Quebec’s minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, says that if the Parti Québécois were to get a majority government in the next provincial election, it opens the door to a future referendum.
'It’s like good art — we know it when we see it,' - Jean-François Lisée, PQ Minister responsible for Montreal
“We don’t commit to holding a referendum in any automatic way in a first mandate. We are not giving a timetable because we don’t have one. When we will ask this question again it’s because we will be confident that a majority of Quebecers want to take this step,” Lisée said.
He said if the party is re-elected, it will wait and see if there are clear signs of support first.
“The criteria for us is when a majority of Quebecers will be willing and able to say yes — that will be the moment we will choose. It’s like good art — you know it when you see it.”
Lisée also says he thinks a lot of anglophones who do not necessarily agree with the PQ's ideas about identity and policy issues do still think it provides good government.
He also acknowledged that a lot of francophones don't recognize the efforts and investments made by the anglophone community.
“By learning French in tremendous numbers — extraordinary numbers — the anglo community is much more bilingual than any other community in North America, except for French-Canadians living outside Quebec … The importance that they give to the economy, to the technology of Montreal, is undervalued,” Lisée said.
But members of the Liberal party accused Lisée of sugarcoating the issue.
“Mr. Lisée seems to play the ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ role in this government — whether it’s on language, whether it's on referendum, he gives reassuring messages, particularly when he’s interviewed in English. He can say what he wants but the intent of the PQ, as it always is, is to break up Canada,” said Liberal MNA Geoff Kelley.
Kelley said even just talks of a future referendum is enough to take a toll on Montreal’s economy.
“Montreal pays the cost of the uncertainty … We can’t be dividing people. We have to bring people together because it’s a huge challenge to ensure our economy is competitive.”