QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec Premier François Legault sees Québec Solidaire parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois as "woke," but not in a complimentary way.

The tone the premier used in the National Assembly to describe the new parliamentary leader of the second opposition party on Wednesday during question period left no doubt about the pejorative nature of the epithet chosen.

It was certainly not a compliment.

Legault was stung by the preamble of the question asked by Nadeau-Dubois, who had compared him to former Premier Maurice Duplessis.

The reply was scathing.

"The leader of Québec Solidaire is talking about Maurice Duplessis. He had many faults, but he defended his nation. He was not a 'woke' like the leader of Québec Solidaire," said Legault.

The term woke generally refers to people who are very vigilant in exposing social injustices and especially all forms of racism.

Nadeau-Dubois was trying to make the point that he felt the premier had recently proclaimed himself the "father of the Quebec nation" by intervening in the federal election campaign to strongly defend Quebec values, respect for jurisdictions, Bill 21 on the secularization of the state, and Bill 96 on the revision of the status of the French language in Quebec.

He reminded the premier that he had not been given a mandate by the people to "single-handedly decree what Quebec values are."

In doing so, Legault "succumbed to one of his worst faults. He has started to do his best imitation of Maurice Duplessis," said Nadeau-Dubois adding that "there are millions of people in Quebec who do not recognize themselves in him, who do not recognize themselves in his government, millions of people who are tired of him presenting himself as our saviour, then our redeemer."

When the premier called him woke, the QS MNA would not pick up the gauntlet, saying that if "the premier wants to take the debate down to the sewer, he can do it, I won't follow him."

He pointed out that the critics of Bill 21 are just as much Quebecers as those who support it.

"The premier does not have the right to symbolically expel them from the Quebec nation because they disagree with him. He is a premier, not a monarch," said Nadeau-Dubois.

The heated debate between the two elected officials quickly turned to Quebec-Ottawa relations.

Posing as a sovereignist, Nadeau-Dubois added that the bickering over federal or provincial jurisdictions did not interest him that much.

The premier took the opportunity to conclude that what "Québec Solidaire is telling us is that between now and the next referendum, come and invade our jurisdictions, we like that," said Legault.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 15, 2021.