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Quebec Liberals promise to make more 'checks' before voting in favour of CAQ motions

Quebec Liberal Party interim leader Marc Tanguay speaks during question period, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. (Karoline Boucher, The Canadian Press) Quebec Liberal Party interim leader Marc Tanguay speaks during question period, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023 at the legislature in Quebec City. (Karoline Boucher, The Canadian Press)
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The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is promising that it will be more 'vigilant' in future and will carry out more "checks" before voting in favour of CAQ government's motions.

Last Thursday, the Quebec legislature unanimously adopted a motion by Minister for the Status of Women Martine Biron denouncing the Supreme Court of Canada's words to refer to women.

The decision in question, R. v. Kruk, handed down on March 8, contains the expression "person with a vagina."

The motion asked that the national assembly "reiterate the importance of retaining the word 'woman' and dissociate itself from the use of terms or concepts that contribute to the invisibilisation of women."

It also noted "the significant gains made in recent decades to advance women's rights and the need to protect these acquired rights."

The text was presented jointly with Liberal MNA and former prosecutor André A. Morin, Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon and independent MNA Marie-Claude Nichols.

However, the very next day, experts suggested that the national assembly had got it all wrong: the 249-page Supreme Court decision reaffirms the rights of complainants in sexual assault cases.

Moreover, the words "person with a vagina" appears only once, in paragraph 109.

The word "woman" appears 67 times.

On Tuesday, interim PLQ leader Marc Tanguay appeared before journalists with an air of repentance: "It wasn't a good day," he said.

"We took it as a way of being more vigilant," he said. "If we had to do it again, we would have drafted the motion differently (...) As a group, it was a lesson.

"Maybe from now on you'll see motions where we say: 'Look, we're not going to rule on this this morning. We're going to postpone our judgment. Otherwise, there will be no consent,'" he added.

It went much too fast

Québec solidaire (QS) also seems to have some regrets.

"It went much too fast last Thursday," QS parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois told a news briefing. "Perhaps we all need to take notes on the way motions are presented (...) on subjects (...) as complex as these."

Nadeau-Dubois went on to say that it was an "open secret" that motions were part of a "political game" in Quebec.

"The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) often does this, launching motions very quickly on complex issues. The opposition parties don't always have the time to check," he said.

He explained that in this case, QS voted for the motion, despite its misgivings, because the party did not want to "leave any ambiguity about the fact that we are not in favour of the invisibilisation of women."

The PQ and CAQ persist and sign on

St-Pierre Plamondon argued, on the other hand, that it was possible to look at the Supreme Court decision that morning and make up one's mind. He said he had no regrets about having supported the motion.

"We assessed the judgment and were comfortable enough to take a position in favour of the motion," he said. "The use of the expression 'person with a vagina' is inexplicable."

On Monday, Biron also told Radio-Canada that she had "no regrets" because she felt that the expression "person with a vagina" was loaded.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 19, 2024.   

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