(Quebec) The Belanger-Campeau commission was created in the hope of curbing the sovereignty fever caused by the failure of the Meech Lake and maintain the credibility of federalism. It was Robert Bourassa himself who said to his ministers in the summer of 1990 reveal documents that were previously stamped with the seal of secrecy.
The Executive Council Office has in fact make public the memories of the Bourassa government’s Council of Ministers deliberations during this period, on the expiry of the statutory period of 25 years.
That’s when the post-Meech era. After the failure of the constitutional agreement, Robert Bourassa made a statement to the National Assembly that will make history. “English Canada must understand very clearly that, whatever they say and whatever is done, Quebec is, today and forever, a distinct society, free and capable of assuming its destiny and development “said he 22 June 1990. Jacques Parizeau, then leader of the opposition, going to an equally famous retort:” You need that we can find another way, since the one he had chosen proves to be a cul-de-sac. And I say, Mr. Chairman, my Prime Minister: I offer my hand. Looking this fall, all together, a way of the future of Quebec. ”
One wonders if Robert Bourassa would be ready to realize independence or if he does that maintaining some ambiguity.
In the months that followed, the Liberal Prime Minister is preparing the creation of a Commission on the Political and Constitutional Future of Quebec, better known as the Committee Bélanger-Campeau name. Negotiations are held with Jacques Parizeau on the composition and mandate of the commission.
At the meeting of his cabinet of July 11, 1990, Robert Bourassa says that ministers can not refuse the holding of such an exercise, without which “the opposition will be the top of any fall while the keypad Government has no constitutional argument. ” In the deliberations of the Council of Ministers, we read that the Prime Minister was “amazed at the breadth and depth of the sovereigntist wave.” The Prime Minister added that “the government is taken with [this] immense wave” and that he “wants to control the situation.” “The government has lost its constitutional challenge, this is to limit the damage,” he says. On 22 August, he said to his ministers that “the work of the Commission are likely to dissolve several myths about the constitutional position of the official opposition.”
The following week, the Government House Leader, Michel Pagé, present to his colleagues the details of the bill establishing the Bélanger-Campeau commission, a legislative piece that will be adopted by the National Assembly in September.
Council deliberations of Ministers of August 29, 1990 that highlight the Robert Bourassa’s intentions. “All are aware that there is a huge wave that swept sovereigntist Quebec since the failure of the Meech Lake Accord,” he said to his ministers. “As a federalist, this phenomenon is very difficult to manage, added the Prime Minister. However, the Commission on the Future of Quebec, which will be established is likely to break down myths sovereignists. ”
Maintain the credibility of federalism
“You have an extraordinary commission” and not just Parliament, “in order to have a good opportunity to maintain the credibility of federalism,” says Mr. Bourassa. He said that “such a commission limits the short-term damage. In the medium term, this wave may subside sovereignty. ”
In March 1991, the Commission recommends the adoption of a law establishing the process for determining the political and constitutional future of Quebec, holding a sovereignty referendum in 1992 and the establishment of a commission to assess any offer of new constitutional partnership made by Ottawa by then.
A bill to that effect is adopted by the National Assembly. She later amended door for the referendum on the Charlottetown agreement, negotiated in the meantime. This agreement is rejected by referendum across the country.