Charter of Quebec values is a risky gamble

As the Parti Québécois pushes forward with its secular agenda, they could have an even more restrictive proposal in store.
As Pauline Marois' government pushes its secular agenda harder, its chances of earning support from opposition parties dwindles. (Christine Muschi/Reuters)

As the PartiQuébécois pushes forward with its secular agenda, they could have an even more restrictive proposal in store.

The government’s proposed charter of values has ignited debate across the province - it’s most controversial point being the ban of overt religious symbols for workers in the public sector.

However, it’s possible the PQ government may present an even more controversial charter than what's in its current proposal.

As Montreal gears up for the November municipal elections, the major mayoral candidates have already said they plan to ask for an exemption.

But the minister responsible for the Montreal region says that kind of exemption won’t be allowed.

"We planned the right to opt out as a way to allow municipalities and hospitals who have close religious ties with their community to be able to proceed in a smoother way over a longer period of time. It's not designed to allow a whole region to withdraw," said Jean- François Lisée.

The possibility of obtaining an exemption also applies to health and social service institutions as well as Universities and CEGEPs. That exemption would be renewable every five years.

"It's as if Camille Laurin (the father of the charter of the French language adopted in 1977) had said we're going to apply Bill 101 everywhere except in Montreal. Absolutely not," Lisée said.

Meanwhile, the PQ is still reeling from the attacks on the charter that came from inside the sovereigntist tent.

Those attacks and the positions taken by elected officials in Montreal may force the PQ to push the identity buttons even harder.

But as the PQ pushes harder, it’s more and more likely to lose any hope of support from opposition parties.

With a minority government, Premier Pauline Marois might have to accept her secular bill — expected to be tabled this fall — won’t go very far.

Bill 14 - the proposal designed to toughen up Quebec’s French language charter - is also on life support and won't likely make it through the legislature.

So with the charter of Quebec values and the language law both likely to be scrapped by the opposition, what’s the plan?

It’s possible Marois and her PQ government could go into the next election as the uncontested champions of the French language and Quebecois identity.

It's a risky gamble, but it may be the only option they have left.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.