QUEBEC - The new Parti Quebecois government has taken steps to officially yank the Canadian flag out of the provincial legislature.
The ornate upper chamber of the legislature, which is used for committee meetings and special ceremonies, is the last place in the building where the Maple Leaf still hangs.
Yves Francois Blanchet, the government whip, made a formal request to remove the Canadian flag yesterday, on the 36th anniversary of the election of the first PQ government in 1976.
That government, under then-premier Rene Levesque, was actually the first to put the Quebec flag in the legislature chamber where the daily debates take place in 1976 and then the upper chamber in 1983.
Since then, the Canadian flag has had a revolving-door existence in the upper chamber, better known as the Red Room.
It was installed there by the federalist Robert Bourassa when he returned to power in 1985, was then removed by successive PQ premiers, and was only brought back by Jean Charest when he became premier in 2003. Bourassa did not put the Maple Leaf in the legislative chamber, fearing a backlash from nationalists.
The PQ had the flag removed from the Red Room during its recent swearing-in but it reappeared afterwards. The new government had not explicitly stated its intentions, before this week.
The Liberals say the current bid to shelve the Canadian flag is disrespectful to Quebecers who voted to remain in Canada in two referendums.
Coalition party member Gerard Deltell says the rest of Quebec is concerned with other matters while the PQ worries about flags.