Marois denies PQ would be beholden to popular ballot initiatives
Published Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:29PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 23, 2012 6:31PM EDT
MONTREAL - PQ leader Pauline Marois was hammered with questions about her party’s popular ballot initiative Thursday, after the issue was raised by rival CAQ Francois Legault on televised debates the evening prior.
Marois was forced to clarify her stance on her ability to block any measures supported on a petition signed by 15 percent of the province’s population, or about 850,000 people.
The popular ballot initiative has been a part of the PQ program since last winter and was portrayed by Legault as a tool for radical separatists.
Pauline Marois explained that her party would only consider, but not necessarily automatically approve, the possibility of a referendum once 850,000 signatures had been gathered.
"It will force a government to reflect deeply," Marois said of the petitions demanding a plebiscite. "Ultimately, it's up to the National Assembly to decide when there will be a referendum."
“If it's not the time to ask the question I think. I have to be responsible and I will take the decision,” said Marois.
Marois also defended her controversial plans for a Quebec citizenship.
If adopted, newcomers would have to undergo a language test before running for office.
Her only concession was that Natives would be spared, and current non-francophones in Quebec wouldn't be affected.
“When you live in a country, you have to learn the language; here the official language is French. But it's not a country? It's French!” she said. “The message will be very clear for new Quebecers: when you come to here when you want to live here you will have to learn French”
Legal experts are almost all unanimous. Such a law would be unconstitutional
“I think it will be struck down by the Quebec Superior Court, the Quebec Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court,” said lawyer Julius Grey.
One veteran MNA objected to the idea that bureaucrats should not be able to block any candidate based on their evaluation of someone's language skills.
“It’s up to the electors to choose their representatives, not Pauline Marois or some language test she wants to impose on the democratic process,” said Jacques-Cartier Liberal MNA Geoff Kelley.