Prime Minister François Legault “fears the rise of the PQ”, according to the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. This, in his view, is the conclusion that must be drawn from the meager budgetary resources and the short speaking time allocated to the PQ opposition in the National Assembly during the present mandate, according to the agreement reached last Friday. .
This presumed fear of a possible resurgence of popularity for the sovereigntist formation prompted the government to be “intransigent” during these negotiations with the PQ and to treat it differently from the other parties, and in an unfair way, maintains the PQ leader, convinced that his party is the big loser in the process.
Because according to his reading of the events, the government of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) “does not fear much” Québec solidaire (QS) nor the Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), the two other opposition parties which obtained from him everything they asked for, in terms of budget and speaking time.
“Québec solidaire has increased its budget by almost $1 million, even though they only have one more MP. They got all their requests. The Liberals will operate no less than 4.5 million budget, while they have fewer votes than the Parti Québécois,” notes the PQ leader, bitter.
In a telephone interview with La Presse canadienne on Sunday, on the sidelines of the electoral report which brought together his party’s candidates in Drummondville during the last election, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon reminds us that, during this time, he will have to be content with a annual budget of $570,000 to run the Third Opposition.
“When there is such a marked and clear intransigence towards the Parti Québécois and the treatment is so differentiated between the parties, what must be concluded is that the CAQ fears the Parti Québécois, fears the obvious rise of the Parti Québécois” , maintains Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon, adding that it will be necessary to draw political conclusions.
Take an oath to the king?
Moreover, two days before the start of the next parliamentary session, the PQ leader still does not want to open his game, revealing what his strategy will be regarding the oath to King Charles III.
According to the rules in force, the three PQ deputies will not be able to sit and take their place in the Blue Room, since they refused to declare their allegiance to the British crown.
If they maintain their position and defy the Canadian Constitution by showing up anyway in the Blue Room, they run the risk of being expelled on the spot.
In this regard, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon says that no scenario is excluded as to how the three elected PQ members will behave in Parliament as of Tuesday.
To sit in Parliament, Members must take two oaths, the first to the people of Quebec, the second to King Charles III. The outgoing president, François Paradis, said recently and without ambiguity that there would be no preferential treatment.
The present mandate, which began on October 3, is a laborious start for the PQ opposition, which, having succeeded in electing only three members, has since sought to obtain an adequate operating budget and minimum speaking time, while campaigning to make the oath to the British monarchy optional.
Given the very small number of elected PQ members, Mr. St-Pierre Plamondon announced on Sunday that the party would recruit former candidates with expertise in a given sector to occasionally play the role of co-spokesperson for the PQ opposition on certain issues.
They will come to lend a hand to parliamentarians, particularly during press briefings in Parliament. They will be between 10 and 15, will not be paid, but will be able to attend caucus meetings and represent the PQ opposition in certain events, on occasion. Their precise mandate and the terms of their role remain to be defined. Unless I am mistaken, this type of operation constitutes a precedent.
The PQ is also launching a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising $120,000 by Christmas to hire two employees who will enrich the parliamentary wing of the third opposition group.
“The spirit of innovation” will therefore be welcome in the PQ during the mandate to compensate in all possible ways for the lack of means made available to it, commented the leader of the party.
From a budgetary point of view, the PQ claimed an annual operating amount of $800,000 net (therefore not counting the remuneration of constituency staff). He was initially offered $495,000. On Friday, an agreement was reached for $570,000 net, which is far from the goal.
As far as speaking rights are concerned, the PQ opposition wanted to obtain the guarantee of being able to ask one of the nine questions a day from the ranks of the opposition. He was offered the opportunity to ask five questions per cycle of one hundred questions. The agreement provides for seven per cycle, or two per week in practice.
The PQ also wanted to have a seat on the Bureau of the National Assembly, the BAN, responsible for managing disputes between parliamentarians and making decisions relating to the functioning of the assembly. He was refused, offering him in exchange the status of “observer”, without the right to speak.
Normally, to obtain full recognition in the Chamber, the regulations of the National Assembly provide that a parliamentary group must have had at least 12 deputies elected or have obtained 20% of the vote.
However, the PQ only elected three deputies, but still won 14.6% of the popular vote, which allowed it, according to him, to claim some form of recognition from its peers.
The Quebec Liberal Party forms the Official Opposition with 14.3% of the vote and 21 MNAs (now 19), and Québec solidaire elected 11 MNAs with 15.4% of the vote. The CAQ obtained 41% of the vote and 90 seats, or 72% of the total of 125 seats.
During question period, the speaking time reserved for each opposition party will therefore be divided as follows: for each cycle of 100 questions, the Liberal opposition will be able to ask 62, Québec solidaire 31 and the PQ only 7.