Members of Quebec’s national assembly observed a moment of silence for Nelson Mandela this morning at their regular session before they take a break for the December holidays.

The assembly also passed a motion presented by Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir to mark Mandela’s passing:

Be it resolved:

That the national assembly offers its sincere condolences to the South African people and to Nelson Mandela's family and loved ones.

That the assembly salutes his patient and unifying struggle to free his people and his efforts to reconcile the South African people despite the deep wounds inflicted under apartheid.

That the assembly recognizes the precious heritage left to all of humanity by this man of destiny and exceptional courage whose thirst for justice, extraordinary courage and sense of reconciliation transformed the history of an entire continent.

Turbulent sitting period for PQ

The motion to mark Mandela’s passing was a sombre end to a sitting period marked by a number of highs and lows.

The opposition says the Parti Québécois has mismanaged the economy, pointing out the recent admission that the province will end the year with a $2.5 billion deficit.

“What I’ve seen is a very arrogant government,” said Liberal party leader Philippe Couillard.

But Premier Pauline Marois shot back, accusing the Liberals of systematically blocking all her government's efforts to bolster the economy.

“They disagree with many of our projects, and we don’t know what is their position on many projects because they say: 'No,'” Marois said.

Fall’s greatest hits at the national assembly

After a major push by the Parti Québécois to strengthen Bill 101, the province’s French language charter, the proposed Bill 14 died on Nov. 15.

"We want to get the law passed, but if it's not, we can't force the issue… It will die on the order paper," said Premier Pauline Marois in August, months before the bill was shelved for good. "It won't stop us from working on the language front, however."

Bill 14 would have made amendments to the Charter of the French Language and to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that reaffirmed French as the official language of Quebec. Some of its most controversial proposals included limiting access to English-language CEGEPs and removing the current exemption from Quebec's language laws that allows francophone military members to send their children to English schools.

Mining bill tabled at the last minute

Just hours before the national assembly closed its fall session, a procedural vote took place Friday afternoon on a last-minute bill.

The PQ reintroduced its mining bill, which tries to update the rules on how mining companies operate.

With unanimous consent during Friday's procedural vote, the government can move on to the next step — to pass its mining bill before the holiday break.

“We have the obligation, as far as I’m concerned, to reach an agreement,” said opposition MNA Gérard Deltell with the Coalition Avenir Québec.

Deltell joined officials from all the parties in last-minute talks to try to get the bill passed.

“It’s the first meeting we have with the government concerning this project. I think it’s a little bit late, but it’s never too late to do things properly,” said Liberal Official Opposition House Leader Pierre Moreau.

The government will reconvene in a special session as early as next week to vote on the bill.

A previous incarnation of the mining bill died on the order paper in October because its opponents decided it gave the government too much power over mining companies.

Introduced in May, the mining bill originally aimed to collect up to 50 per cent in royalties on the value of extracted minerals. The bill was created in response to former Premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord, which the PQ government said gave away Quebec’s natural resources.

A watered-down version of the bill pegged the royalties at a more conservative 15 per cent, after the PQ was accused of scaring away business from the province.

The changes include backing away from giving the minister full veto power over all projects, and it eases environmental review requirements for smaller projects.

Secular charter hearings set for January

The national assembly will reconvene on Jan. 14, 2014 to begin hearings on the proposed secular charter, also known as Bill 60. Arguably the most controversial piece of legislation the PQ introduced this session, the bill would see the banning of overt religious symbols in the public sector workplace.