A paradox in recent public-opinion surveys in Quebec is, on balance, encouraging. According to polls, support for a charter of secular values has diminished from 57 per cent last month to 43 per cent, but support for the Parti Québécois government has risen by six percentage to 33 per cent.
This is not necessarily a contradiction. The public as a whole may have had some misgivings after the disclosure last week of some degree of detail on the proposed charter in the Marois government’s “orientation document,” an effect that may be heightened after the tabling of the bill in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
On the other hand, the PQ may have succeeded in getting some of their potential supporters worked up.
Nonetheless, while the PQ is the most left-leaning of the major parties in Quebec, it may be pushing some of its more radical supporters toward the decidedly left-wing Québec Solidaire, which has two seats in the National Assembly.
For example, Maria Mourani, the Bloc Québécois MP who was expelled from the BQ’s caucus last week for opposing the charter, has good relations to the QS, and may end up joining it. The Leader of the QS, Françoise David (the party prefers the title “spokesperson”), though she welcomes the debate as a necessary one, has come down against the exclusion of “ostentatious” religious garb from public-sector workplaces.
Similarly, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, arguably the most radical leader in the student demonstrations of 2012, has signed the Manifesto for an Inclusive Quebec, against the proposed charter, along with about 12,000 others so far.
Consequently, there is reason to hope that the Marois government will not be able to form a broad enough alliance in favour of the proposed charter – either in the National Assembly or a general election.