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Singh says Quebec's proposed constitutional change important but 'symbolic'

Last Updated May 26, 2021 at 1:44 pm MDT

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet hold a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says Quebec’s proposed changes to the Constitution are purely symbolic and will not impact Canadians outside the province.

Singh says provincial legislation to amend the country’s supreme law by affirming Quebec as a nation with French as its official language is “important” but uncontroversial.

The would-be law, known as Bill 96, has stirred up debate as experts fret that constitutional acknowledgment of a distinct society would push courts to interpret laws differently in Quebec or hand it greater provincial power.

Experts say constitutional tweaks require approval from the House of Commons and Senate, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said an initial Justice Department analysis concluded the province can go ahead with the changes.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is tabling a motion in the House today that asks lawmakers to recognize Quebec’s right to amend its constitution under Section 45 of the Constitution Act in a bid to clear the path for any requisite thumbs-up from Parliament.

Blanchet said in French during question period today that Bill 96 contains nothing “alarming from a constitutional point of view,” while Trudeau and other federal leaders have expressed general support for the idea of Quebec as a nation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press