Le 15 novembre 1976, le Parti Québécois prenait le pouvoir au Québec. Puisque l'objectif majeur du gouvernement Lévesque est de conduire la province de Québec vers les chemins de l'indépendance, il convient d'ores et déjà de s'interroger sérieusement sur l'agenda d'éventuelles négociations entre, d'une part, un gouvernement mandaté pour faire la sécession et, d'autre part, une équipe de négociateurs représentant le reste du Canada. Sans doute, l'un des points cruciaux d'un tel agenda serait la question du partage de l'actif et du passif de la Couronne aux droits du Canada. L'étude qui suit n'a pas d'autre objectif que d'analyser les données pertinentes du droit international sous ce rapport.
Dans un premier chapitre, l'auteur examine le sort théorique que pourrait connaître la propriété publique fédérale sise dans les limites géographiques du Québec. L'enquête démontre deux choses. Premièrement, l'actif passe automatiquement à l'État nouveau et point n'est besoin, à cet égard, de la conclusion d'un accord spécial. Deuxièmement, l'actif passe automatiquement à l'État nouveau, sans compensation aucune, à moins, bien entendu, que les parties ne se mettent d'accord sur le principe d'une compensation quelconque.
Dans un second chapitre, l'auteur s'intéresse à la question de savoir si l'État nouveau serait obligé, en vertu du droit international, à assumer une part quelconque de la dette publique canadienne. L'analyse démontre que la pratique des États, dans son ensemble, ne reconnaît pas l'existence d'une telle obligation, bien qu'elle ait sanctionné le principe d'une répartition à diverses occasions. Toutefois, des considérations de justice et d'équité ont conduit la plupart des publicistes à reconnaître l'existence d'une obligation morale à la charge de l'État nouveau.
En droit strict, il semblerait donc que le Québec n'aurait rien à débourser pour l'actif qu'il recevrait automatiquement et n'aurait rien à débourser, également, au chapitre de la dette publique fédérale. Toutefois, l'examen minutieux du fondement de ces curieuses solutions traditionnelles, selon lesquelles l'État sécessionniste succéderait à l'actif et non pas au passif de l'État prédécesseur, amène l'auteur à plaider pour une solution plus logique et plus juste aussi. Le problème réel, à ce niveau, consiste cependant à élaborer des critères de répartition qui seraient justes et équitables pour les deux parties en présence; à cet égard, la pratique internationale n'offre pas de solution magique et tout laisse croire que la méthode la plus sûre est encore celle qui tiendrait compte d'indicateurs économiques.
In France, public service rests upon the fundamental rule of the specialization of the law applicable to public servants. This entails that public servants are given a special status that singles them out from others in the other economic or social sectors.
That special legal status of the French public service is however being diminished under the influence of external factors. Economic factors tend to subject public servants to the general law of labour contracts. Political factors tend to give public servants the complete enjoyment of fundamental rights and civil liberties. Finally, administrative factors such as policies favouring mobility and promotion tend to lessen the importance of rigid classification and grading.
On the eve of major statutory changes in the law of the public service in Québec, Professor Timsit’s study provides an interesting comparative viewpoint.
In both Canada and the United States, the relationship between Church and State has caused problems which have had to be resolved by the courts on a case by case basis. In Canada, much more than in the United States, there have also been problems over the language question which also have had to be resolved by the courts. Indeed, in Canada the language issue can be considered to be the counterpart of the black versus white problem of the United States.
In both Canada and the United States, the question is the protection of the rights of the minority, but the constitutional provisions of each that relate to these rights have a different approach. In Canada they take the form of permissions which are found in Sections 93 and 133 of the British North America Act. In the United States they are in the form of prohibitions found in the First and the Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. In Canada, the effect of the Constitutional provisions vary from Province to Province, depending on what the situation was in a Province at the time it became apart of the Dominion. In the United States, the Constitutional prohibitions apply to all of the States in the same manner. But whatever the nature of the Constitutional provision, in both countries there has not been a lack of cases. Moreover, in both countries a quick, easy solution to the problems presented will probably never be found. Meanwhile, about all that the courts of either country can do is to continue the case by case approach so that it will present a reasonably consistent pattern as new problems develop and passions erupt.
On September 30th, 1977, the Supreme Court of Canada has delivered a judgment in the case of Cablevision (Montreal) Inc. v. Le Sous-ministre du Revenu de la province de Québec, where the fundamental problem of the qualification of things has once more been reviewed. In this instance, the Court had to qualify a network of wires and various apparatus belonging to the appellant and fixed, under a lease, by this corporation to poles being the property of the Bell Telephone Co. and the Hydro-Québec Corporation, as well as an antenna, also belonging to Cablevision, fixed to the roof of the Montreal skyscraper Place Ville-Marie, the property again of a third party.
All these things, formerly moveables, have been held by the Supreme Court to have become immoveable by nature, due to their close attachment to the buildings to which they were affixed. This judgment will have to be distinguished from the former leading case of Nadeau v. Rousseau which held that the incorporated moveable had to become part of the building itself or be indispensable to its natural use.
Since a TV antenna fixed to a building is not an essential part ofthat building nor even useful to it, the Court must fall back on the test of close attachment in order to determine its character.
The writer of this paper feels this decision is sound reasoning, and recalls the true nature and origins of property immoveable by its nature. Since only land is a real immoveable by nature, buildings are held so only because of their attachment to the land. Again, things immoveable by their destination are held to be so mainly because of their close relationship to the building. The test of physical attachment is then the only true objective test to qualify moveable things when affixed to an immoveable.
The prohibition of pyramidal lotteries was introduced in the Criminal Code in 1935. Yet, such activities have increased since the beginning of the 1970's, especially in the province of Quebec.
One should distinguish between pyramidal lotteries prohibited by the Criminal Code and pyramidal sales. Distinctions between these two concepts brought the courts to deal with nuances. Each case relates to its own facts. Considering the ingenuity of promoters of such schemes, the courts have had to unmask different forms of operations, in order to detail the constituent elements of the offence and to decide upon the validity of different defences.
One might think that the question has been covered, but it will be necessary to wait and see what will be the effect of the new article 190 of the Criminal Code, which authorizes a provincial license to operate a pyramidal lottery.
On October 20, 1976, a new Insurance Act came into force in Québec. It was expected to solve, among other problems, most of those concerning the relationship between insurance law and matrimonial regimes and the interpretation of the relevant statutory provisions. Unfortunately, only a few articles in the marriage covenants section of the Civil Code were amended.
This paper stresses the fact that the main problem in insurance law is the definition of basic elements, such as the policy, the proceeds, the owner and the beneficiary, and that the new act has failed to clarify the meaning of those terms. The paper analyses the notions of policy and proceeds, with regard to the partnership of acquests and the community of moveables and acquests, and comes to the conclusion that, although effective for insurers, the new act has not solved problems raised by the cases and the authorities.
This paper presents a study as of July 1977, of statutory provisions, regulations and decisions which relate to the jurisdiction of the Quebec Public Service Board (Régie des services publics) and the law of municipal corporations in the field of public utilities. Among the topics covered are the following: the amendment of zoning by-laws prescribing the joint use of facilities by public utilities; disputes that arise when public utilities are required to use underground facilities; the role of municipal corporations in the provision of public utility services; and disputes between municipal corporations and public utilities.
Two recent statutes adopted by the provincial Legislature will have considerable impact on the rights of children: Bill 24 replaces the Youth Protection Act and alters substantially the protection, both social and judicial, afforded to minors; Bill 65 replaces the concept of paternal authority of the Civil Code by that of parental authority. One cannot but laud the Legislator's intentions apparent in such statutory enactments but one must also note certain incoherent aspects of these recent laws. Thus, the reform of parental authority is much too limited and should have been carried out in the context of a complete revision of family law. As for the new Youth Protection Act, such a piece of legislation raises important questions concerning its implantation and application.
This paper inderlines in a cursory way some questions of interpretation that seem to arise from Quebec's new Charter of the French Language.
The Charter breaks new ground in legal terminology. Some of the new terms and phrases introduced raise definitional problems, notably the concept of a "business undertaking".
The task of specifying the meaning of words and phrases used in the Charter has been left to the Cabinet, through an usually wide delegation of regulation-making power. However, the reconstructed French Language Board (Office de la langue française) has also been granted significant regulation-making authority, which may in some cases overlap with that of the Cabinet.
The nature and extent of rights and obligations that seem to arise under the Charter may be difficult to ascertain. In particular, the effect or provisions as to the language of standard form contracts, and the manner of enforcing them, seem fraught with uncertainty.
While the Charter obviously confirm the principles underlying the previous Official Language Act of 1974, it achieves greater clarity and consistency in stating those policies. In some respects, it allows for more flexibility than the earlier Act.
The enforcement provisions of the Charter place greater emphasis on coercive action as regards the language of business. The Charter also breaks new ground by introducing a form of joint management of language conditions at work.
In order to allow innovations to settle down, it is suggested that uncertainties be resolved by accumulated experience rather than through over-hasty amending legislation.
The possibility of establishing investment trusts in the Province of Québec was examined recently by the Supreme Court in the Higher case. Investment trusts, in Québec, are possibly created as a species of contract but as civil law trusts, they cannot be admitted. This point is well settled by the case. The court also examines the recourse in damages under article 1065 C.C. for inexecution of promises contained in a prospectus: the provincial courts were well familiar with recourses in delict in such cases but contractual relief, although suggested, was not clearly admitted. The case now offers a definite answer to this uncertainty.