Politics
Separatist PQ loses bid to ditch Canadian flag

Pauline Marois takes part in the swearing-in ceremony of the members of the PQ in front of the spot where the Canadian Flag used to stand at the National Assembly in QC, Sept. 17, 2012.

Credits: Stevens LeBlanc/Journal de Quebec/QMI Agency

GIUSEPPE VALIANTE | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL - The Canadian flag will stay in Quebec's legislature.

The leader of Quebec's third party announced Wednesday afternoon that his MLAs will vote with the Liberals to keep the flag where it is.

The separatist Parti Quebecois had asked the Speaker of the legislature last week to remove the flag.

The Liberals were steadfast against it.

The motion to remove the flag was set to be voted on in a week's time. The vote would have been the first of its kind in Quebec history.

On Wednesday, Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault - who himself once championed sovereignty - told QMI Agency that his 19 MLAs will vote with the Liberals next week.

The PQ's minority government doesn't have enough votes by itself to remove the Maple Leaf.

"Honestly, I don't want to waste another two seconds on this issue," Legault said. "I have never received one call from a citizen regarding the war of flags ... it just takes the Liberals and the PQ to have this war."

Yves-Francois Blanchet, the PQ MLA who first asked the legislative Speaker to remove the flag, told QMI Agency Wednesday that the Maple Leaf shouldn't be in the legislature as a question of jurisdiction and history.

He said the flag was introduced to Quebec's parliament in 1985 - the Maple Leaf only dates back to 1965 - and was removed for the first time by former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau in 1994, only to be reinstated in 2003 when the Liberals regained power.

"The principle is that the only people who have jurisdiction in Quebec's legislature are those who are elected," Blanchet said. "It's about the exclusivity of the Quebec flag."

Liberal MLA Laurent Lessard wrote to the Speaker of Quebec's legislature last week and argued that the Canadian flag "is not an accessory."

"It's a symbol of belonging to our federation and a symbol of Canadian identity," he wrote. "As long as Quebec is part of the Canadian federation, it would be unacceptable to remove it from the legislative chamber."

The PQ caused controversy when it removed the Canadian flag in September from the legislature's upper chamber, also known as the "blue room." The upper chamber most often serves as a backdrop for ceremonies.

The lower chamber, or "red room," is the legislative assembly.

- With files from Jean-Luc Lavallee


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