism................................................................................ 6
6. Ouébec`s right to selí-determination ....................................................................................................................... ¯
¯. 1he íuture..................................................................................................................................................................... 8

´tatevevt aaoptea iv írevcb by tbe Ceverat Covvcit ot tbe ^DP tOvebec ´ectiov) iv ´berbroo/e ov May ¨
. 200:. )e·t
eaitea by tbe Poticy Covvittee ot tbe ^DP tOvebec ´ectiov) ov October 2ó
. 200:.
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1. A soc|a| democrat|c eorerameat |a 0aaada

he New Democratic Partv aims to íorm the
Go·ernment oí (anada. It is once in
go·ernment that we will be able to
implement concretelv the progressi·e social
democratic ·alues and policies that shape our

Ií it is to trulv and
legitimatelv íorm the
Go·ernment oí
(anada one dav. the
NDP must ha·e
strong support
throughout the
countrv. Speciíicallv. that means that the NDP
has to make signiíicant inroads in Ouébec in the
medium and long term. 1he Ouébec question has
all too oíten been a stumbling block íor the NDP.
lowe·er. Ouébec must become the cornerstone
oí a mo·ement aiming to íorm a go·ernment.

Since (oníederation. (anada has been go·erned
bv either the Liberals or the (onser·ati·es.
1odav. the Bloc québécois not onlv relegates
Ouebeckers to a reacti·e and deíensi·e role. but
also splits the ·ote and undermines the
emergence oí a united leít in (anada.

1he New Democratic Partv denounces
particularlv the lack oí ·ision oí the Liberal Partv
oí (anada which brought us directlv to. íor
example. to the Adscam. 1he question oí the
place oí Ouébec in (anada will be sol·ed with
good íaith. ílexibilitv and recognition. not with
corrupted programs. \e ha·e now a chance to
propose a new ·ision oí íederalism. with
progressi·e and social democratic ·alues that we
share with a majoritv oí Ouebeckers.

1he New Democratic Partv íeels it has a dutv to
spell out its stand on the issue oí Ouébec`s place
in (anada. 1he NDP has to be clear and
consistent on the issue. not onlv íor Ouebeckers.
but íor all (anadians. As social democrats. we
ha·e to present and communicate our own ·ision
oí íederal-pro·incial
relations. especiallv
when it comes to
Ouébec. \e cannot
simplv íollow the lead
oí other parties in that

1his declaration is a complement to and a
clariíication oí the Social Democratic lorum on
the luture oí (anada adopted bv the 1999 íederal
con·ention: it does not make obsolete the other
positions taken earlier. such as the ones on
bilingualism. multiculturalism. Aboriginal rights.
reíorm oí íederal institutions. and so on. 1his
declaration. like the Social Democratic lorum on
the luture oí (anada Report. represents
íramework resolutions. which guide the
interpretation oí other positions that ha·e alreadv
been taken or that mav be taken in the íuture.

1he ideas and approaches in this document can.
in a large part. be applied in the present context
without íormal constitutional reíorm. lowe·er.
the íact Ouébec did not sign the (onstitution is a
real untenable problem in the long term.
1hereíore. we are aiming in the medium term to
get results that could allow Ouébec to embrace
the (anadian constitutional íramework. 1he
·ision presented in the next pages. particularlv on
the recognition oí Ouébec` distincti·eness. could
contribute to this.
Ihe oaest|oa of the p|ace of 0aéhec |a
0aaada w||| he so|red w|th eood fa|th,
f|et|h|||t) aad recoea|t|oa, aot w|th corrapted
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2. Iedera||sm aad soc|a| democrac)

ederalism is a political structure based on
the principle oí di·ision oí powers
between a lederal State countrv, and
íederated States pro·inces. cantons. etc.,. It is
essentiallv a svstem oí shared so·ereigntv that
implies respect íor speciíic areas oí jurisdiction.
1he pro·incial go·ernments. thereíore. are not
simplv subcontractors` oí the íederal
go·ernment. A State built on the principle oí
íederalism is diííerent írom a Unitarian state.
where all go·ernment power is concentrated at a
single central le·el.

1he New Democratic Partv belie·es that. in the
(anadian context. a íederal state is the best wav
to ensure a íair and cooperati·e societv íor the
good oí the indi·iduals. communities and peoples
which make up that societv.

1he New Democratic Partv. unlike the Liberal or
(onser·ati·e Parties. belie·es that societv cannot
be based solelv on the primacv oí the indi·idual.
\e ha·e to rethink the commonalities between a
new ·ision oí social democracv and a new ·ision
oí íederalism. 1hat necessarv process has to be
based on the principles oí common good.
collecti·e rights. democracv. social and political
in·ol·ement. respect íor communities oí origin.
solidaritv. cooperation. etc.

3. kecoea|t|oa of 0aéhec's aat|oaa| character

or decades. manv expressions were used to
trv to name the Ouébec diííerence` and
its special relation with the rest oí (anada
such as the íounding people`. distinct societv`.
unique character`. etc. In August 1999. the
Social Democratic lorum on the luture oí
(anada reíerred to the recognition oí Ouebeckers
as a people`. Our 2004 election platíorm
speciíicallv mentioned recognition oí the Ouébec
nation`. 1he time has now come to reaííirm
and clariív that concept.

1he New
Democratic Partv
recognizes the
national character
oí Ouébec and
belie·es that that
character can be
expressed in the
context oí the (anadian íederation.

1he national character oí Ouébec is based
primarilv. but not exclusi·elv. on:

i. a primarilv lrancophone societv in which
lrench is recognized as the language oí
work and the common public language:
ii. a speciíic culture. unique in America. that
is expressed bv a sense oí identitv with
and belonging to Ouébec:
iii. a speciíic historv:
i·. its own political. economic. cultural and
social institutions. including go·ernment
institutions and institutions in ci·il

1he people oí
Ouébec. especiallv
since the Ouiet
Re·olution. ha·e
expressed a clear
desire to « Vi·re
ensemble » and build
a social and political
project based on solidaritv. 1he construction oí a
modern state and a social blueprint íor
Ouebeckers has centered around the Ouébec
State. \e commend Ouebeckers íor establishing
institutions allowing them to de·elop diííerentlv
in linguistic. social. cultural and economic terms.
Ihe New 0emocrat|c Part) recoea|tes the
aat|oaa| character of 0aéhec aad he||eres
that that character caa he etpressed |a the
coatett of the 0aaad|aa federat|oa.
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In that context. the role oí the íederal
go·ernment was more oíten than not ·iewed as
secondarv or peripheral. 1hat ·ision ob·iouslv
contrasts with the ·ision put íorward bv a
majoritv oí people in the other pro·inces who see
the íederal go·ernment as their national`
go·ernment and the pro·inces as plaving a
secondarv role.

In short. the process oí creating an identitv and
national institutions is diííerent be it in Ouébec or
elsewhere. 1hat is one oí the knots oí the
(anadian dilemma. 1hat is the solution
asvmmetrv aims to pro·ide: enabling those two
·isions to co-exist.

\e thereíore acknowledge that Ouebeckers`
sense oí belonging to (anada is diííerent írom
that oí the (anadian majoritv. 1hat special sense
oí belonging and identitv is not. howe·er.
incompatible with ílexible. cooperati·e
íederalism. lullv understood and recognized.
Ouébec nationalism can be a strength íor (anada.
not a threat.

1he political debate o·er the national issue - both
in and outside Ouébec - has been polarized íor
íar too long. It is important to bring things into
balance and remember that recognizing the
national character oí Ouébec does not necessarilv
lead to so·ereigntv. Manv democratic countries
are multi-nation states. that is. countries
comprised oí two or more nations. 1hink oí the
United Kingdom. Spain. Belgium. Switzerland.
etc. (anada is not the onlv countrv that has to
deal with that dvnamic. 1he NDP understands
(anada`s status as a « multinational » countrv.
1hereíore. in addition to this new multicultural
realitv. it must explicitlv deal with the realities oí
Ouébec as with those oí the Aboriginal

Manv people ·iew (anada`s role in the world in
the 21st centurv as being a model citizen` in
terms oí its international relations. economv and
social initiati·es,. But (anada can also show the
entire world an example oí how diííerences can
be accommodated. (anada can be a
demonstration showing that it is possible to
combine respect íor indi·idual íreedoms. equalitv.
bilingualism. multiculturalism and integration oí
immigrants. respect íor Aboriginal selí-
go·ernment. and íinallv. the recognition oí a
national minoritv with a distinct character within
a larger entitv. (anada can be an example íor the
world in this regard. \e ha·e a dutv to do
e·ervthing we can to succeed.

4. As)mmetr|ca| federa||sm

he New Democratic Partv belie·es that
asvmmetrical íederalism is the best wav to
consolidate the (anadian íederal State with
the realitv oí Ouébec`s national character. 1hat
means that Ouébec has to ha·e speciíic powers
and room íor manoeu·ring. Asvmmetrv is
necessarv ií Ouébec is to
meet the challenges it
íaces. íoremost among
them the challenge oí
preser·ing the lrench íact in America.

\e belie·e that an egalitarian and cooperati·e
societv has to accommodate. not eliminate.
diííerences. Unitv is not necessarilv uniíormitv.
(anadian di·ersitv. which encompasses
Aboriginal peoples. Ouébec and multicultural
communities. is not a threat to (anada. On the
contrarv. it is part oí the essence oí (anada.

1his asvmmetrv ·is-a-·is Ouébec can be applied
in real terms through opting out with
compensation. 1he right to opt out applies where
the íederal go·ernment.
on its own or with the
agreement oí the
pro·inces. inter·enes in
areas oí exclusi·e pro·incial jurisdiction in
particular health and social ser·ices. education.
íamilv policv. housing. municipal inírastructure.
etc.,. In such case. no conditions or standards
should be applied to Ouébec without its consent.
obtained aíter consultation and negotiation. 1he
principle oí opting out is ·erv important. as it
ua|t) |s aot aecessar||) aa|form|t).
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makes it possible to reconcile the exercise oí
íederal spending power íor pro·inces that want it
with respect íor Ouébec`s constitutional

(anada is alreadv asvmmetrical to a large degree.
Ouébec has separate agreements on the labour
íorce. income tax. health. immigration and
parental lea·e. Ouébec is also acti·e on the world
stage when it is about issues related to the
extension oí its areas oí jurisdiction íor example.
culture and education,. 1he New Democratic
Partv supports that tvpe oí agreement.

5. work|ae toeether aad w|th respect: cooperat|re federa||sm

ooperation is central to our social
democratic ·ision oí societv and the
world. It simplv means working together.

1he starting point íor anv discussion thereíore
has to be respect íor the areas oí jurisdiction
recognized in the (onstitution. In recent decades.
the íederal go·ernment has oíten acted
unilaterallv. sometimes to impose its will in areas
oí pro·incial jurisdiction. sometimes to cut
transíer pavments to pro·inces. (ooperati·e
íederalism must aim to combat the íederal
go·ernment`s unilateralism and ensure multilateral
decisions and negotiations with a long-range

In lebruarv 1999. the íederal go·ernment and
nine pro·inces signed the Social Union
lramework Agreement. 1hat document spells
out the processes.
rules and conditions
that shape íederal-
pro·incial relations
in the area oí social
policv. \e in the
New Democratic
Partv belie·e that
such an agreement
can. in principle. be the basis íor trulv cooperati·e
íederalism. It can plav a ·erv signiíicant role.
e·en ií it is not a constitutional agreement. But
the Go·ernment oí Ouébec did not sign the 1999
agreement. An agreement` to which Ouébec
does not consent is not an agreement at all: it`s a
disagreement. 1he NDP contends that the
íederal go·ernment should obtain - íollowing
negotiation and amendment - Ouébec`s consent
to the íramework agreement and anv subsequent
\e cannot necessarilv assume what íorm íuture
agreements might take. lor now. it is suííicient
to sav that negotiations will be transparent.
conducted in good íaith and guided bv the
principles oí co-decision and cooperation.

A new Social Union lramework Agreement must
pro·ide a íramework íor íederal spending power.
In short. it has to both recognize and limit that
power. It is important to remember that íederal
spending power` in areas oí pro·incial
jurisdiction is not actuallv written into the
(onstitution. It is. howe·er. recognized bv
con·ention. 1he New Democratic Partv takes a
positi·e ·iew oí the íederal go·ernment`s
in·ol·ement in shared-cost programs.

1he New Democratic Partv realizes that there is
currentlv an imbalance in public íinances because
the íederal go·ernment
has large surpluses
while the pro·inces are
looking at considerablv
higher costs.
particularlv in the areas
oí health and
education. 1he NDP
realizes that the
pro·inces need predictable long-term íunding ií
thev are to continue pro·iding ser·ices to the

1he NDP will tackle the íiscal imbalance bv
increasing íederal pavments to the pro·inces.
1hose transíers will ha·e to be done in the
íramework oí cooperati·e asvmmetrical
íederalism. 1he NDP is not. howe·er. in ía·our
oí a tax points transíer. particularlv because it
0ooperat|re federa||sm mast a|m to
comhat the federa| eorerameat's
aa||atera||sm aad easare ma|t||atera|
dec|s|oas aad aeeot|at|oas w|th a |oae-
raaee oat|ook.
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comes írom a complex íiscal process that is
detrimental to transparencv.

As a social democratic
partv. the NDP will.
in anv negotiations.
deíend and demand
respect oí the
principles oí
uni·ersalitv. non-pri·atization and oí not-íor-
proíit endea·ours. lor example. we support the
íi·e principles oí the (anada lealth Act and also
support a sixth principle. that oí the non-

Social policv in (anada is complex. Sometimes.
the pro·inces implement their own programs.
Sometimes. the íederal go·ernment implements
its own programs. Sometimes. the íederal
go·ernment íederalizes` and uni·ersalizes`
policies that are created in a particular pro·ince in
order to applv them nationwide. íor example. the
(anada lealth Act. 1his back-and-íorth dvnamic
can. in the context oí respectíul cooperati·e
íederalism. be ·erv good íor social policv. 1hat is
certainlv in the interest oí (anadians in Ouébec
and all the pro·inces. Bv respecting pro·incial
jurisdiction. the íederal go·ernment can do a
great deal to maintain and de·elop minimal social
policv standards. As Social-Democrats. our ·ision
oí cooperati·e íederalism stands in contrast with
the neo-liberal ·ision oí the State that aims to
water down social.
en·ironmental and
labour policies.

Manv Ouébec policies
(LS(s and other
communitv health
centres. earlv childcare. pharmacare. etc., can be
strengthened bv the íederal go·ernment. As a
social democratic partv. the NDP wants to
support the most progressi·e initiati·es oí
Ouébec societv. Ouébec simplv needs assurance
that the íederal go·ernment will respect the
processes and policies Ouébec adopts. In short.
most major social policv breakthroughs were
made through cross iníluence and negotiation
rather than unilateral action bv the íederal

It is clear that gi·ing Ouébec guarantees regarding
asvmmetrv and respect íor pro·incial jurisdiction
could go a long wav toward promoting greater
cooperation. (anada beneíits írom Ouébec`s
dvnamic nature. lormal recognition oí and
respect íor Ouébec could help dispel mistrust.
1hat. in turn. will enable Ouébec to come to the
table with pride.

0. 0aéhec's r|eht to se|f-determ|aat|oa

he NDP hopes íor and will promote a
united (anada. (anada is a great.
di·ersiíied. tolerant and progressi·e
countrv. \e belie·e wholeheartedlv that it
deser·es to continue to exist and to de·elop.

1he NDP recognizes Ouébec`s right to selí-
determination. which implies the right oí the
people oí Ouébec to decide íreelv its own
political and constitutional íuture. 1his right can
be expressed in ·arious wavs and can go as íar as
achie·ing so·ereigntv. But the right to selí-
determination can also be exercised within

1he New Democratic Partv recognizes that
exercising the right to selí-determination in some
íorm is part oí a political process. \e íeel that to
legallv íormalize this process is not useíul or
necessarv. 1his was coníirmed bv the Supreme
(ourt in its opinion on the question:

1he reconciliation oí the ·arious
legitimate constitutional interests is
necessarilv committed to the political
rather than the judicial realm preciselv
because that reconciliation can onlv be
achie·ed through the gi·e and take oí
political negotiations. 1o the extent issues
addressed in the course oí negotiation are
political. the courts. appreciating their
As a soc|a| democrat|c part), the N0P
waats to sapport the most proeress|re
|a|t|at|res of 0aéhec soc|et).
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proper role in the constitutional scheme.
would ha·e no super·isorv role.
Supreme (ourt. Reterevce re ´ece..iov ot
Ovebec. ]··º,.

As well. the NDP has alreadv adopted at its 1999
(ongress the íollowing assertion:

lorum participants o·erwhelminglv
aííirmed the New Democratic Partv`s
policv that the people oí Ouébec ha·e
the right to decide. democraticallv. their
own íuture. Although the NDP opposed
the reíerence to the Supreme (ourt. the
panel notes that the court`s judgment did
in íact reiníorce the long-standing NDP
·iew that the íuture oí Ouebec within
(anada is ultimatelv a political question
and not a legal one SDl(l. page 25,

1hereíore. the NDP is committed to respect. in
all its dealings. the íoi qvebecoi.e .vr ta Cov.vttatiov
popvtaire Ouébec Reíerendum Act,. Also. the
NDP would recognize a majoritv decision 50°
- 1, oí the Ouébec people in the e·ent oí a
reíerendum on the political status oí Ouébec.
1he NDP recognizes as well that the right to selí-
determination implies that the ...evbtee vatiovate
is able to write a reíerendum question and that
the citizens oí Ouébec are able to answer it íreelv.
It would be to the lederal go·ernment to
determine its own process in the spirit oí the
Supreme (ourt ruling and under international
law. in response to the results oí the popular
consultation in Ouébec.

According to its ·alues. the NDP rejects also anv
use oí -- or threat oí - íorce against Ouébec at
anv stage. Our ·ision is one oí trust toward
democracv. good íaith and ·alues oí peace.

lor the NDP. it is necessarv to propose a positi·e
·ision oí the íuture rather than contribute to
polarize the debate. \e want to de·elop a new
attitude towards the whole debate. as our work
must contribute to the reiníorcement and the
renewal oí íederalism. not to maintain entrenched

7. Ihe fatare

he NDP will acti·elv propose a ·ision oí
íederalism inspired bv the social
democratic ·alues oí cooperation.
recognition. equalitv. respect. ílexibilitv.
transparencv and honestv.

Ouébec. it must be remembered. did not sign the
1982 (onstitution. 1he subsequent íailed
constitutional amendments created a situation
that to manv Ouebeckers seriouslv undermined
the legitimacv oí the
(anadian political
íramework. 1he NDP
undertakes to work
acti·elv to propose a
·ision oí (anadian íederalism that will enable us
to break the current impasse.

1he partv will take part in eííorts to promote
cooperation and pooling oí (anada`s and
Ouébec`s social democratic and progressi·e
íorces. as well as an ongoing dialogue between

\e belie·e that the process oí building a countrv
oí which Ouebeckers íeel thev are trulv part must
be based on good íaith. recognition and
accommodation oí diííerences. and cooperation
and harmonv between peoples. and not on
intimidation. As well. we should alwavs remember
that Ouébec does not want to be bought. but

1he NDP rejects the
current polarization
around this debate: it
is harmíul. vet it is perpetuated bv too manv
politicians on both sides oí the issue. 1he NDP
will acti·elv promote a ·ision that oííers tangible
solutions íor building a (anada that is íair.
cooperati·e and united íor the 21st centurv.
0aéhec does aot waat to he hoaeht, hat