Before premier-designate Pauline Marois was again sworn in as an MNA Monday, the Parti Québécois stripped the Canadian flag from the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
And the sovereigntist party removed the Maple Leaf that adorned outgoing premier Jean Charest’s office for the past nine years. This is not the first time a PQ government has put the flag in storage. While the move may inflame passions among Quebec federalists and across the country, this time the symbolic gesture may be a particularly hollow one.
Ms. Marois led the PQ to a minority victory earlier this month with barely a third of the popular vote. She made no mention of sovereignty in her brief swearing-in speech. Nor did her election campaign place great emphasis on sovereignty, desire for which is at historic lows among Quebeckers.
Ms. Marois, who will be sworn in as premier Wednesday, said nothing about the flag removal in her remarks after the swearing-in ceremony. “Quebeckers chose change and they chose to do it with a Parti Québécois government,” Ms. Marois said.
“One of the changes is to put an end to the politics of division. What I wish is for Quebec to get back on course and reclaim its pride and confidence. When a people reclaims its pride and confidence, nothing, absolutely nothing, becomes impossible.”
Asked to respond to the removal of the Maple Leaf by the PQ government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office responded with a blunt “no comment.”
The swearing-in ceremony has always been an awkward affair for PQ members. They must pledge allegiance to the Queen as part of the mandatory official ritual of taking office.