What a Parti Québécois victory would mean for the rest of Canada

If a vote were held today, the Parti Québécois would form the next government of Quebec.

A Léger Marketing poll for the QMI news agency, released Friday, shows the PQ with 33 per cent of voter intentions ahead of the Liberals at 28 per cent and the CAQ with 27 per cent. If the polls are to be believed, in less than three weeks, Canada is about to enter an era of constitutional strife not seen since the 1990s.

Over the course of the campaign, Canadians have gotten a glimpse of what a PQ government might look like. The separatist party has already announced its intentions to toughen French language laws and to ban all civil servants from wearing or exposing overt religious symbols.

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And on Thursday we learned that they would selectively disregard Supreme Court of Canada rulings.

Speaking about the policy that would ban religious symbols, a PQ candidate says his party wouldn't hesitate to use the constitutional notwithstanding clause to override any legal argument that the plan violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"Our boss is not the Supreme Court of Canada — our boss is the will of the people of Quebec," said Jean-Francois Lisée, a PQ candidate and longtime party adviser, in an interview with the Canadian Press.

"We do not want to legislate while taking into account Canadian judges. We will legislate considering the interests of Quebecers."

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In addition, PQ leader Pauline Marois has said that she'll lead with what she calls "sovereigntist governance."

A PQ government will demand that the federal government turn over its powers and all related funding on matters such as employment insurance, communications and culture, and economic regional development.

And what about a Quebec referendum on sovereignty or even separation?

In a column he wrote for the Toronto Star, columnist André Pratte says it's only a matter of time.

"Though current circumstances are not ripe for a referendum, once the [PQ] are in power, they will control the agenda," writes Pratte.

"Brilliant strategists as they are, they will try to provoke a crisis that will fuel nationalist sentiment. When regional or linguistic tensions arise, as is bound to happen in a country as complex as ours, they will use them to their advantage. And, as soon as the polls look favourable, they will hold the referendum they have been dreaming of since the 'stolen referendum' of 1995."

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Pratte, the chief editorial writer at Montreal's La Presse, adds that if the provincial Liberals are defeated on Sept. 4, Jean Charest will undoubtedly be pushed out of politics.

"Quebec federalists will lose the man who has been their best champion for two decades, with no successor on the horizon," he writes.

"A separatist government would therefore find itself more dominant then ever on the provincial scene."

It appears that almost two decades of constitutional peace are coming to an end.

Let the mayhem begin.

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