Quebecers ready to put charter of values to rest

WATCH ABOVE: Experts suggest that Quebec’s election results came down to the many undecided voters, some of whom were perhaps even pro-charter but could not stand the thought of another referendum. Rachel Lau reports.

MONTREAL – There were tears in her eyes when former Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announced she was quitting politics after losing both her seat and the election.

It came as a surprise to many, as she went into the election confident of a majority government.

Some Montrealers however, couldn’t hide the smiles on their faces.

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“All Quebecers won yesterday because we moved past identity issues,” said Shahad Salman, a human rights advocate.

After her community was forced into the spotlight by the Parti Quebecois’ controversial charter of values, Salman admitted that she doesn’t feel too sorry for the PQ’s defeated leader.

“The PQ government played on fear,” she said.

“Someone would have expected someday that it would come back to them.”

Complete coverage of the 2014 Quebec provincial election

Experts have explained that the results came down to the many undecided voters, some of whom were perhaps even pro-charter but could not stand the thought of another referendum.

“The thing in their minds when they were ticking their ballot was “Do I want to go through the whole devastating process of a referendum?'” said Robert Leckey, a constitutional law professor at McGill University.

“It divides people, ordinary government grinds to a halt. People thought about that and they said ‘No.'”

With the charter and the referendum behind Quebecers, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) said that it’s ready to start working with the new government.

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READ MORE: Organizations lining up to voice their thoughts on charter of values

“This makes life a little bit easier,” said LBPSB chairperson Suanne Stein Day.

“We can focus on our actual mission, which is to educate the students.”

Less than 24 hours after being elected premier, Couillard confirmed that the Liberal Party will be working on its own proposal, which he said will respect values without discriminating against ethnic minorities.

“I’ve said this many times: that faces should be uncovered, that accommodations should be better defined, that our history and our patrimony should be protected and that the concept of the neutrality of the state should be defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedom,” he said at his first press conference as premier-elect.

As the rain washes away all that’s left of the former government, Salman said that she is breathing a sigh of relief that it was the threat of a referendum that finally put the charter to rest.

“Now that it’s over, I think we can move forward for a new Quebec,” she said.

All eyes will be on the Liberals now to see if they’ll be able to live up to high expectations.

Watch: Philippe Couillard delivers speech about uniting province

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