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Quebec abolishes obligation for National Assembly members to swear an oath to the monarchy

10 Dec 2022 5 minute read
Leader of the Parti Québécois Paul St-Pierre Plamondon signs an oath only to the people of Quebec. Source @PaulPlamondon/Twitter

Luke James

Quebec has abolished the obligation for members of its National Assembly to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarchy before they can take up their seats.

Opposition parties and the government last night united to pass a bill exempting Quebec from the requirement in the Canadian constitution to take an oath to Canada’s head of state and instead making respect for “the National Assembly as the sole oath required.”

The vote ends a two-month stand-off between parliamentary authorities and members of the Parti Québécois who refused to take the oath, although the change could still be challenged in court.

The centre-left and pro-independence Parti Québécois, who were the dominant political force in the country’s parliament as recently as 2014, won just three seats in October’s elections.

In an effort to put themselves back at the centre of political debate and win back nationalist voters from the governing Coalition Avenir Québec, Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon announced shortly after the election his intention to “take an oath only to the people of Quebec.”

He continued his campaign last week by trying to enter the chamber, known as the Salon Bleu, where he was first turned away by a police officer and then the sergeant at arms, who explained she had received “a clear order” that he was not to be allowed to enter without taking the oath.

It was a stunt for the scrum of TV cameras which flanked him but one which helped to force the government to bring forward the bill abolishing the requirement to take the oath five days later.

“The oath of allegiance is outdated and no longer reflects our values,” said Jean-François Roberge, Quebec’s minister for the French language, Canadian relations and the democratic intuitions, on publishing the bill on Tuesday.

“In recommending this change, the government of Quebec is taking action in keeping with the democratic values of our institutions.”

The move won the support of the unionist Liberal party as well as that of the other opposition party, the left-wing and pro-independence Quebec Solidaire.

“We agree that it’s time to move on,” said Liberal opposition leader Monsef Derraji in the debate ahead of yesterday’s vote, but added he hoped the parliament would now return to “real issues”.

Quebec Solidaire spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois addressed a tongue-in-cheek congratulatory message to the leader of the Parti Québécois, saying: “I hope passionately that England lose in the World Cup tomorrow. Between that and the oath, the sun will finally set on the empire.”

By last night, St-Pierre Plamondon and the two other elected members of his party had taken the new oath and will be able to take their seats when the National Assembly sits again in January.

“It’s a source of pride for us but above an important moment for Quebec,” he wrote on Twitter.

‘Cost’

The political consensus over the change reflects an apathy in Quebec for the monarchy, according to professor Daniel Béland of Montreal’s McGill University.

He told Nation.Cymru: “Support for the monarchy has long been low in Quebec, especially among its francophone majority, and current support is very low.

“In the aftermath of the accession of Charles III to the throne, for instance, the polling firm Léger found that only 15% of Quebeckers care about the monarchy.

“This certainly explains why members of Quebec’s National Assembly voted in favour of the new bill, even those belonging to the federalist Liberal Party of Quebec.”

The Monarchist League of Canada, which said the government of Quebec should concentrate on real problems facing its citizens like the cost of living crisis, has said it hoped the change would be subject to a legal challenge.

A possible legal challenge was also hinted at by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, who gave assent to the change on Friday but reminded the government “they have a duty to ensure the legality and constitutionality of the bills they submit for assent.”

Professor Béland said legal experts were highly divided on whether Quebec had the power to change the oath of allegiance contained in the federal constitution.

But he added: “It is very unlikely the Trudeau government or federal opposition parties will challenge Quebec’s new bill, in part because they know such a move could cost them a lot of votes in the Belle Province.”

Even if the decision were overturned, the three Parti Québécois members can no longer be prevented from entering the chamber. What’s far more uncertain is whether this game of thrones will have the desired effect in helping their party regain the crown in Quebec politics anytime soon.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

The rest of Canada should follow suit and then every nation possessed of any self respect.

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

Won’t happen in the Senedd, it’s full of unionist parties.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Very much so…Sympathisers who see England as their country but won’t outright say it. I just don’t understand why so many are made to feel like it’s somehow shameful being Welsh! It’s quite the opposite in fact.

Rhosddu
Rhosddu
1 month ago
Reply to  Riki

I think those people have a ‘British’ rather than an English mindset, Riki, although I’m aware that it often comes down to being the same thing.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhosddu

Perhaps In a modern context! But what they don’t realise is that British in a historical and cultural context means Welshness! It’s Only Wales and Britain that are interchangeable. Not England and Britain.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Meanwhile we are acting like good little boys and girls and keeping our mouths shut, all the while we get taken advantage of time and time again. Good to see Quebec show some spine, and really does put our people to shame.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
1 month ago

I hope to see our Senedd doing the same one day soon.

Andy Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

Me too, I think you will more likely to see a pig fly first

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy Williams

Some of those pigs are too heavy to fly!

Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago

Vive las Québécois

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

It is not up to us to tell the good folk of Canada 🇨🇦 or any of its constituent parts what to do on this as it’s not for our well meaning x football ⚽️ leading next door nation to tell any other constituent part of these islands what they can or cannot do on pledging allegiance.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

This is a positive move by Quebec’s National Assembly. Our Senedd should follow suit. The only oath sworn should be to the country and people you serve not to any unelected mafioso plutocrat who’s never done a hard days work in their entire privileged life. I can see one day Quebec gaining its independence from Canada. Vive la Quebec!

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Vive La Quebec Libre.

Nia James
Nia James
1 month ago

Parliamentarians in Québec see the people as the most important part of their society, rather than some privileged elite. Cymru must look to follow our transatlantic friends, but sadly so many of our Senedd Members are obsessed with serving the British State and the English Royals. The last thing on their minds are the Cymry.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

And high time our Senedd did the same. It should be the people of Wales Senedd members swear alliegance to and promise to serve

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

That’s how to be a grown up, not swear to a brutal past. All of politics show swear to the people it represents, not the descendents of criminals

Andy Williams
1 month ago

Well done Quebec, sanity at last.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

French Quebec declares freedom from swearing allegiance to the English monarch as France knock England out of the World Cup just to press the point home. My my, how disrespectful! 🫤

Doctor Trousers
1 month ago

“The Monarchist League of Canada, which said the government of Quebec should concentrate on real problems facing its citizens”
You’re literally called the monarchist league of Canada. You’re a league that exists for the sole purpose of supporting the monarchy. You’re in no position to tell anyone what they should concentrate on.
They’re about as well placed to lecture anyone about focusing on the things that matter as the society for putting things on top of other things.

Last edited 1 month ago by Doctor Trousers

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