The Discussion Continues
The constitutional order has already been shaken by the numerous discussions in the public sphere questioning the oath of allegiance to the King. In mass work in the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, it is not uncommon for people to talk about this. Why would we have a foreign monarch in the National Assembly? Why in a modern Quebec? It would be a good thing if a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) refused to pledge allegiance. This puts the battle for Quebec to assert the sovereignty of the people back on the table.
This week, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the Parti Québécois, said that if elected he would like to sit as a member of the National Assembly without pledging allegiance to King Charles III. He said: "You cannot, following a democratic and legitimate exercise, force elected officials... to swear an oath to the Crown of a foreign country. I will find a way to make it clear that I do not pledge allegiance to a king, not only of a foreign country, but of British colonialism that has caused real harm to Quebecers [and] Indigenous nations."
He is looking for options, and he put it this way: "I want to talk to the people in charge of protocol and procedure at the National Assembly. I think there is something absolutely unethical and unacceptable about saying that an elected official who is the product of a vote -- so who is democratically elected -- becomes in Quebec automatically constrained to a foreign monarch." The fact is that pledging allegiance to the people of Quebec with one hand and pledging allegiance to the king with the other is nonsensical.
While the polls said he was unlikely to be elected in the Camille-Laurin riding, the situation changed this week. It is said that he has a chance to be elected in Camille-Laurin, after the Québec Solidaire candidate was forced to resign because she removed PQ flyers from a resident's mailbox.
At the constitutional level, according to Patrick Taillon, professor of constitutional law at Laval University, the Canadian Constitution does not provide for any sanctions. However, he said, the Secretary General of the National Assembly, overseeing the signatures of the MNAs who take the oath and making sure that everything has been done according to the rules, could decide to impose a sanction. At the same time, he added that it would be surprising to see the Secretary General prevent an elected official from sitting in the Blue Room because he or she had not sworn to the monarchy. "That would not be in our custom and in the zeitgeist," he added.
Another possibility is that the National Assembly votes in favour of a law to abolish the oath to the British monarchy.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to solving the problem.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 23 - October 2, 2022
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