First with Bill 21, and now the law which outlaws cannabis usage until you’re 21, I’m asking myself if the government has invested in the restructuring of Forever 21, a fashion retailer closing down this month after filing for bankruptcy protection. One thing’s pretty sure. The notwithstanding clause is probably not available this time to protect the government from the courts or young minds from the drug, because the cannabis law is not only a violation of charter rights. It is first and foremost a disguised attempt to legislate criminal law, an exclusively federal power under the non-charter part of the constitution, and the clause is of no assistance in jurisdictional squabbles between the provinces and the feds.
Perhaps the government can turn a coming legal defeat into a political victory by making a case to the nationalist voter that this is one more example where the constitution denies Quebec’s ability to be different.