Québec Solidaire MNAs skip oath to King when sworn in, PQ to follow suit

On Wednesday, MNAs from Québec Solidaire opted to only swear an oath to people of Quebec and skip the oath to Canada's monarch. Parti Québécois MNAs are expected to do the same on Friday.

Decision to swear oath only to people of Quebec puts 2 parties' National Assembly status in limbo

Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, left, and Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, right, refuse to swear allegiance to King Charles III. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

A rule at the National Assembly is being put to the test with MNAs from the province's main two sovereignist parties deciding not to swear allegiance to King Charles III, Canada's monarch. 

Eleven Québec Solidaire (QS) MNAs swore only an oath to the people of Quebec during the party's swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday. The ceremony for the three Parti Québécois (PQ) MNAs is scheduled for Friday.

Swearing-in — including the oath to serve the King — is required to sit as an MNA, and the two parties' decisions calls into question their eligibility to serve in the National Assembly. 

In a news conference that followed Wednesday's ceremony, Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois described the oath to the King as "colonial, archaic and outdated."

"We are now at an impasse.... The ball is now in the court of the elected [officials]," he said.

In 2018, QS skirted the rule by swearing the royal oath in private, an action MNA Sol Zanetti has said made him feel dirty.

On Tuesday evening, Nadeau-Dubois wrote to all parties, asking to discuss solutions. Plamondon suggested a motion be passed eliminating the oath to the Crown.

Plamondon, speaking with Radio-Canada's Tout un matin Wednesday, said he was very happy to see QS would also choose not to swear allegiance to the King. 

"If some parties show that they don't have good faith and they don't want to come to a negotiated agreement, that would be deplorable, but I don't think that's the case," Plamondon said. "I hope that everyone will accept at least to discuss the most efficient way and structure to arrive at the result."

He says his party will keep weighing its options between now and Nov. 29 when the National Assembly resumes.

In response to the debate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Wednesday morning that the National Assembly has the right to decide how it wants to organize its swearing-in process.

"It would take a bill, but for that it takes sitting MNAs to vote on bills," he said. "There are surely rules that regulate how those oaths are taken. I'm not a constitutional expert, but I know the National Assembly will continue to do its job responsibly."

By later in the day, the prime minister had modified his stance and said he did "not want to speculate about what the National Assembly can or cannot do."

Trudeau also said there are no plans to change the oath at the federal level for the House of Commons.

with files from Shawn Lyons and Radio-Canada's Sébastien Bovet