August 8, 2012
Parti Quebecois leader takes aim at monarchy
By Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA -- Despite being a devout monarchist, the prime minister refused Wednesday to defend the Queen after Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois said "it doesn't bother me at all to attack the royalty."
Marois went on to say that money spent on royal institutions is wasted and that the monarch is symbolic of the Conservative government trying to impose the Crown on Quebec's identity.
"I'm willing to make a deal with the Harper government," Marois said. "I'll trade him the royalty for Quebec sovereignty."
Environment Minister Peter Kent was the only member of Parliament to react, saying he doubts Marois' sentiments reflect those of most Canadians.
But in fact, a Harris Decima poll taken in May found 52% of Canadians support the idea of Canada separating from the monarch. In Quebec, a whopping 76% of respondents held that view, which has led some to speculate whether Marois' attacks on the Queen are an attempt to broaden her appeal beyond her separatist voter base.
Marois is competing against three other party leaders in the provincial election in September and current numbers put her support at roughly one-third of the electorate. By flogging anti-monarchy rhetoric, she may stand to lure voters who feel more strongly about the monarchy than separatism.
Robert Finch, president of the Monarchist League of Canada, was hardly surprised by the comments. But he did take issue with some of Marois' assertions.
"It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that someone who wants to break up the country would attack an institution that strives to unite it," Finch said. "As for her complaints about the cost, holding another referendum would cost far more than the monarchy does."
The Monarchist League says the monarchy costs Canadians $1.53 each annually.