With new elections to the provincial assembly in Québec expected soon the Globe and Mail carries what it claims will be the agenda of the nationalist Parti Québécois (PQ) should it regain power:
“With an election expected to be called this week, the PQ refuses to lay out a timetable for a third referendum on sovereignty in the event of a victory. Still, the PQ promises that it would immediately try and whip up popular support – possibly through a referendum on its constitutional demands – in a bid to obtain more powers and money from the federal government.
“I don’t see how we can lose,” Bernard Drainville, a PQ MNA and lead party spokesman on constitutional issues, said in an interview. “If Quebec wins, it becomes stronger. If Quebec is rebuffed, the demonstration is made that there is a limit to our ability to progress in this country.”
The issue of Canada-Quebec relations is guaranteed to play a part in the provincial election. The governing Liberals are set to campaign on a promise of constitutional stability, arguing that PQ Leader Pauline Marois’s priority is calling a third referendum on sovereignty and causing political chaos in the province. The upstart Coalition Avenir Québec, meanwhile, is trying to attract sovereigntist and federalist voters with its promise of a 10-year moratorium on constitutional battles, in order to focus on economic and social matters.
The PQ is refusing to box itself in on its timetable for a referendum on sovereignty, but vows to quickly make life miserable for the federal government after nine years of relative calm with the Charest government.
The sovereigntist party wants the federal government to turn over its powers and all related funding on matters such as employment insurance, communications and culture, and economic regional development. In addition, the PQ wants the language policies in Bill 101 to apply everywhere in Quebec, including federally regulated sectors such as banks and transportation.
“We want to move from a position of weakness to a position of strength with Ottawa,” Mr. Drainville said. “We will work to make gains for Quebec, to obtain a maximum amount of money and powers. We will work to obtain the largest possible number of victories for Quebec and Quebeckers, on all fronts.”
The PQ refuses to promise that it will hold a so-called “sectoral referendum” on its constitutional demands, but Mr. Drainville said that his party is ready to use “all means” at its disposal in its constitutional battles.
“We will not only rely on tribunals or letters to our federal counterparts. We will do it by involving the Quebec population in the process, by asking Quebeckers to support us,” he said. “We want the government’s demands to be the people’s demands.”
The PQ promises to negotiate in “good faith” with Ottawa, stating it will be up to Quebeckers to pass judgment on the federal government’s openness to the province’s demands in the events of a referendum on sovereignty.”