The founders of a new federalist party say they plan to field candidates in the next provincial election in Quebec, to fill what they call a “gaping void” in Quebec policy on minority rights, including rights English linguistics.
The group behind the Parti canadien du Québec, led by spokesman Colin Standish, made the announcement in a press release Monday night, saying it wants to provide a voice to Quebec voters who “feel betrayed and abandoned by the CAQ and the Liberal Party of Quebec”. “
Standish, a law graduate from the University of Sherbrooke, started a group called the Political Options Exploratory Committee to examine whether there was enough support for a new political party, following his work with a group of work opposed to the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s language bill, Bill 96.
While protecting minority language rights is one of the founding principles of his new party, Standish believes the Parti canadien du Québec will have appeal beyond the English-speaking community.
“We need a progressive federalist option that is resolute in its defense of human rights and freedoms, language rights and that also builds a narrative that can unite all Quebecers – Anglophones, Francophones, newcomers and Aboriginals, in a common cause,” Standish said in an interview Tuesday.
The party will be officially launched next month, he said.
The Canadian Party of Quebec (CaPQ) is just the latest to target disgruntled English-speaking and minority voters, after former Montreal mayoral candidate Balarama Holness announced plans to create a party called Mouvement Quebec.
Like the Mouvement Québec, the CaPQ fiercely opposes both Bill 96 and the law known as Bill 21, which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by officials in positions of authority.
The CaPQ said it would push to repeal those two laws, as well as the law passed as Bill 40, which eliminated most of the province’s school boards and converted them into service centers.
The party would also argue for the removal of the notwithstanding clause from the Canadian constitution, which the CAQ government used preemptively to protect Bill 21 Charter challenges — a move that a Quebec Superior Court judge called “excessive” and “troublesome.”
Target Liberal Voters
While Standish denounces these CAQ policies, he also attacks the official opposition, which he accuses of not doing enough to support minority rights.
He listed criticism of the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) dating back to longtime Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa’s launch of the Bélanger-Campeau commission, which recommended another referendum on Quebec sovereignty following the failure of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990.
He also criticized the PLQ for a law on religious neutrality introduced when Philippe Couillard was prime minister, which required anyone receiving public services to do so with their faces uncovered.
He criticized Dominique Anglade’s Liberals for their proposal to amend Bill 96 to require all college students to take three courses in French – a proposal the party has since tried to reverse.
“When it comes to federalism…on human rights and freedoms and on language, the Liberal Party of Quebec has failed miserably for decades, and we need better,” Standish said.
André Fortin, the House leader of the Liberal opposition, said he heard “the frustration of many people” in the English-speaking community with the Liberals’ Bill 96.
However, Fortin urged voters who oppose the CAQ government, and the language bill and Bill 21 in particular, to avoid splitting the vote.
“The ideas in these bills are their ideas. They are not ours,” Fortin said. “If you vote for a party like the one proposed today by Mr. Standish… you could elect more people from the Coalition Avenir Québec.
Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said all Quebecers have the right to form a political party if they do not feel represented.
But he questioned the position that Anglophones are targeted by the CAQ government’s bill to protect the French language.
“I don’t think Bill 96 is an attack on the English-speaking community,” Nadeau-Dubois said.
He said his party is working to improve the bill and “to help the CAQ find the balance between protecting French and protecting the historic rights of the English-speaking community, which we all respect at Québec solidaire.”
Pascal Bérubé, the Parti Québécois spokesman for French language, secularism and relations with English-speaking Quebecers, suggests the new party will pose a similar problem for Liberals as he believes vote splitting did for the PQ, in the formation of the party. recent defeat in the by-elections to Marie-Victorin.
“We are used to certain initiatives wanting to be another type of Parti Québécois,” declared Bérubé, in an apparent rant at Québec solidaire.
“Now it’s on the Liberal side…I’m sure they’re more worried than us.”