One year in, Pauline Marois is perfecting the art of sovereignty politics

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of the Quebec election that saw Pauline Marois' Parti Quebecois earn a minority government.

On election night, the new premier made no bones about her intentions.

"I would like to talk to our friends and neighbours in Canada," she said during her victory speech.

"As a nation we want to make the decisions about the things that are important for us. We want a country. And we will have it."

Obviously, Marois hasn't obtained her goal of an independent Quebec but in many subtle ways, she has masterfully forwarded her sovereignty agenda.

[ Related: Unwelcome by PQ Values Charter? Come to Calgary: Mayor Nenshi ]

Having a minority government she's had to tread very carefully.

She hasn't, however, been afraid to ruffle the feathers of Quebec federalists and those outside the Quebec borders.

Last September, the Canadian flag was was removed from the Quebec legislature as members of the PQ were sworn into office.

In December, the government introduced Bill 14 which would have strengthened Quebec's French language laws. One of the things included the legislation was an edict ordering companies with 26 to 50 employees to obtain Certificates of Francization, indicating that all communications within the workplace were in French.

As of this week, it looks like the PQ will scrap Bill 14 due to lack of support from the opposition parties.

[ More Canadian Politics: “An epidemic of sick-leave abuse” in public service says taxpayer watchdog ]

Marois also embarked on a Quebec independence road show, of sorts.

In December, in New York, the premier addressed a crowd of well-heeled business types telling them that they shouldn't lose sleep over an independent Quebec.

"As you know, I hope that one day the people of Quebec will one day be a part of the concert of nations," she said, adding that sovereignty would not change borders or the province's relationship with the U.S.

And, in January, Marois was in the Scotland supporting a Scottish independence movement.

“It will show that this [independence] is not an old idea, but a very modern idea, and Scotland is an example in this perspective,” Marois told reporters.

“It will tell Quebeckers that it is still possible to attain the objective,"

[ Related: Quebecers support the Parti Quebecois’ Values Charter: poll ]

Of late, Marois is doing what every separatist premier before her has done: She’s participating in 'identity' politics.

This week, according to the Montreal Gazette, the PQ announced that they are "taking steps to improve the teaching of 'national history'" in their public schools. The Gazette suggests that the 'national history' will be Quebec's and not Canada's.

Next week, Marois' party will introduce a Values Charter which will reportedly ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.

The proposed secularization plan has caused outrage across the country — except in Quebec — playing into the hands of the separatists who are often buoyed by the 'us versus them' battles.

[ Related: Harper speaks about Quebec’s proposed Values Charter ]

There's no indication that Quebecers are in the mood for a sovereignty referendum — just yet — but it looks as if Marois is doing all the right things.

According to Le Devoir, the governing PQ have rebounded from an early-term dip in the polls and now have the support of 32 per cent Quebecers — the same level of support they had on election night 2012.

The poll numbers suggest that Marois could very well have another year in power — another year to forward her sovereignty agenda.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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