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Parti Quebecois MNAs refuse to swear oath to King as legislature opens; will not sit

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The 43rd session of Quebec's national assembly opened Tuesday without three of its members after the Parti Quebecois MNAs refused to swear the oath of office to King Charles III.

Consequently, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, and MNAs Pascal Berube and Joel Arseneau can not take their places in the 125-seat legislature.

Plamondon said his caucus won't swear the "humiliating" oath, adding that they will try to enter the national assembly on Thursday.

"We continue to believe that this oath is archaic and has no place," the party said in a news release.

To sit, elected members must take two oaths of loyalty: one is to the people Quebec and the other to the King, as required by the Canadian Constitution.

Outgoing Speaker Francois Paradis ruled in November that all elected members must take the oath to the King or risk being expelled from the legislature.

On Tuesday, St-Pierre Plamondon called on newly appointed Speaker Nathalie Roy to reconsider her predecessor's position on the matter.

TWO BILLS ON THE OATH

On Thursday, Quebec Solidaire plans to introduce a bill to make the oath to the King optional, while House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette said the CAQ will introduce a bill next week.

Jolin-Barrette said there is no competition between the two bills, even though they deal with the same subject. Since the government's bill will not be tabled until next week, though, there may not be enough time to pass it during the shortened eight-day session.

"It is our hope that it will be passed before Christmas," Jolin-Barrette added.

ROY TO SERVE AS SPEAKER

CAQ Premier Francois Legault on Tuesday appointed Montarville MNA Roy to succeed Paradis.

Roy served as culture minister in the last term, and would become the second-ever female president of the assembly, joining Parti Quebecois MNA Louise Harel, who served briefly in the position in 2002.

In addition, Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime has said he should be given a permanent place in the national assembly. He said he will send a letter to Roy asking for special status as his party received 13 per cent of the vote (over half a million votes), but did not have an MNA elected.

NEW LOOK ASSEMBLY

There will be 37 new MNAs out of the 125 that took their seats Tuesday, including the new PQ leader and eight new ministers.

With 90 MNAs (up from 74), the CAQ is even stronger than it was in 2018. Forty-one of the record 57 female MNAs in the 125-seat parliament will be in the CAQ benches.

Former Liberal leader Dominique Anglade will, however, not be among the new ranks after stepping down shortly after her party's crushing defeat on Oct. 3. 

DEMONSTRATIONS OUTSIDE

The PQ led two demonstrations in front of the national assembly on Tuesday.

The first took place at noon in favour of electoral reform. The PQ has been vocal about the electoral system in the province that saw the party win just three seats despite getting 14.6 per cent of the vote.

The second took place at 1 p.m. against the mandatory King's oath.

- With files from The Canadian Press


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