The Changing Nature of Québec-Canada Relations: From the 1980 Referendum to the Summit of the Canadas

Courchene, Thomas J.
Queen's University
Year of Publication: 

This paper traces the economic and political evolution of Quebec-Canada relations from the 1980 Referendum through to the July 2004 Council of the Federation (COF) meeting at Niagara-on-the Lake. The underlying thesis is that Quebec's traditional demands for acquiring greater powers within the federation have now given way to demands for acquiring greater access to revenues in order to be able to fully exercise its existing constitutional powers. What has triggered this rather dramatic shift is the advent of globalization and the knowledge-based era (KBE), both of which have served to redefine what meaningful sovereignty is all about in the 21st century. In short, sovereignty is now about how societies live, and work and play, which in turn means that on the policy front it is all about education, skills, health, cities and citizens generally. In Canada, these are largely provincial powers. This being the case, it is hardly surprising that Quebec's rallying cry is focussed on restoring vertical fiscal balance in the federation.