Three Reasons Affirming Quebec Assent to the Canada Act

24 04 2012

Thirty years later, we still hear from some parties the myth that Québec did not ratify the Constitution known as the Canada Act, 1982, and then use the myth to political advantage.  The record needs to be set straight once and for all.

First, during the publicly televised constitution debates before the nation, all of the Canadian Premiers and the Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, signed the agreement, including René Lévesque when he used an asterisk as his “mark” on the agreement.  A “mark” such as the René Lévesque asterisk on the Constitution would, in any court of law in the land, serve as legal tender as an instrument of ratification of the agreement.  The fact that the Québec premier chose to use a mark instead of his signature is immaterial in legal terms.  A mark is recognized as such in our laws, including the laws on the books at the time.  In a challenge before the courts in this matter, the challenge would likely fail, and the courts would recognize that Québec did sign the constitution.

The fact that a few months later, René Lévesque tried to say that he didn’t sign the constitution when he put his mark on it, is no different than someone signing a contract or any other legal writ in such a manner, and then trying to extricate himself from the contract or writ by saying his mark on the contract was not a form of legal assent.  In law, the witnessed mark would serve as legal assent and signature to the contract or writ.

Secondly, the courts of the land, including the Supreme Court of Canada and Québec courts which constitute the judicial branch of our government, have accepted the Canada Act, 1982, as the supreme law of the land as duly adopted and promulgated.  We stress that the Québec courts, the judicial branch of the Québec government, fully recognize the legal validity of the Canada Act, 1982, and by doing so, has given their assent to the Act.

Thirdly, as the framers of the Constitution have repeatedly insisted, the large representation of federal parliamentarians and senators from Québec at the time voted to affirm to Canada Act, 1982.

It’s time to stop playing political football with the myth that Québec did not sign the Constitution.  René Lévesque himself ratified the agreement with his mark.

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