Draft Bill on the Sovereignty of Quebec

  1. Preamble
  2. Economic Association
  3. Sovereignty
  4. New Constitution
  5. Territory
  6. Citizenship
  7. Currency
  8. Treaties
  9. International Alliances
  10. Continuity of Law
  11. Apportionment of Property and Debt
  12. Coming into Force

Explanatory Notes

Draft Bill Respecting the Sovereignty of Quebec

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
FIRST SESSION
THIRTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE

Draft Bill
An Act Respecting the Sovereignty of Quebec

Tabled by
Mr. Jacques Parizeau
Prime Minister

Preamble

DECLARATION OF SOVEREIGNTY(To follow)

The Declaration of Sovereignty will be drafted on the basis of the suggestions made during the information and participation process to be held on the draft bill.

It will set forth the fundamental values an main objectives the Quebec nation wishes to make its own once it has acquired the exclusive power to make all its laws, collect all its taxes and conclude all its treaties.

THE PARLIAMENT OF QUEBEC ENACTS AS FOLLOWS:

Sovereignty

1. Quebec is a sovereign country.

Economic Association

2. The Government is authorized to conclude, with the Government of Canada, an agreement the purpose of which is to maintain an economic association between Quebec and Canada.

Such an agreement must be approved by the National Assembly before being ratified.

New Constitution

3. The Government shall, in accordance with the procedure determined by the National Assembly, see to the drafting of a constitution for Quebec and to its adoption.

The constitution shall include a charter of human rights and freedoms. It shall guarantee the English-speaking community that its identity and institutions will be preserved. It shall also recognize the right of Aboriginal nations to self-government on lands over which they have full ownership. Such guarantee and such recognition shall be exercised in a manner consistent with the territorial integrity of Quebec.

The constitution will provide for the decentralization of specific powers to local and regional authorities together with sufficient fiscal and financial resources for their exercise.

Territory

4. Quebec shall retain the boundaries it has within the Canadian Confederation at the time section 1 comes into force. It shall exercise its jurisdiction over the maritime areas and the territories adjoining its coastline in accordance with the terms and conditions provided by the rules of international law.

Citizenship

5. Every person who holds Canadian citizenship and is domiciled in Quebec at the time section 1 comes into force is a Quebec citizen.

Every person who, after the coming into force of section 1, is born in Quebec or is born outside Quebec to a father or mother holding Quebec citizenship is also a Queb ec citizen.

Quebec citizenship may also be acquired in the manner determined by the National Assembly.

Quebec citizenship may be held concurrently with citizenship of Canada or of any other country.

Currency

6. The legal currency of Quebec shall continue to be the Canadian dollar.

Treaties

7. Quebec shall assume the obligations and enjoy the rights arising out of the treaties to which Canada is a party and the international conventions to which Canada is a signatory, in accordance with the rules of international law.

International Alliances

8. The Government is authorized to apply for the admission of Quebec as a member of the United Nations Organization and other international bodies.

9. Quebec shall take the necessary steps to remain a member of the Commonwealth, the French-speaking community, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Continuity of Law

10. Laws passed by the Parliament of Canada that apply in Quebec at the time section 1 comes into force, and the regulations under such laws, shall remain in force until amended or repealed by the National Assembly.

11. Pensions and supplements payable to the elderly shall continue to be paid by the Government according to the same terms and conditions. Permits, licences and authorizations that have been issued shall remain in force until their expiry.

12. The courts of civil or criminal jurisdiction shall continue to exist; the judges presiding over them shall continue in their appointment and retain their authority. Cases pending may be continued until judgment. The Court of Appeal of Quebec shall become the court of highest jurisdiction until a Supreme Court is established under the new constitution provided for in section 3.

The judges of the Federal Court and of the Supreme Court of Canada who were members of the Quebec Bar shall become, if they so wish, judges of the Superior Court and of the Court of Appeal of Quebec, respectively.

13. The Government may, in keeping with the procedure provided by law, appoint all persons required and take all steps necessary to facilitate the application of the Canadian Laws that continue to apply in Quebec pursuant to section 10. The sums required for the application of those laws shall be taken out of the consolidated revenue fund.

In making appointments under this section, the Government shall give priority to the public servants and other employees of the Government of Canada or of an agency of body thereof who reside in Quebec.

14. Until the coming into force of the new constitution provided for in section 3, the laws, rules and conventions which govern the internal constitution of Quebec and access to English-language schools shall remain in force.

Apportionment of Property and Debt

15. The Government may conclude, with the Government of Canada, any agreement relating to the apportionment of the property and debts of Canada, and to any other matter susceptible of facilitating the application of this Act.

Coming into Force

16. This Act comes into force one year after its approval by referendum, unless the National Assembly fixes an earlier date.

However, sections 2, 3 and 15 come into force on the day following the day this Act is approved by referendum.

17. This Act shall be submitted to a referendum.

This Act may not come into force unless a majority of the votes cast by the electors in a referendum held in accordance with the Referendum Act on the following question are cast in the affirmative:

"Are you in favour of the Act passed by the National Assembly declaring the sovereignty of Quebec? YES or NO"

Explanatory Notes

This draft bill sets out the political course of action put forward by the Government of Quebec to settle definitively the constitutional problem that has been confronting Quebec for several generations. It also defines the process proposed to achieve this purpose.

The Project

It is proposed that Quebec become a sovereign country through the democratic process. The accession of full sovereignty has been defined by the National Assembly as "the accession of Quebec to a position of exclusive jurisdiction, through its democratic institutions, to make laws and levy taxes in its territory and to act on the international scene for the making of agreements and treaties of any kind with other independent States and participating in various international organizations". Act respecting the process for determining the political and constitutional future of Quebec (S.Q.,1991, c. 34).

An economic association with Canada would be maintained in order to preserve and further develop the free circulation of goods and services, of capital and of persons that is currently prevailing. To the same end, Quebec would continue to adhere to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Canadian dollar would continue to be the legal currency of Quebec.

A new constitution would be drafted following a procedure to be defined by the National Assembly. This new constitution would include a charter of human rights and freedoms and provide guarantees, in a manner consistent with Quebec's territorial integrity, to the English-speaking community and to the Aboriginal nations. It would also provide for the decentralization of specific powers to local and regional authorities, together with sufficient resources.

Provisions are made as to the territory of a sovereign Quebec, Quebec citizenship and the continuity of treaties, international alliances and laws. In this respect, the Government of Quebec would be authorized to take over, from the Government of Canada, all services and transfer payments currently provided to Quebec citizens by the Canadian government.

Several other transitional measures are provided for, including the conclusion of an agreement on the apportionment of the property and debts of Canada.

The Process

After undergoing an information and participation process, the draft bill will become a bill which, once passed by the National Assembly, will be submitted to the people of Quebec in a referendum.

During this process, the citizens of Quebec will be invited to collectively formulate a "Declaration of Sovereignty" to constitute the preamble to the bill. The Declaration will set forth the fundamental values and main objectives of a sovereign Quebec nation. It will guide the drafting of the future Quebec constitution and may serve as inspiration for the endeavours of the people of Quebec and their representatives in the decades to come.

The process the Government of Quebec intends to initiate will consist of the following:

  1. Publication of the draft bill;
  2. A period of information and participation for the purposes of improving the bill and drafting the "Declaration of Sovereignty" which will form the preamble to the bill;
  3. Discussion of the bill respecting the sovereignty of Quebec, and passage by the National Assembly;
  4. Approval of the Act by the population in a referendum;
  5. A period of discussion with Canada on the transitional measures to be set in place, particularly as regards the apportionment of property and debts; during this period the new Quebec constitution will be drafted;
  6. The accession of Quebec to sovereignty.

How You Can Help Shape the History of Quebec

Would you like to participate in the most important democratic exercise in the history of Quebec?

Do you have a critical, divergent or opposing point of view, which you would like to express with respect to the draft legislation of the sovereignty of Quebec?

If so, you will get the opportunity next February when the special commissions studying the political future of Quebec will travel throughout our various regions.

Watch your local newspapers to find out when your Regional Commission will be in your area. Get involved and make your personal contribution to this pivotal debate. Individuals, associations, organizations and companies are all invited to participate and a special document will be available as of January to help you prepare your submission.

A Message from the Prime Minister

Version francaise disponible sur demande.1-800-363-3043

Dear Fellow Quebecer:

As you are undoubtedly aware, I recently tabled a draft bill in the National Assembly on the sovereignty of Quebec, which I committed myself to distribute to every Quebec household. Enclosed you will find your own personal copy of this proposed legislation.

I emphasize that this is your personal copy because the initiative of creating a country is not the exclusive concern of the government. Indeed, it must be the concern of each and every citizen of Quebec, of the Quebec nation as a whole. That is why we will be calling on you to carefully study, assess, or modify this draft legislation as you see fit as part of a major exercise in democratic participation.

In conjunction with this exercise, next February, within all regions of Quebec - throughout all our local communities, towns and cities - specially formed commissions will be busy gathering your thoughts and expectations about this draft legislation.

As you will notice, there is a blank page in the document you have just received. It is the preamble which has intentionally been left unwritten. This preamble will eventually become the Declaration of Sovereignty of Quebec. It must describe who we are as a people and who we wish to become. As such, it must be a vivid reflection of our values and our hopes, our traditions and our ambitions. This blank page calls out to all of us. We must devise it together, participate and contribute the best of ourselves.

For the very first time in our history, each and every Quebecer has the opportunity to become his or her own legislative representative, directly influence the future and personally help write the history of Quebec.

I invite you to take full advantage of this tremendous opportunity, and wish you and yours all the best for the holiday season and the New Year to come.

Sincerely,

Jacques PARIZEAU
Prime Minister


Last HTML revision: 20 August, 1995.