PQ won’t back down on charter; Québec Solidaire tables compromise bill

PQ Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville.
PQ Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville. Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

QUEBEC CITY – Disappointed with the current debate on the Charter of Quebec Values, Québec Solidaire has gone ahead and presented its own bill.

“It’s secularism that we need, not some ethno-religious patrimonial values,” said Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir.

Their proposed piece of legislation contains guidelines on reasonable accommodation, but asks that only people in a position of authority refrain from wearing conspicuous religious symbols. It’s what former premiers Lucien Bouchard and Jacques Parizeau have been advocating. It’s also what was concluded in the Bouchard-Taylor report five years ago. Quebec Solidaire says theirs is a sensible bill, a compromise to help Quebec move forward.

“I don’t think the PQ wants to be associated with radical right or xenophobic, it’s not the right thing to do. We have an opportunity to bridge positions to obtain a way of getting, in a civilized manner, through this debate,” Khadir added.

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The bill is likely to die on the order paper – the PQ is showing no signs of softening its position.

“On the basic principles or basic premises upon which our charter is based we’re not going to pull back,” said Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville.

Drainville told reporters he’s still going through comments from the public. More than 25 000 Quebecers gave their opinion. Results will be made public soon. As for rumours the PQ is dropping the opt-out clause for hospitals, universities and municipalities, a firm ‘no comment’ on Wednesday.

“We’re working on it, we haven’t made decisions yet, we’re still working on it so it’s not for today,” said Jean-François Lisée, minister responsible for Montreal.

The CAQ, whose charter position is somewhere between Québec Solidaire’s and the PQ’s, can’t help but question whether results will be manipulated.

“We really don’t know who wrote what,” said CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy. “When you’re totally anonymous, you don’t sign, you don’t know where it’s coming from, is it from one group or another, we don’t know.”

“There will be no political influence in how these figures will be added up and the picture that will be made public will be a direct result of the comments we got.”

Drainville said he will table his bill on the charter before the end of the Fall session.

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