QUEBEC CITY -- The requirement for elected members of the Quebec legislature to swear an oath to King Charles III might soon come to an end.

The Minister of Democratic Institutions, Jean-François Roberge, tabled Bill 4 in the national assembly on Tuesday, which will put an end to the crisis that has shaken parliament for weeks over the duty of allegiance Quebec elected officials must swear to the British Crown.

For decades, elected officials have been required to swear two oaths to the people of Quebec and to the Crown in order to sit in parliament. The second part of the oath has long been a source of unease for many MNAs.

In short, the bill tabled on Tuesday stipulates that only the oath of allegiance to the people of Quebec will henceforth be required, and the only one that will be mandatory, the other becoming optional.

This is a victory for the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, who was elected for the first time in the Montreal riding of Camille-Laurin on Oct. 3, and who refused to comply with a gesture he described as outdated, humiliating and even repulsive.

The PQ leader and the two other PQ MNAs, Joël Arseneau and Pascal Bérubé, cannot sit in the Blue Room and do their work as legislators until Bill 4 is passed and in force.

In a press briefing on Tuesday morning, an optimistic St-Pierre Plamondon said he was confident he would be able to sit in parliament as early as Thursday, should all parliamentarians work hard to speed up the adoption of the bill.


It is "definitely possible" to proceed full steam ahead on this issue, according to the sovereignist leader, who said he's convinced that the example in Quebec could well spread across the country, "having a domino effect" in other provinces, also interested in challenging the forced allegiance to the British monarchy.

Quebec's parliamentary session ends on Friday, which leaves just a few days for elected representatives to analyze the text of the bill article by article and take the document through all the stages leading to its adoption. If they can't do that, the PQ members will have to wait until the resumption of parliament in February to hope to enter the Salon bleu for parliamentary proceedings.

Last Thursday, the PQ MNAs had tried to enter the Salon bleu, even without being sworn in, but they had hit a wall, being forbidden to enter by the Sergeant-at-Arms, Véronique Michel.

Meantime, Québec solidaire had tabled Bill 190 last Thursday, which would have the effect, like Bill 4, of 'recognizing the oath of members to the people of Quebec as the only compulsory oath upon taking office'. However, the government preferred to introduce its own legislation on the subject.

Now all parties in the National Assembly, including the Liberal official opposition, agree that the obligation of the oath to the King of England should be abolished, which should in principle speed up the process of legislations' adoption.

"We're going to work together to get it passed on Friday,'' confirmed interim Liberal leader Marc Tanguay, who finally abandoned his initial plan to seek consultations on the constitutionality of such legislation, which would have prolonged the process. He also said that if he is re-elected, he will renounce the oath to the king.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Dec. 6, 2022