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Sunday, April 19, 2015


Saskatchewan has filed a written argument with the Supreme Court in the

federal government's reference case over Quebec's right to secede from


Premier Roy Romanow and Justice Minister John Nilson outlined details

of the province's argument (factum) today.

"One of the most important points Saskatchewan makes in its factum is

that Canada is a nation, with its own identity," Romanow said. "The

Fathers of Confederation created a new nation in 1867.

"Canada is not a contract that one can just walk away from. Canada is

a nation. It is both a nation and a federation because the Fathers of

Confederation wished to create a country which would develop a common

identity but which would also respect, rather than assimilate, the

distinctive identities of its citizens.

"The PQ's threat to unilaterally declare sovereignty prompted us to

intervene in this case. It is important to understand whether such an

action is authorized by law," Romanow said.

In its written brief:

Saskatchewan agrees with the federal government that Quebec does

not have the right to unilaterally secede either under Canadian

constitutional law or international law.

Saskatchewan also argues that significant changes to the

federation, such as the departure of a province, cannot take place

without the consent of a substantial number of provinces.

Premier Romanow reiterated his commitment to improve the federal system

and to prevent the possibility of a vote for sovereignty in Quebec.

"We need to continually work at modernizing our federation to ensure

our nation remains true to its values," Romanow said. "I believe most

of the issues facing our federation can be remedied without

constitutional amendment, through common-sense arrangements. Much has

already been done.

"I also believe that part of the issue can only be addressed through

constitutional change - addressing the issue of Quebec's role within

our nation. We require change that recognizes the distinct, unique and

historical position of Quebec. We need an intelligent discourse about

alternatives and movement towards a sensible and fair package which,

exhibiting one of Canada's great values of accommodation, embraces

Quebecers' hopes and aspirations," Romanow said.

Justice Minister John Nilson detailed the main points of Saskatchewan's


Quebec has no right to secede unilaterally under Canadian

constitutional law. Secession would require constitutional

amendments which can only be made in accordance with the amending

formulae contained in the constitution. As secession would be a

"significant constitutional upheaval", unilateral amendment by a

province is not authorized by the Constitution.

Further, because secession would affect provisions of the

Constitution which apply to all provinces, bilateral agreements,

agreed to solely by the federal government and the Government of

Quebec, are also not authorized by the Constitution. Thus, some

level of consent by other provinces would be required to amend the

Constitution to provide for Quebec secession.

International law does not give Quebec a right to secede from

Canada either. While Quebec may have a right to

self-determination, this right is fully accommodated within

Canada. This is clearly the case because Quebecers have the same

right to be represented in the national government as all other

Canadians and have a substantial level of autonomy, as provided

for by the federal system.

While there is no conflict between Canadian constitutional law and

international law regarding Quebec's right to secede, even if

there were such a conflict, the Constitution of Canada is the

supreme law of the country and would take precedence over

international law.


For more information, contact:

Julianne Jack

Media Services

Executive Council


Phone: (306) 787-6349
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