Monday, August 2, 2010

Republic of Quebec? Has the ICJ given Quebec The green light to separate?

Last weeks opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case, is sure to cause a firestorm of controversy that will provoke debate in this country for as long as the question of Quebec’s place in Canada remains unresolved.

Already, much of the legal punditry is wringing it’s hands in anticipation of the inevitable crowing by the separatists over how the international community is now on their side, no matter what the feds say! However, as one who has studied this question in great detail, I must tell you we shouldn’t get too carried away.

For starters, the ICJ opinion is just that: one interpretation of the law, as opposed to a legally binding decision that would force the parties to act a certain way (i.e. requiring Serbia and others to recognize Kosovo as a state). In fact, the court was careful not to rule on the matter of whether Kosovo is now a full-fledged state, with all of the rights and responsibilities that entails. Thus, this still remains basically a political decision, to be decided on a case- by-case basis. Though, Kosovo certainly has more and more credibility, in that regard.

More importantly, the current political climate doesn’t bode well for the separatists/sovereigntist/autonomist (or whatever the hell they are calling it these days!) cause. A recent CROP poll indicates that the movement is in the doldrums at the moment with only 24% of Quebecers identifying themselves as sovereigntist, and a massive 58% agreeing that the whole business has become “outmoded”! While this does not mean the end of separatism as we know it this country, as we know how volatile an issue this can be, it does suggest, however, that we will not be hearing any harping from the BQ and PQ in this matter, anytime soon. It’s, frankly, putting the cart before the horse, to engage in a rather obscure legal debate about international law before we have resolved the political situation in Quebec.

The Future is Unwritten