Reference re Secession of Quebec | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Reference re Secession of Quebec

The Reference re Secession of Quebec was a reference case of the Supreme Court of Canada. It came after the 1995 Quebec referendum. The Court was faced with the question of whether Quebec could decide on its own to secede from Canada.

On 20 August 1998, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that such a unilateral declaration would violate both Canadian constitutional law and international law. However, the Court also ruled that a constitutional amendment would make such a secession possible. The Court added that if Quebec held a referendum on secession with a clear question and won a clear majority, the rest of Canada would be constitutionally obliged to negotiate the terms of Quebec’s secession. The Court declared that a secession must follow such basic principles as the rule of law, democracy, federalism and the protection of minorities. The guidelines for determining a “clear” question were laid out by the federal government in the Clarity Act (2000).

See also: Constitution of Canada; Constitutional History; Constitutional Law; Constitutional Monarchy; Quebec Referendum (1980); Separatism in Canada; Sovereignty-Association.