Queen Elizabeth comes under attack from Parti Quebecois leader during campaign stop

PQ leader Pauline Marois.In politics, this is what you call playing to your base.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois went after the Queen on Tuesday as she campaigned in the Sept. 4 provincial election.

At a campaign stop in Quebec's Gaspe region, Marois used the monarch as a symbol of the things that separate the province from the rest of Canada, especially a Canada governed by royalty-loving Conservatives.

Marois brushed off suggestions that attacking Queen Elizabeth II as she marks her 60th anniversary on the throne is impolite.

"It doesn't bother me to attack royalty," she told reporters.

"It's not because it's the Queen's Jubilee that we're going to hold our tongue," Marois said, according to the Toronto Star.

The Royal Family is an outdated institution and a waste of Canadian taxpayers' money, she said.

"It seems to me that it takes away from the institutions that we have," said Marois. "There's the lieutenant governor (Pierre Duchesne, the Queen's representative), which is a waste of money."

"His job is to sign into law legislation that he has had nothing to do with and to accept the request of the premier to have an election. I think it's a relic and we have to challenge it."

Marois also criticized the federal government for replacing paintings by famed Quebec artists Alfred Pellan and Jean-Paul Riopelle with new portraits of the Queen in public buildings.

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But apparently it's nothing personal. Marois sees the monarchy as a federal institution that's a legitimate target in the PQ's renewed push to sell sovereignty to Quebec voters.

Factions in the party have battled in the past over whether it should focus on good government or advancing the sovereignty "project."

The Canadian Press noted the PQ's crushing defeat at the hands of Premier Jean Charest's incumbent Liberals in the 2007 election is thought to have been caused by the defection of the nationalist vote to the now-defunct Action démocratique du Québec.

Marois, who favours calling a sovereignty referendum when circumstances are favourable, has said the PQ will stress the points of divergence between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

She's criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper's tougher line on youth crime and the government's destruction of the defunct gun registry database over the province's objections.

Ottawa's new infatuation with royalist symbols, such as adding the word "royal" to the armed forces' names, is just another example of how Quebec would be better served if it was a separate country, Marois believes.

"I'm willing to make a deal with the Harper government," Ms. Marois has said repeatedly in her speeches throughout the campaign, the Globe and Mail noted.

"I'm willing to make a deal with the Harper government. I'll trade him the royalty for Quebec sovereignty."

For his part, Charest brushed off Marois' lunge at the Queen.

"We're not going to get into a quarrel about the monarchy over this campaign," he said during a campaign stop in Sherbrooke, the Star said.

"I find it interesting that she would think that this is an issue during an election campaign. I think jobs are an issue, frankly. I think the economy is an issue."