Montreal

PQ leadership candidate Martine Ouellet presents 'initial Quebec constitution'

Parti Québécois leadership candidate Martine Ouellet says she will ask Quebecers a point-blank question in an independence referendum in her first mandate as premier.

Ouellet's constitution says Quebecers would retain the Canadian passport

Martine Ouellet said an independent Quebec would retain its current borders and have its own army. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Parti Québécois leadership candidate Martine Ouellet says she will ask Quebecers a point-blank question in an independence referendum in her first mandate as premier.

The would-be question is 22 words long in French and that includes the last three words, "Yes or No."

"Do you accept that Quebec become a sovereign and independent country following the initial constitution proposed by the national assembly? Yes or No," is what Quebecers would be asked.

That's about half the length of the 1995 referendum question and considerably shorter than the wordy 1980 offering.

"It's a short question," Ouellet told reporters Monday. "It's a simple one without any ambiguity. It's transparent."

Borders, army, currency addressed

Ouellet's news conference didn't stop at offering Quebecers a new referendum question. She also presented a nine-page document described as an "initial Quebec constitution."

The country of Quebec would be officially secular and the historic rights of aboriginal people "on their traditional territories" would be respected.

An independent Quebec would retain its current borders and have its own army. Instead of a lieutenant-governor, a president elected by two-thirds of the members of the legislature would "have occasional power."

And the only official language in a sovereign Quebec would be French, she said, as is currently the case.

"Forty per cent of Quebecers are for independence," she told reporters. "It's 2.4 million people — that's really a lot."

Ouellet's constitution says Quebecers would retain the Canadian dollar and passport — but that those who want a Quebec and a Canadian passport would be able to have both.

"I think the Canadian currency is the more stable way to do the transition and make all the financial transactions," she said, adding that Quebecers can decide later on for themselves if they want their own currency.

Quebec would officially become an independent country a year after a Yes victory.

Ouellet is one of five people running to replace Pierre Karl Peladeau, who stepped down in May. The winner will be announced in October.

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