'Quebecers don't want this': Legault fires back at PQ over referendum calls
QUEBEC CITY -- In a lively exchange during Question Period in Quebec City on Thursday, Premier Francois Legault dismissed the PQ's push for a third referendum, calling it a "bad idea."
"Quebecers don't want this," Legault said, after Parti Quebecois MNA Pascale Bérubé raised the issue to mark the 25th anniversary of the last referendum, which took place on Oct. 30, 1995.
"Can the premier tell me what has changed over the past 25 years, in the relationship between Canada and Quebec, that now justifies his allegiance to Canadian federalism?" asked Bérubé, who is the PQ's parliamentary leader.
The premier responded with a question of his own, wondering why Bérubé and newly appointed PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon believe the results of a third referendum would be any different.
"There is a majority of Quebecers who do not want Quebec independence," Legault said. "I know it hurts the parliamentary leader of the Parti Québécois, but that is the situation."
In defending his record on relations with Ottawa and his plan to win more autonomy for Quebec within the federalist framework, Legault attacked the PQ for not having a plan of its own.
"What's his plan?" Legault asked of the PQ leader. "Hold a referendum? Propose independence? Propose a project that the majority of Quebecers don't want? To be told 'no' a third time? What a bad idea."
Bérubé then elicited a chorus of boos from the CAQ majority, saying sharply, "What is a bad idea, Mr. Premier, is abandoning one's convictions for power."
Legault was himself a PQ member and cabinet minister before leaving the party to form the CAQ in 2011.
"Let him assume his federalism," Bérubé said of the premier. "We are clear. We are for independence."
In response, Legault implored Bérubé to learn from the words of former PQ leader René Lévesque, who warned of politicians who look down on the people and say to themselves: 'Me, I have the truth, but the people do not understand.'
"I took note," Legault said. "I took note of what the people think, and I invite the leader of the Parti Quebecois to do the same."
Earlier in the day, St-Pierre Plamondon told reporters he does not see the 1995 referendum as a defeat for the independence movement but rather a step in the process.