Awkward Situation for the NDP in Quebec: Beware the Sherbrooke Declaration

Awkward Situation for the NDP in Quebec: Beware the Sherbrooke Declaration

Main photo: Rue Wellington Nord, Sherbrooke.

It has been nearly three years since the Orange Wave swept Quebec in the last federal election. Fifty-nine of seventy-five seats in Quebec went to the NDP, up from Thomas Mulcair’s seat in Outremont. Two NDP MP’s have defected: one to the Liberals and one to the Bloc.

Thomas Mulcair, as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, has declared that he was “neutral” in this Quebec election. The provincial NDP party has been repeatedly stalled instead of running in the 2012 and 2013 elections, likely because the last time it existed in the 1990s it became militant and separatist. And, if it got off its leash again, it could undermine the NDP federally in 2015. NDP MP’s in Quebec have been prevented from campaigning. Most likely, because many of them would campaign for the Quebec Solidaire, a far left socialist and separatist party, or the PQ.

If the PQ is elected, Mulcair and the NDP will be in an even more awkward position with the threat of a new referendum on the horizon.

This is because of the NDP’s Quebec policy: the Sherbrooke Declaration.

The Sherbrooke Declaration would make it easier for Quebec achieve its right to “self-determination” (in other words: to separate from the Rest of Canada), calls for asymmetrical federalism, and declares Quebec a nation.

The Sherbrooke declaration is a morally and intellectually indefensible document and policy. It undermines the rule of law, Canada’s Constitution, democratic rights, and the unity of our country. It rejects most of the Supreme Court reference on secession and the Clarity Act. It would entrench a 50% + 1 vote on sovereignty as set by the National Assembly as sufficient to separate Quebec from Canada.

The Sherbrooke Declaration was adopted in 2005 in Sherbrooke Quebec, by the NDP’s Quebec wing.

How do we explain the NDP’s rise in Quebec? Many pundits will talk about a rejection of separatism, others will point to a lack of connection with other leaders and being just plain fed up with the other parties. Jack Layton’s glowing personality did struck a cord in that election. His earnestness, perceived integrity and honesty, personal likability, and splendid performance in both debates gave him a boost.

However, much of it can be attributed to the NDP’s bittersweet embrace of Quebec nationalism.

It seems almost unthinkable that may of the same electors that elected Jack Layton’s NDP voted for Pauline Marois’ PQ a little over a year later. While vastly different in tone and style, their policies for the future of Quebec are in fact complimentary and work in tandem.

Instead of a passionate appeal for Canada based on common values- two Official Languages, prosperity combined with generous social welfare and a society built on tolerance and respect- the pandering for Quebec votes has been a race to the bottom. The NDP has become the same peddlers of ethno-centrism and fear mongering of many Quebec separatists and nationalists that threatens not only the future of Canada, but confronts the core values of a modern liberal democracy, namely freedom of expression and respect for minority rights.

The NDP’s embrace of “Separatism Lite,” which would blindly accept a referendum has brought federal politics in this province to a new low. Jumping the Bloc Quebecois out back and putting on its clothes is the last thing any federalist politician should be doing.

The greatest threat to Canadian nationhood, is indeed not from within Quebec, but from the Rest of Canada shrugging it’s collective shoulders and acquiescing to the loudest and most extreme voices in the room when it comes to dealing with this province. That is what the NDP has done.

The NDP advocates for an ideology and policies that would strip new Canadians, Quebec’s historic English-speaking community, and Francophones of Charter rights, tolerance, and respectful cultural diversity of the Canada they supposedly advocate for.

It should be remembered, that when Quebecers have cast individual ballots on their status in constitutional debates and referendums, their voices have said, “No” or “Non, merci.” (though the questions and framework were admittedly flawed). The new status quo seems to be to embrace a nationalism of convenience. The NDP lauds South-East Asian entrepreneurs in the GTA as the future of a new, diverse, multicultural utopia, while embracing a Quebec policy that flies in the face of this ideal. Perhaps, we should call it the “Quebec contradiction.” The NDP’s platform built on electoral hopes pinned on winning over Quebec nationalists by appealing to the lowest common denominator are undeserving of our support.

The NDP has unfortunately tarnished and sullied the name of Sherbrooke with their policies that repudiate our proud heritage of bilingualism, respect for the rule of law, and belief in a country called Canada.

I, for one, declare that the NDP’s Sherbrooke Declaration is not my Sherbrooke. I know my ancestors deserve better, my community deserves better and my province and country deserve better.

I declare I want my city and our country’s founding ideals back.

I hope you will join me in this solemn declaration.

Editorials and opinion pieces represent the opinions of their authors. maintains a socially and politically neutral ground for exchange of ideas.

Categories: News, Opinion, Politics

About Author

Colin Standish

Colin Standish has a law degree from Université Laval in Quebec City and a history and politics degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Colin was born and raised in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and is currently a candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada nomination in Compton-Stanstead. He has learnt French in order to be able to study his chosen degree subject in the language.

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