Agrandir le texte.Contraste élevé.Contraste inversé.
Facebook Linkedin Fils RSS.

The Québec Nation and Québec's Distinctive Character

Recognition of the Québec nation and of Québec's distinctive character is a matter of special importance within the Canadian federation. The recognition of these two aspects is one of Québec's major recurrent demands, alongside limiting federal spending power in Québec's areas of legislative jurisdiction and granting Québec additional powers in the areas of culture, communications and immigration. The aim of these demands is to enable Québec to implement public policies that align with its specific priorities and fundamental characteristics.  

On November 27, 2006, the House of Commons passed a resolution recognizing Québec as a nation. This resolution read as follows: "That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."

This resolution did not create any specific measures favourable to Québec, nor did it translate into action that would satisfactorily meet Québec's recurrent demands. A resolution of this type also has no legal effect and is essentially a symbolic gesture (Henri Brun, Guy Tremblay and Eugénie Brouillet, Droit constitutionnel, 6th edition, Éditions Yvon Blais, 2014, para. IV. 90).

The passing of An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec

On June 1, 2022, in a powerful statement, the Parliament of Québec passed An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, SQ 2022, c. 14, which introduced two new sections into the Constitution Act, 1867:

  • 90Q.1. Quebecers form a nation.
  • 90Q.2. French shall be the only official language of Quebec. It is also the common language of the Quebec nation.

Section 90Q.1 allows Quebecers to express in the Constitution that they form a nation.

Section 90Q.2 reiterates that French is the official language of Québec and reflects the province's intent to fully exercise its legislative powers to preserve its French-speaking character and make its own linguistic policies. It also affirms that Québec is the heartland of the French language in North America and that this distinction is an aspect of the Canadian context that cannot go unmentionned.

It should be noted that the Supreme Court of Canada stated that Québec has "distinct legal traditions and social values" in a major advisory opinion in constitutional law issued in 2014 (Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6, [2014] 1 SCR 433, para. 49). In a unanimous decision handed down in 2021, the Court of Appeal of Québec also wrote that it is "an indisputable sociological and political fact" that "Quebec is not a province like others" and that "Quebec is the hearth and home of the French language and culture in North America and its legal regime based on the civil law differs markedly from those of its partners and neighbours" (Henderson c. Procureur général du Québec, 2021 QCCA 565, para. 104, unofficial translation). These statements are not meant to "negate or diminish the significant and important special characteristics of the other provinces of Canada, but rather to prevent Quebec's own significant and indisputable characteristics from being eclipsed or eliminated from the legal discourse."