Montreal

CAQ tables bill to get rid of mandatory oath to King in Quebec

The Coalition Avenir Québec government tabled a bill on Tuesday that would make it possible for MNAs to sit in the National Assembly even if they don't swear an oath to the King.

Bill tabled Tuesday would add section to Constitution Act of 1867 to exempt Quebec

By law, the oath to the king and the Quebec people are both required in order for an MNA to sit in the National Assembly. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The obligation for members of the Quebec legislature to swear an oath to Canada's monarch may soon be coming to an end.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government tabled Bill 4 on Tuesday. The purpose of the bill is to abolish the requirement for elected officials to swear an oath to the King before they can take their seats in the legislature.

Right now, the oath to the monarch and to the Quebec people are both required.The three Parti Québécois (PQ) members who were elected in October have sworn only the oath to the people.

Last Thursday, they were barred from taking their seats in the legislature.

A woman confronts a man who holds a paper in his hand.
Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, centre, speaks to National Assembly sergeant-at-arms Véronique Michel who prevented the three Parti Québécois elected MNAs to enter the Salon Bleu to sit at the legislature in Quebec City, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Jean-François Roberge, the minister responsible for democratic institutions, received a standing ovation from his colleagues as he introduced the bill. 

The bill tabled on Tuesday adds a section to the Constitution Act of 1867 exempting Quebec from the application of the section that requires the oath, Roberge said.

Constitutional scholars are divided over whether Quebec has the power to unilaterally eliminate the oath requirement for its legislature or if changing that element of the Constitution requires the consent of all provinces and both houses of Parliament.

The MNAs for Québec Solidaire (QS), another sovereignist party, also refused to swear an oath to the King following October's election. Unlike the PQ, they changed their minds once the Speaker of the National Assembly ruled that there was no way to skip the oath and exercise their roles.

Last week, QS tabled its own bill to make the oath to King Charles III optional. MNAs with QS and the PQ have dismissed the oath to the King as an archaic and colonial practice.

With files from The Canadian Press

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