(Quebec) The British crown was undermined on Wednesday during a heated debate in the National Assembly.
The Legault government reaffirmed its commitment to abolish the post of lieutenant-governor, who represents Queen Elizabeth II in Quebec, but only “when the context allows it”.
Outraged, the PQ opposition, which wanted to pass a less nuanced motion, calling for the abolition of the British monarchy in Quebec, felt that the Legault government was therefore unmasked, displaying only facade nationalism.
The PQ motion was therefore defeated, the elected CAQ and Liberals voting against. Solidarity supported it.
According to the parliamentary leader of the Parti Québécois, Pascal Bérubé, the nationalism of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) died at the same time as the motion, which aimed to denounce “an archaic and colonial power conquered by arms”.
Because in the eyes of the government, “it is never the right time, there is more important” than this fight against the monarchy, concluded Mr. Bérubé, after a two-hour debate at the Salon Bleu.
The original wording of the motion added that it would also be necessary to delete “all the other symbols of the British monarchy in Quebec”, a segment crossed out by the government in its proposed amendment, which the PQ rejected.
The PQ also wanted the government to endorse the idea of asking Ottawa to reimburse the expenses associated with the lieutenant governor and assumed by Quebec taxpayers. But the government also struck out this paragraph in its proposal.
Disappointed, Mr. Bérubé said he would have liked to see “a burst of pride” and “convictions” appearing from the government benches at the time of the vote.
A “tourist attraction”
However, on the argument, the Minister responsible for Canadian Relations and Democratic Institutions, Sonia LeBel, shared the opinion of the PQ to consider that the post of lieutenant governor constituted an “anachronism” which should be discarded.
In his view, the monarchy should be reduced to “a tourist attraction” for travelers visiting London.
“Me, I think that apart from being an interesting tourist attraction when you go to England, there, I think that indeed it is no longer relevant”, she observed.
Far from distancing herself, Minister LeBel therefore seemed to share, in substance, the reading of the PQ opposition, while presenting amendments intended to qualify the wording of certain statements and, above all, to postpone the deadline.
According to the leader of the PQ, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the government has sought only to escape, to divert the debate and to “postpone the Greek calendar” this commitment which has been on the CAQ’s program for years.
The government version of the motion therefore stipulated “that the National Assembly agree on the relevance of abolishing the office of lieutenant-governor when the context permits”.
The motion also referred to the recent poll indicating that 74% of Quebecers wanted the abolition of the monarchy in Quebec. Mme LeBel said if she had been asked the question she probably would have answered yes as well.
In her remarks, she observed that the office of lieutenant-governor, even if it is only “symbolic”, was nevertheless part of the democratic institutions of Quebec, which are difficult to “unravel”.
“The CAQ is not a monarchist, but the CAQ is first and foremost resolutely pragmatic. And the nationalism that we advocate is a nationalism that aims to achieve concrete results, ”said Minister LeBel.