ST-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU — PQ MNAs woke up to some good news Wednesday morning: it seems Quebecers have a renewed interest in their Charter of Quebec Values.
“Secularism is a good means to put a wall in front of this radical current because it tells them don’t try to impose upon our schools and hospitals and public institutions your religious agenda,” said PQ MNA and leadership candidate Bernard Drainville. “We’re telling you in advance our state is neutral here so don’t try to impose things that are not reasonable.”
Support for the charter plummeted during the last election but terrorist attacks in Paris seem to have changed the way Quebecers feel about immigrants.
A new SOM-Cogeco poll suggests one in six Quebecers has a more negative perception. Sixty-eight percent of Quebecers polled (after distribution of the undecided) say the province needs a Charter of Values. Of that number, 74 per cent are Francophones, 52 per cent are Allophones and 34 per cent are Anglophones.
“The real debate is not whether or not a nurse should wear a scarf in a hospital, that’s not the subject right now,” said PQ leadership candidate Alexandre Cloutier.
“The subject right now is what are the measures Quebec will put in place to fight extremist people that have decided to settle in Quebec.”
The PQ wants a research center on fundamentalism and thinks the province’s education minister should crackdown on religious schools with links to terrorism.
“I don’t want us to finance schools that carry a message which goes against our values in Quebec,” said PQ House Leader Agnès Maltais.
Arriving in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where a radicalized man hit and killed a soldier last fall, even Pierre Karl Péladeau was forced to jump into the debate.
He told reporters he would ban people in positions of authority – including teachers – from wearing religious signs.
“Are there any other questions?” Péladeau asked before hastily retreating.
The PQ recognized Wednesday it does not have one clear position. Leadership candidates all have different thoughts on the issue. But they said at least they are talking about fundamentalism, unlike Premier Philippe Couillard who keeps postponing the debate and whose deep discomfort, they said, probably comes from having worked in Saudi Arabia.