PQ miffed after parties strike deal ahead of National Assembly session

Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the leader of the Parti Québécois is asking supporters to donate to help the party hire staff.  (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the leader of the Parti Québécois is asking supporters to donate to help the party hire staff. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Days before the start of a new session at the National Assembly, Quebec parties have a sense of how fierce an opposition they'll each be able to mount against Legault's government, and the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ) says he and his two other elected MNAs are being shortchanged.

The four parties represented at the National Assembly have struck a deal which outlines the parameters for the resources and tools allotted to each of them, such as operating budgets and speaking time.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) scored a crushing victory in last month's provincial election, electing 90 MNAs. Despite a poor showing, the Quebec Liberal Party preserved its spot as the Official Opposition.

According to the PQ, it will be able to ask seven per cent of the questions at the National Assembly, meaning two per week. It will also have a budget of $570,000. The party wanted a budget of $800,000.

Despite agreeing to these conditions, PQ Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon accused the CAQ, the Liberals (PLQ) and Québec Solidaire (QS) of trying to marginalize his party.

"We couldn't risk losing more of our budget," St-Pierre Plamondon wrote in a lengthy statement on Facebook. "We couldn't risk potentially sacrificing the viability of the independence movement to try and go get a few more crumbs."

Although the PQ only has three MNAs, it finished with 14.6 per cent of the votes last month. That's slightly more than the Liberals' share of the vote, who wound up 21 elected members despite only racking up 14.4 per cent of the ballots cast.

QS has 11 MNAs, after receiving 15.6 per cent of the votes.

The CAQ received 41 per cent of the votes, netting it 72 per cent of the National Assembly's seats.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The distribution of seats has led to renewed calls for electoral reform, with many experts and politicians saying the system is flawed and distorted.

The terms negotiated by the parties amplify that distortion, St-Pierre Plamondon said.

"We didn't sense an appetite on their part for a true democratic recalibration," the PQ leader wrote, adding that the deal makes it nearly impossible for the party do exercise its functions. St-Pierre Plamondon is now asking supporters to donate to the party to help it hire staff.

QS is satisfied with its budget and speaking time.

According to co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, his party's 11 MNAs "will have the means to be a strong opposition to the CAQ" thanks to the terms negotiated.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, the House leader for the CAQ government, said he was satisfied with the agreement.

"Each party now has the necessary tools to work on behalf of all Quebecers," Jolin-Barrette wrote on Twitter.

PQ still hasn't sworn oath to King

As the new session looms, questions still linger about the PQ's ability to sit given its refusal to swear a mandatory oath to the King of Canada, King Charles III.

All members of the legislature are required to swear allegiance both to the King and the people of Quebec. The PQ has only done the latter.

After initially refusing as well, QS decided to swear allegiance to Canada's monarch to avoid being expelled from the National Assembly.

Many politicians have described the requirement to swear an oath to the monarch as archaic and outdated.The National Assembly will resume activities on Tuesday.