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Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois walks from her campaign bus during a campaign stop in Murdochville Que., on Tuesday, August 7, 2012.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Queen may be celebrating the 60th year of her reign, but that isn't going to make Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois any more polite towards Her Majesty.

With the Quebec election campaign in full swing, the royal family has become for the PQ a symbol of the federal Conservative government's efforts to impose the Crown on Quebec as part of its identity, an initiative decried by sovereigntists.

"It doesn't bother me at all to attack the royalty," Ms. Marois said. "It creates institutions like that of the lieutenant-governor, which is useless. This money that is being spent uselessly. …These are outdated institutions that need to be called into question."

Ms. Marois took exception to the Harper government's decision to replace paintings of internationally acclaimed Quebec artists such as Alfred Pellan and Jean-Paul Riopelle in government buildings with portraits of the Queen. In all of her speeches, Ms. Marois says Mr. Harper has attempted to impose values on Quebeckers that most don't embrace. These include a tough new law on young offenders, pouring money into building new prisons rather than daycare spaces and buying military planes and ships.

Attacking the Queen helps Ms. Marois contend that Ottawa is out of touch is with Quebec, a province where royalty has generally been shunned, and that the province would be best served by a pro-sovereignty government.

"I'm willing to make a deal with the Harper government," Ms. Marois has said repeatedly in her speeches throughout the campaign. "I'll trade him the royalty for Quebec sovereignty."

Ms. Marois has made Quebec identity a key campaign issue, accusing Liberal Leader Jean Charest of failing to promote and protect the French language and doing little to fight the intrusion of English in the daily lives of Quebeckers, especially in Montreal. She has also accused Mr. Charest of doing nothing to protect Quebec from several Harper government policies that threaten to weaken Quebec.

The attacks on royalty were just the latest means used by the PQ to paint Mr. Charest and Mr. Harper with the same brush, a strategy aimed at striking a nationalist chord to bring back those who have abandoned the PQ in recent years.

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