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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In Reference Re Secession of Quebec, 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the unwritten constitutional principles of federalism and democracy dictated that the clear repudiation of the existing constitutional order and the clear expression of the desire to pursue secession by the population of a province gave rise to a reciprocal obligation on all parties to the federation to negotiate constitutional changes to respond to that desire. To understand this astonishing decision, the author first examines how, over time, in Canada and Quebec, issues of identity(ies), constitutional law, and democracy came to be formulated in absolutist terms, making political compromises next to impossible. Only then does he analyse the Supreme Court’s decision and attempts to explain why the latter chose to decide as it did.

Keywords: secession, constitutional law, identity, monism, nationalism, pluralism, federalism, unwritten constitutional principles, positivism

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