British Journal of Canadian Studies

Exporting the clarity ethos: Canada and the Scottish independence referendum

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2014), 27, (2), 195–216.

Abstract

Canada's Clarity Act, an act governing the process and practice of future referendums on Quebec sovereignty, has managed to find its way into the discourse, discussion and debate surrounding the 18 September 2014 referendum in Scotland. This article explores the notion of ‘clarity’ as it is being applied to the Scottish referendum, the consequences of this emergent ethos and how the question itself has become a preoccupation for both Separatists and Unionists alike. Having taken form in Canada, and now being utilised by lawmakers in the UK, the ‘clarity ethos’, as we argue below, is altogether an unattainable ideal. Subject to interpretative/cognitive bias, referendum questions, and how they are formulated, deserve the same level of analysis as the debate and discussion precipitating them.

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Author details

Verrelli, Nadia

Cruickshank, Neil