PQ leader calls on other parties to make oath to King optional

With only days remaining before Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon is scheduled to be sworn in at the National Assembly, he's asking other parties to help make the oath to the King an optional part of that ceremony.

Oath to King mandatory but rule can be changed after, premier's office says

A man speaks into a microphone
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the leader of the Parti Québécois who was elected in Montreal's Camille-Laurin riding, said on Monday that most MNAs at the National Assembly dislike the idea of swearing an oath to the Crown but would only say so privately. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada)

With days left until he's scheduled to be sworn in as an MNA, Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon isn't budging: He does not want to swear an oath to King Charles III, Canada's monarch.

On Monday, St-Pierre Plamondon called on other party leaders to help make sure he, and others who don't want to swear allegiance to the King, aren't barred from sitting in the National Assembly as a result of that decision.

Before they can take their seats in the legislature, newly elected members are required to swear an oath to the Crown and to the Quebec people. St-Pierre Plamondon plans to only do the latter when he and the two other elected members of his party are sworn in Friday.

Discussion about swearing allegiance to the Crown ramped up following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, which happened in the middle of the Quebec election campaign.

In a video released online recently, several Quebec personalities can be seen repeating a fictional oath in which they "deny any allegiance, any submission to Charles III, declared King of Canada." 

While meeting with reporters in Quebec City, St-Pierre Plamondon shared a letter he received from the National Assembly's secretary general in response to his request to ditch the oath to the King.

According to his interpretation of that letter, it's up to the elected members of the National Assembly to decide if those who break the rules should be punished.

WATCH | PQ leader says oath to King doesn't make sense: 

Swearing oath to King creates 'discomfort' for MNAs in Quebec, PQ leader says

5 months ago
Duration 0:53
Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon says it doesn't make sense for newly elected MNAs to swear an oath to the Crown and the rule making it mandatory must be changed.

That's why St-Pierre Plamondon — who earned a certificate in international law from Sweden's Lund University as well as a bachelor's degree in civil law and common law from McGill University — called on the leaders of each party to agree to adopt a motion that would make swearing an oath to the King optional.

"We're facing an issue that goes beyond the traditional political parties and cleavages. It goes beyond the issue of sovereigntists and federalists. It goes beyond partisanship," said St-Pierre Plamondon.

A motion, he said, would be a simple way to set a precedent at the National Assembly and protect the new rules from a legal challenge. 

St-Pierre Plamondon also said King Charles being head of the Anglican Church makes the swearing-in process even more nonsensical given that Quebec is a secular society.

The National Assembly resumes in November.

Before they can take their seats in the legislature, newly elected members are required to swear an oath to the Crown and to the Quebec people. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Oath to King mandatory, spokesperson for premier says

In a statement, a spokesperson for Premier François Legault acknowledged that his Coalition Avenir Québec party wants to "put an end to the obligation of swearing an oath to the King."

However, the spokesperson said the party has sought legal opinions on the matter and MNAs must swear both oaths in order to sit in the National Assembly.

"The CAQ MNAs will abide by the actual rules," said Ewans Sauves. 

"We would also prefer swearing allegiance only to the Quebec people. But to make this change, the MNAs have to be able to sit [in the National Assembly]. When the National Assembly resumes, we'll be able to work with the opposition on how to make this change."

In 2018, members of Québec Solidaire, another sovereignist party, took the oath behind closed doors without cameras present.

The following year, Québec Solidaire tabled a bill that would have made it optional to swear an oath to the Queen. Since it was tabled near the end of a session, it needed to be approved by each party. The CAQ, the PQ and the Quebec Conservatives were on board.

The Quebec Liberals shot it down, arguing that the bill was unconstitutional and, therefore, pointless.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade, said members of her caucus would weigh in on a motion to make the oath to the Crown optional "when we will see it."

"For us, the real priorities of Quebecers is not who we swear an oath to."

A spokesperson for Québec Solidaire referred to the oath to the Crown as "colonial and archaic", and said the party remains committed to working on a bill that would make the act optional.


Antoni Nerestant is a journalist at CBC Montreal.

With files from Radio-Canada


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