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End of the obligation of the oath to the king | “We are not monarchists”, says Roberge

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(Quebec) Minister Jean-François Roberge speaks of an “important gesture of national affirmation”. He tabled a bill on Tuesday which, once adopted, will allow deputies who do not take an oath to King Charles III to sit in the Blue Room and on parliamentary committees. The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, thinks that this debate will cause a “domino effect” elsewhere in Canada.

In the foyer of the Parliament in Quebec, the tie sporting lilies, the Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions said that his gaze was turned “forward”, or rather “towards modernity”.

“We are democrats, we are not monarchists,” said Mr. Roberge, convinced that Bill 4, aimed at recognizing the oath provided for by the National Assembly Act as the only oath required to sit on it, will be adopted by the end of the proceedings before the holiday break on Friday.

Concretely, this Legault government bill modifies the Constitution Act of 1867 by removing Quebec from section 128, which provides that deputies must take an oath to the king of England in order to sit. The CAQ bill now provides that only the oath of loyalty to the people of Quebec, provided for in the National Assembly Act since 1982, is required to sit in Parliament.

Jean-François Roberge says he is well aware that it is above all a symbol. Canada, once the law is assented to, will still be a constitutional monarchy. But “there are things we are able to do without neglecting our work of governance”, he defended.

According to him, the bill proposed by Quebec is “very solid” and will be able to withstand possible legal challenges.

“We are not aliens”

Bill 4 was applauded on Tuesday when it was tabled by all the political parties represented in the National Assembly. According to the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the abolition of the obligation to swear allegiance to the king could interest other Canadian provinces.

“It’s very possible that it would have a domino effect and it would make sense because I don’t think the other Canadian provinces find that this oath makes sense,” said Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon, who has not taken the oath to King Charles III and who is denied access to the Blue Room, like his two other PQ colleagues.


PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, THE PRESS

The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon

The Monarchist League of Canada, an organization founded in 1970 whose mission is to be “the leading voice of intelligent monarchical opinion” in the country, however, sees things differently.

“We exist. We are here. We are not aliens. We are not old English speakers nostalgic for the British Empire. We are not tea-drinking old ladies from Westmount. We are Quebecers, Canadians, down to earth, from all backgrounds. Our voices deserve to be heard,” said The Press one of its representatives in Quebec, Karim Al-Dahdah.

For the League, the oath to the king must remain, because “it is essential that the deputies take an oath to the State”, embodied in our system by the king, but also because the symbols of the monarchy “are part of our traditions and our heritage.

In a press briefing, Minister Jean-François Roberge showed little interest in the opinions of the monarchists. “The monarchists… Let’s say that these are not people from whom I take advice to serve Quebecers,” he swung.

A unanimous position

The interim leader of the Liberal Party, Marc Tanguay, for his part reiterated on Tuesday that his political party would not require public consultations on the bill, which would have had the effect of delaying its adoption. This is a unanimous caucus position, he insisted, even though the Liberals said earlier this fall that consultations were helpful.


PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, THE PRESS

The interim leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Marc Tanguay

“If the government does not want consultations, we will not demand them. And if it is proposed by the government to adopt quickly, by Friday […]we will work together to have it adopted on Friday,” he said.

The co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire (QS), Manon Massé, wants Bill 4 to be adopted quickly so that we can “move on to something else”.

“You will see us very happy if, on Friday, indeed, this question is settled”, she said, while her party also tabled its own bill a few days ago to end the obligation to take the oath to King Charles III.



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