QUEBEC CITY — Just one week after terrorists killed 17 people in Paris, a Quebec politician has kicked off the new year with a brand new Charter of Quebec Values.
Bernard Drainville, a Parti Québécois (PQ) MNA for the riding of Marie-Victorin in Longueuil, argued that putting off the debate because of the current international climate would be to cede ground to extremists.
AT A GLANCE: The original Quebec Charter of Values’ 5 proposals
“If you think it’s a good idea to keep shovelling this debate ahead of us, always ahead of us, and never deal with it, and never resolve it, I think we’re completely disillusioning ourselves.”
The PQ leadership candidate said he wanted to strike up a special task force to deal with fundamentalism and honour crimes.
He also wants Quebec to be a secular society. Drainville would ban religious symbols such as kippas, crosses and hijabs from the public sector.
But he said he has listened to critics and his charter would exclude existing civil servants, cegeps, universities and municipalities.
“You may think this is all bulls**t, but I’m telling you I feel a responsibility to complete this debate,” Drainville said.
Drainville is forcing other PQ candidates, such as Alexandre Cloutier, to take position on the issue.
“We have to be very careful. We have to make sure we don’t go too far,” said Cloutier, who is believed to be in second place in the race.
The PQ’s previous Charter of Values divided Quebecers last year and was partly responsible for the party’s bitter defeat at the last elections.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) urged Premier Philippe Couillard Thursday to present his own secularism bill and put the issue to rest once and for all.
But Quebec’s Justice Minister, Stéphanie Vallée, told reporters she will not work according to the agendas of the CAQ and PQ.
“We’ll do what we have to do,” she said.
“We won’t be pushed forward by the leadership race in the Parti Québécois.”
Drainville argued there is already a large consensus around secularism in Quebec.
He said he believes a Charter of Values would act as a rampart against fundamentalism and terrorism.
Top leadership contender Pierre Karl Péladeau has not made his position public yet.