Montreal

National assembly approves Ottawa's Québécois motion

After humming and hawing for two days, Quebec's National Assembly has adopted a motion that acknowledges the recognition of the Québécois nation in the House of Commons.

After hemming and hawing for two days, Quebec's national assembly has adopted a motion that acknowledges the recognition of the Québécois nation in the House of Commons.

The motion was adopted unanimously in Quebec City just before noon Thursday, after the province's government and opposition parties finally agreed on its wording following two days of semantic debate.

The Quebec motion says the national assembly recognizes the positive attributes of Ottawa's motion, but proclaims it does not diminish the constitutional powers or the privileges of Quebec's government and of the Québécois nation.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest had attempted earlier in the week to table a motion extending congratulations to the House of Commons, but the Parti Québécois refused to support it.

On Thursday Charest told the national assembly that Ottawa's motion is an act of respect and marks an important open-mindedness toward Quebec that should be saluted.

"I will go even further, to salute the courage of Prime Minister Harper, for accepting and recasting the motion presented by the Bloc Québécois," Charest said in French.

Harper's motion confirms what Quebec has known about itself for a long time, and indicates a real step forward in the concept of open federalism, Charest continued.

It's an important signal of the evolution of Canada's federal system, while enriching and reinforcing Quebec's role in that process, he said.

Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair welcomed the motion with some reservation, while noting that it does indicate some progress. He reminded the assembly that sovereigntists will still endeavour to fight for Quebec's independence.

Mario Dumont, the leader of Action démocratique du Québec, said supporting Charest's motion was the right thing for thenational assembly to do.

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