Both Canada and the United Kingdom have used referendums, albeit sparingly, to resolve constitutional issues, including proposals for the independence of Quebec (1980 and 1995) and Scotland (2014). The procedure was different in each case. In Scotland, the legality and procedure for the referendum was agreed by both the UK and Scottish governments and the question evaluated by an independent body and then accepted by both sides. Both sides promised to respect the result. This was not the case in Quebec. In the UK the principle that a simple majority was sufficient was accepted, which it was not in the Quebec case, partly because Quebec contains national minorities. In both cases, the question put was whether or not to accept the proposition (independence in Scotland and ‘sovereignty’ in Quebec), when opinion polls showed strong support for an intermediate position. The advantage of the Scottish option, of an agreed question, is that attention during the campaign was focused on the merits of the issue, rather than the meaning of the question.
|Title of host publication
|Constitutional Politics and the Territorial Question in Canada and the United Kingdom
|Subtitle of host publication
|Federalism and Devolution Compared
|Michael Keating, Guy Laforest
|Published - 2018
|Comparative Territorial Politics