Lesson #54: The Quebec Charter of Values

The Values Charter is a political ploy and will not become law during the present Marois government’s term of office so stop freaking panicking.

Marois may be a useless piece of crap but she and the rest of the PQ leadership have political smarts. They know what is going to happen if the proposed law successfully gets through to the voting stage, – a huge if – and that’s that it is bound to fail. The reason for this is simple. Marois has a minority government with a plurality of only fifty-four of the 125 seats in the Quebec National Assembly.

A plurality of seats means less than half them, but more seats than any other party, the Liberals, the Coalition Avenir du Quebec (CAQ), and let’s not forget Francoise David’s Quebec Solidaire with its two measly seats. Like any government caught in a situation of having a plurality rather than a majority of the available seats be it in the Quebec National Assembly, the Legislative Assemblies in Alberta and Ontario, or in the federal House of Commons, it is vulnerable to defeat if the other parties – the Liberals and the CAQ and QS – gang up and vote against it. If this ever occurs, it can result, depending on the issue then before the House, in the defeat of the minority government ensuing from a Motion of (Non) Confidence being moved against that government.

When the party in power has a majority of the seats in the Quebec National Assembly, for instance, it cannot be defeated by the combined forces of the Liberals and the CAQ, because it has fifty percent plus one of the 125 seats. At least sixty-tree seats are thus required for a majority government and the PQ has only fifty-four. Even if the two Quebec Solidaire members vote with the PQ, the Yes side would still be defeated thus ensuring that the charter does not become law.

The only way that Marois can hope to get the charter passed would be if the vote on it occurred in the aftermath of an election in which the Parti Québécois got at least 63 seats and therefore a majority government. Fat fucking chance of that happening. That bitch can’t get a majority as long as Montreal exists. Thank God that the regions do not hold more sway in the political battle over the charter. Since sixty percent of francophones outside Montreal support the charter, and if we depended more on outcomes of the vote outside Montreal and it’s suburbs (i.e. Laval and the south shore), things would be quite different and more non-francophones would be packing their bags and leaving this screwy province.

Calm down friends. There is a bit of both stress and sweat when you engage with the fight over the charter, but basically it’ll all turn out well, at least in the foreseeable future and beyond that for as long as the Marois faction can be kept at bay. Put succinctly, no majority PQ government equals no Charter.

The fact that Francois Legault’s CAQ was not consulted before the charter was tabled in the National Assembly speaks to Marois’ political cunning. Does the PQ want to get this document passed? Yes. Does the PQ know, given the present day configuration in the National Assembly, that there is no way that their bill is not dead in the water? Yes again. Finally, what does the PQ hope to gain from this mess?

Well let’s see. To to be known as the champion of the Quebec nation and it’s people and not having to share this mantle with the CAQ which they may have risked doing had they consulted with the CAQ only to see their bill watered down in some way. If Marois had worked with the CAQ and made some compromises to get the CAQ onside, she could have gotten the charter through the National Assembly. Apparently this option didn’t interest Marois.

To create so-called winning conditions in terms of promoting Quebec independence from the rest of a Canada and this Marois seeks to accomplish in two spheres. First, internally, by antagonizing certain undesirable elements of the Quebec population (read anglophones and allophones, “No” voters in future referenda in other words) so that some of those already living in Quebec leave the province as many others have already done and continue to do. There is also the notion of attracting the right kind of immigrants, francophone Yes voters in other words.

Here the PQ appears not to have thought things through. Many Yes votes would potentially emanate from immigration from the Islamic nations of North Africa – Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco – and Asia, for example. But what Moslem in his or her right mind would want to come live in the repressive atmosphere – both culturally and legally – which the imposition of this charter will create?

Secondly, externally, by portraying the federal government as meddling in the affairs of Quebec another of the Bouchardian winning conditions can come to be. There is already disagreement between Ottawa and Quebec over the Clarity Act. This Act, passed in the aftermath of the 1995 referendum states that a vote of 50% + 1 is insufficient for Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada, something with which the PQ obviously disagrees. The more Québécois who view the federal government as interfering in Quebec’s business, the more potential Yes votes in any subsequent referenda. This is exactly what the PQ wants to see happen. To further antagonize federalists both inside and outside Quebec, Marois has begun to refer to our province as a country which clearly it is not. (The Harper government is responsible for the declaration that Quebec francophones do comprise a nation.)

There is an additional factor mitigating against the values charter ever becoming law aside from the reality that the PQ does not have the votes to get it passed. That is the reality that the courts – both federal and provincial – would cast it aside due to the fact that it is unconstitutional. The charter represents an attack on freedom of religion, a right which has been enshrined in the Canadian constitution as part of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also represents an attack on the Quebec Human Rights charter for the same reason and therefore is unlikely to survive a court challenge. Thank God.

Peace out.

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