Canadian province of Quebec wants to end politicians’ ‘repugnant’ mandatory oath to King Charles

The Queen in Quebec in 1959

Quebec plans to introduce a law that would mean elected officials would not have to swear an oath to King Charles in the Canadian province’s national assembly, according to a government official.

The parliamentary leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government said they are ready to introduce a bill that would end the requirement, which critics call outdated.

Simon Jolin-Barrette said: “I think Quebecers are behind us. We can do this quickly together.”

The oath could instead be optional, a government spokesperson said.

Britain colonised Canada in the late 1500s and eventually defeated French colonists who had largely settled in Quebec, which is still mostly French-speaking.

Canada is now one of 15 Commonwealth realms – countries that retain the British monarch as their head of state.

It is also a member of the Commonwealth – a group of nations which historically was made up of former British Empire countries that have or had the British monarch as head of state, but now includes other nations with aligned interests.

The speaker of Quebec’s National Assembly said on Tuesday that all elected members must swear an oath to King Charles and not just to Quebecers in order to perform their duties.

However, elected members of two political parties that advocate Quebec’s independence from Canada have claimed they would not take the oath.

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, leader of the sovereignist and social democratic provincial party Parti Quebecois (PQ), said in a statement: “Perjuring myself in my first act as an elected official and swearing allegiance to a foreign colonial empire that caused harm to Quebec, I find that repugnant.”

The Queen in Quebec in 1959
Image:
The Queen in Quebec in 1959

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He added that his party had raised several possible solutions with the CAQ, but did not address the proposed bill.

Quebec’s National Assembly is set to resume later this month following an October election where the centre-right CAQ won a sweeping majority.

Quebec has a historically uneasy relationship with the rest of Canada, having only narrowly voted to stay part of the federal state in a 1995 referendum.

While Quebec’s parliament is only one of 10 provincial legislatures, the province holds an untypical position in Canadian politics as it has provided many of the country’s prime ministers over the last 50 years, including Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre, and also supplies, by law, three of the country’s nine supreme court judges.

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