Parti Québecois on constitutional thin ice

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If there is one thing about this election that scares the shit of me—and should scare you as well—it’s the shocking declaration of Jean Francois Lisée, the self-proclaimed savior of the increasingly-ugly Parti Québecois.

Lisée said that a PQ government would not hesitate to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ notwithstanding clause (yes, that’s the same constitution that he says was rammed down Quebec’s throat in ‘82!), just as Quebec has done ever since the Supreme Court found sections of Bill 101 unconstitutional.

He told an audience of radical Péquistas that his government would “have no hesitation to use the notwithstanding clause as a preventive measure,” against what he called the “Canadian” judges that sit on the court (ignoring that three of the current judges are from Québec). This was nothing short of a call for lawlessness in Québec.

And this is by no means a rogue element in the PQ. Pauline Marois may have her strong points (I’ll get back to you on that one!) but upholding the constitution is not one of them. If we look at the PQ platform in this election, we find a plethora of potential constitutional violations, some so outrageous, they’re beyond belief.

Let’s begin with the most notorious: applying bill 101 to Colleges (CÉGEP) in Quebec. Discriminatory policies has always been controversial with the courts, but this measure takes discrimination against allophones in Quebec to new extremes. They are already forced to send their children to French high schools under the current law (lets leave aside the passerelle schools loophole). Now the PQ is shrieking that students are not learning enough French and will have to go to French CÉGEPS, as well.

Aside from the fact that they are delivering the coup de grâce to the English schools that are increasingly dependant on immigrants and their children for business, they are also infringing on a number of basic Charter rights with this excessive measure. Namely: liberty (section 7) and equality (section 15) since this measure would only apply to allophones and perhaps francophones whose parents didn’t attend English schools. There are no valid arguments that this undermining of basic liberty and equality could conceivably be saved by section 1 and justifiable ‘in a free and democratic’ society.

Ditto for the PQ’s ‘secular charter’. Let’s set aside for the moment the obvious hypocrisy of allowing some religious symbols (i.e. crucifix in the National Assembly) and not others, and just look at the legality of what’s being proposed. Can we ever square the idea of fundamental religious freedom guaranteed by the Charter (section 2) with a state imposed secularism? The answer is, of course, an emphatic no.

Finally, will the PQ ever pull of their nefarious plot to prevent non-francophones from running for public office through some sort of French language proficiency test? We know that Marois had since reneged on the piece of bloody red meat to her hungry radical separatist base, but that fact that she had to reconsider her position on the issue, speaks volumes about her true intentions.

If this is what the PQ has in mind for the lucky few who will be eligible for their precious Quebec ‘passport’, I think I’ll hold on to my Canadian passport for the time being, thank you very much.

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