OPEN LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION FOR QUEBEC



The Chretien government's "Clarity Act" is a cause for alarm for allsupporters of democratic rights. This act denies the democratic right ofthe people of Quebec to decide their own future. The Act grants the
federal Parliament the sole authority to establish the "clarity" of a future referendum question and to determine whether a "clear majority" has expressed itself in any referendum. This means that Parliament is taking away the historically recognized rights of the people of Quebec to make these decisions. In the two previous referendums, the federal
government accepted that the Quebec government could draft its own question without federal interference. By requiring federal approval of the question in future referendums, the federal government is denying the right to self-determination for the people of Quebec.

This authoritarian act also raises the stakes by requiring something more than a simple majority. This means that a majority of participants in a referendum in Quebec could vote in favour of sovereignty (or sovereignty-association) but the federal government, acting unilaterally, would refuse to recognize that majority, if they didn't like the question or the size of the majority. What's worse, the people and government of Quebec don't even know how big a majority they would
need to satisfy Ottawa. Furthermore the act if passed prevents the federal government from fulfilling its democratic obligation to negotiate in good faith with the government of Quebec following a successful yes vote.

These proposals are an affront to all democrats.

Since the narrow defeat of the "yes" side in the 1995 Quebec referendum, the Liberal government has adopted a policy of threats towards Quebec and especially towards the millions of its people who support sovereignty. There have been no proposals from the federal government that seriously address the concerns of the people of Quebec about Confederation.

Canada is a multinational country. Aboriginal peoples and the people of Quebec have raised a series of objections to the structure of the federal state in Canada. They have insisted that they -- as distinct nations -- need to have the right to determine their own futures. We affirm the democratic right of aboriginal peoples and the people of
Quebec to self-determination in a context free of coercion. Ottawa's anti-democratic attempt to dispute this right for the people of Quebec must be opposed. If the federal government can deny this right of the people of Quebec, they will be in a stronger position to deny the right of self-determination to aboriginal peoples too.

When democratic rights are violated for the people of Quebec, or for aboriginal peoples, all of our rights are under attack. We remember the October 1970 imposition of the War Measures Act when hundreds of activists were rounded up in Quebec and across the rest of Canada by the army and police. And we remember the massive 1990 Canadian military intervention against the land claims of the Mohawk Nation at Oka-Kanehsatake. We seek to prevent a repetition of such attacks on people's rights.

We call for the withdrawal of the "Clarity Act" and the end of all threats and intimidation against the right of the Quebec people to determine their own future. At the same time, we affirm the right of aboriginal self-determination both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. We commit ourselves to an ongoing campaign of public actions -- letters, statements, meetings and events -- to prevent the subversion of democratic rights and to promote solidarity and cooperation between the many peoples living in the Canadian state. We will not tolerate, by our silence, any attempt to bully, threaten or coerce the people of Quebec or aboriginal peoples in the name of "national unity".



Individual supporters:

Mariam Abou-dib, President of CUPE Local 3380*; Mary Louise Adams,
assistant professor, Physical and Health Education, Queen's University*,
and author of The Trouble With Normal; Greg Albo, Department of
Political Science, York University*; Diane Albrecht, co-chair, Canadian
Auto Workers (CAW) Left Caucus; Bruce Allen, first vice-president, St.
Catharines and District Labour Council*; John Anderson, Labour Studies,
McMaster University*; David Ast, educator and social activist; John
Baglow, Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada*; Paul Bains,
Ist Vice-President, CAW-Canada Local 111*; Jonnie Bakan, shop steward,
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 3903, York University*; Charly
Bass, singer/songwriter, Montreal; Jean Baillargeon, Department of
Philosophy, York University*; Pat Baker, Departments of
Sociology/Anthropology and Women's Studies, Mount Saint Vincent
University*; Richard Banner, writer/editor, Vancouver; Bonnie Bates,
NDP Socialist Caucus; Geoff Bickerton, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
(CUPW); Louis Balthazer, professor emeritus, Université Laval*; Julia
Barnett, AIDS and CUPE* trade union activist; Patrick Barnholden,
history student, Laurentian University*; Pete Bellefeuille, CAW*; Derek
Blackadder, Ontario universities co-ordinator, CUPE* Regional Office,
Toronto; Francois Boudreau, I'Ecole de service social de L'Universite
Laurentienne*; Véronique Bourget, Graduate Student, York University*;
Deborah Brock, Sociology Department, Brock University*, author of Making
Work, Making Trouble: Prostitution as a Social Problem; Lester Brown,
CFO St. Paul's New Democratic Party Riding Association*; Tom Brown,
Financial Secretary, CAW-Canada, Local 3014*; Rev. Brian Burch,
Community of St. Thomas*; Mike Burke, associate professor, Department of
Politics and School of Public Administration, Ryerson Polytechnic
University*; Christina Burr, assistant professor, History, University of
Windsor*; Ligaya Byrch, graduate student, Laurentian University*;
Jean-Charles Cachon, Associate Professor of Strategy and
Entrepeneurship, School of Commerce and Administration, Laurentian
Univeristy*, Vice-President Societe des Universitaires de Langue
Francaise de l'Ontario*; Brett Cemer, communications officer, CUPE
1281*; Paul Chislett, President of CEP Local 37*, Sudbury; Dale Clark,
national president, CUPW; John Clarke, organizer, Ontario Coalition
Against Poverty; Lynne Cohen, artist, professor, University of Ottawa*;
Mark Connery, student and activist, University of Toronto*; J. F.
Conway, professor of sociology; trustee, Public School Board*, Regina;
Jocelyne Couture, Department of Philosophy, Universite du Québec a
Montréal*; Roger Crowther, National Representative, CAW-Canada*; Kari
Dehli, associate professor, Department of Sociology and Equity Studies,
OISE/University of Toronto*; Serge Denis, Professor of Political
Science, University of Ottawa*; Gord Doctorow, teacher Toronto District
School Board, OSSTF Branch President, District 12*; Stephan Dobson,
strike co-ordinator, CUPE Local 3902, University of Toronto*; Jacqueline
Dumas, writer and bookseller, Edmonton; Tarek Fatah, editor and host,
The Muslim Chronicle, Vision TV*; Gordon Flett, CEP Local 2000*,
Vancouver; Joe Flexer, NDP Socialist Caucus; Cynthia Flood, writer and
English instructor at Langara College, Vancouver*; Cindi Foreman, CUPW,
Sudbury*; Sue Genge, national representative, Women's and Human Rights
Department, Canadian Labour Congress*; Patrizia Gentile, graduate
student, Queen's University*; Richard Gervais, Professeur de
philosophie, Quebec; Cy Gonick, Department of Economics, University of
Manitoba*; Todd Gordon, CUPE 3903*; New Socialist Group; Joel Harden,
Chair, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario*; Leila Harding,
Recording Secretary, CAW-Canada, Local 3000*; Marcel Hatch, co-chair
NDP Socialist Caucus; John Hollingsworth, Insitute of Political Economy,
Carleton University*; Evert Hoogers, CUPW National Union Representative;
John Huot, School of Social and Community Services, Humber College,
Toronto*; Jim W. Jaszewski ; Erin Kaiser, External Commission, Alma
Mater Society of the University of British Columbia*; Jennifer Keck,
associate professor, School of Social Work, Laurentian University*; Jeff
Keighley, National Representative, CAW-Canada*; Paul Kellogg, editor,
Socialist Worker; Kim Kent, CAW Local 4451,* Stratford, Ontario; Tariq
Amin Khan, anti-racist activist, Toronto; Diane Kilby, lesbian feminist
trade union activist; Gary Kinsman, associate professor, Sociology,
Laurentian University*, Sudbury; author of The Regulation of Desire;
Tadele M. Kitaba, African Advisory Committee of the Ontario NDP*; Raghu
Krishnan, freelance journalist, translator and conference interpreter,
Ottawa; Guy Lachapelle, Université Concordia*; Mark Lajoie, Humanities
Doctoral Program, Concordia University*; Thierry Lapointe, doctoral
candidate in Political Science, York University*; Clarissa Lassaline,
Sudbury; Jackie Larkin, Labour Educator, Vancouver; Catherine Lauzon,
Sault Ste. Marie; Paul Lavellee, social activist; Harold Lavender,
activist, writer, editorial board member New Socialist, Vancouver; Gary
Lawrence, Vice-President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
Local 504*; Kate Laxer, Graduate Students Association, York
University*; David Leadbeater, Department of Economics/Departement de
Science economique, Laurentian University/Universite Laurentienne*;
David Livingstone, professor, Sociology and Equity Studies, Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education/U. of T*; Margaret Little, author of
No Car, No Radio, No Liquor Permit: The Moral Regulation of Single
Mothers in Ontario, 1920-1997, and assistant professor in Women's
Studies and Political Science, Queen's University*; Dan Lovell, Ontario
New Democratic Youth, Peterborough Riding*; Ken Luckhardt, staff
representative, CAW Social Justice Fund*; Andrew Lugg, professor,
University of Ottawa*; Paul Lykotrafitis, CUPE 3261,* USWA 1998*; Meg
Luxton, professor of Social Science and Women's Studies, York
University*; John MacLennan, delegate to the Toronto Labour Council,
Member of CEP 97-M; member of the Trinity-Spadina, NDP*; Janet Maher,
women's and health issues activist; Dr. Robbie Mahood, Assistant
Professor of Family Medicine, McGill University*, NDP Socialist Caucus
and Parti de la Democratie Socialiste, Montreal; Ravi Malhotra,
disability rights activist and member of the NDP*; D'Arcy Martin, labour
educator, Service Employees International Union-Canada*; Ed Martinez,
Industrial Workers of the World, Edmonton Branch*, labour/student
activist; Peter Matilainen, steward, Non-Academic Staff Association,
University of Alberta, Edmonton*; Steven Maynard, historian, Kingston,
Ontario; Mary Catherine McCarthy, CUPE National Representative*; Kerry
McCuaig, director, Child Care Educational Foundation*; Doug
McCorquodale, British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters*; Paul
McKane, Recording Secretary, CAW-Canada, Local 3014*; Don McLeod,
President, CAW-Canada Local 3014*; Greg McMaster, President Edmonton
Local CUPW; David McNally, Department of Political Science, York
University,* member of the York University Faculty Association*; Charles
Menzies, assistant professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology
and Sociology, UBC*; Marie-Therese Miller, Member du CA de IPSO*; Bonte
Minnema, University of Toronto* community activist; Colin Mooers,
Department of Politics and School of Public Administration, Ryerson
Polytechnic University*; Toby Moorsom, graduate student, New Socialist
Group, York University*; Ray Morris, Professor of Sociology, Glendon
College, York University*; David Musico, social activist, Sudbury; Eric
Mykhalovskiy, postdoctoral fwllow, department of public health sciences,
University of Toronto*; Joanne Naiman, professor, Department of
Sociology, Ryerson Polytechnic University*; Jim Naylor, associate
professor, Department of History, Brandon University*; Nancy Nicol,
Department of Visual Arts, York University; York University Faculty
Association*; Kai Nielsen, University of Calgary and Concordia
(Philosophy)*; Greg Nielson, Associate Professor of Sociology and
Anthropology, Concordia University*; Will Offley, researcher and
activist, New Socialist Group, Vancouver; John Ozborn, Industrial
Workers of the World*; Harry Paine, NDP Socialist Caucus (Manitoba)*;
Leo Panitch, Political Science, York University*; Michael Parkes, B.C.
NDP Langley Constituency Youth Representative*; Jean- Claude Parrot,
Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress*; Keith Patterson,
Vice-President, West End Community Ventures*, Ottawa; Greg Pavelich,
Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario member at large steering
committee, member steering committee of the June 13th Committee*; Julia
Payson, UBC activist, BC NDP Socialist Caucus steering committee, BC
Young New Democrat Executive member*; Edward Pickersgill, founding
director, Matrix Affordable Homes for the Disadvantaged Inc., Guelph,
Ontario*; Eugene Plawiuk, President Edmonton CUPE District Committee*;
Dawson Pratt, president, North Bay and District Labour Council, OFL
Executive Council Member, OPSEU Local 657 Vice-President, and Nipissing
NDP Riding executive member*; Chris Ramsaroop, Students' Administrative
Council president, 1998-1999, University of Toronto*; David Rapaport,
author and labour activist, Toronto; Shiraz Rawat, student, Osgoode Hall
Law School*; Judy Rebick, writer, broadcaster; Laurel Ritchie, national
representative, CAW-Canada*; Bob Rosen, past president, Surrey Teachers
Association*; Herman Rosenfeld, CAW National Representative, Education
Department*; Bill Saunders, President of the Vancouver and District
Labour Council*; Chris Schenk, Research Director, Ontario Federation of
Labour*; Alan Sears, Department of Sociology and Anthropology,
University of Windsor*; Wally Seccombe, Sociology and Equity Studies,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education*; Michel Seymour, philosophy
professor, Université de Montréal*; Errol Sharpe, Fernwood Books*, Nova
Scotia; Kevin Skerrett, Researcher, Canadian Union of Public
Employees(CUPE)*; Harry Smaller, Faculty of Education, York University*;
Frank Sobczak, CAW-Canada Local 3000*; Jennifer Anne Stephen, CUPE
3902*, Toronto; Susan P. Stout, women's rights, human rights and health
and safety activist, CAW Local 2213,* CAW Left Caucus; Donald Swartz,
School of Public Administration, Carleton University*; Rhonda Sussman,
CUPE 4400*; Tony Tracy, B.C. NDP Socialist Caucus steering committee,
Vancouver Little Mountain NDP Riding Association executive member, BC
Tenants Rights Action Coalition board member*; Karen Urchak, CUPW
National Union Representative; Lucinda Vandervort, Associate Professor,
College of Law, University of Saskatchewan*; Cathy Walker, CAW*; Andrew
Wayne, associate professor of Philosophy, Concordia University*; Robert
Ware, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary*; Andrea Waywanko,
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) Local 002; vice-president,
Alberta Federation of Labour (representing AUPE)*; Paul Weinberg,
Toronto-based freelance journalist; Barry Weisleder, co-chair of the NDP
Socialist Caucus*; president, Toronto Substitute Teachers*; Provincial
Council member, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation*, editor
of Socialist Action newspaper; John Wilson, OPSEU* support staff;
president, Kimeta Society*; trustee, John Damien Educational Trust*;
Cynthia Wright, Institute for Women's Studies and Gender Studies,
University of Toronto*

* for identification purposes only

Supporting organizations:

Canadian Auto Workers Left Caucus
Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)
Les Intellectuels pour la souveraineté (IPSO)
National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC)
New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus
New Socialist Group
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
Socialist Action
Sudbury Sexual Assault Crisis Centre