‘Can’t serve two masters’: Parti Québécois leader refuses to swear oath to King

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Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said Tuesday he didn’t want to swear an oath to King Charles III, but the newly elected member wouldn’t say what he would do if his formal request to the legislature is rejected.

Before they can take their seats in the legislature, members are required to swear an oath to the British Crown and to the Quebec people.

St-Pierre Plamondon, who is scheduled to be sworn into office on Oct. 21, says he has formally asked that he be allowed to sit after taking an oath only to the people of Quebec. The PQ is a sovereigntist party that advocates for Quebec independence from Canada — and from colonial procedures and traditions.

“It is a conflict of interest that your first act, your first meaningful gesture is to take an oath toward the population that elected you and simultaneously take an oath to the Crown of a foreign country,” St-Pierre Plamondon told reporters Tuesday in Montreal.

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“It’s obviously a conflict of interest: you can’t serve two masters at the same time.”

St-Pierre Plamondon, who won his seat in the Montreal riding of Camille-Laurin on Oct. 3, said several times during the campaign that he would not take an oath to a foreign crown. He repeated Tuesday that he would not betray an undertaking he made to Quebec voters.

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The PQ elected three members to the legislature. St-Pierre Plamondon said the two other members of the PQ caucus — Pascal Bérubé and Joël Arseneau — will join him in refusing to swear an oath to the Crown.

But the PQ leader was evasive about what he will do if his formal request to the legislature is denied, adding that he will take things one step at a time. Meanwhile, he said he has legal opinions that demonstrate the legislature isn’t obliged to take action against elected officials who refuse to take an oath to the King.

“I do not see in the current legal framework of the (legislature) any obligation … to take measures or to prevent me from doing my job as an elected member,” St-Pierre Plamondon said.

In 2018, PQ members reportedly took the oath to Queen Elizabeth II but added the words “until Quebec is independent.”

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That same year, Québec solidaire members — who are also sovereigntists — took the oath behind closed doors without cameras present.

St-Pierre Plamondon said he doesn’t want to take an oath “in secret.” He recognized, however, that the oath of office isn’t the most pressing issue for Quebecers, but he said his position is about his convictions.

“The absurdity of this ritual has gone on long enough,” St-Pierre Plamondon said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2022.

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