As Quebec faces criticism within the province and throughout English-speaking Canada over their Christian-centric Charter of Values, the federal Bloc Quebecois has made it clear that they stand with their provincial-level counterparts by forcing a Member of Parliament out of the party.
Maria Mourani, former member of the federal Bloc Quebecois, has released a statement (en français) announcing that she has broken ties with the Bloc Quebecois, having elected to quit the party altogether rather than step down from her position as a caucus member. She will continue to represent her Montreal riding of Ahuntsic as an Independent until the end of her term in 2015.
Mourani is herself a Lebanese-born Catholic who wears a modest cross as part of her own religious expression. But her constituents are diverse, and she has chosen to break ties with the Quebec independence movement in order to better serve the people she represents. Mourani explains:
My family could have chosen to establish itself in France, but chose to live in Quebec, a francophone land in North America, free of the identity tensions that existed and exist still in France. The choice was especially motivated by the fact that the population here was free from those tensions. [. . .] Throughout my activism, I have seen that there exists a tension within the [Quebec] independence movement. But the leaders of this movement and the majority of activists have always succeeded in chasing away the demons of populist intolerance when it came time to develop policies. Have times changed? Has the Quebec nationalist movement sunk decades into building a way of politics that divides the people of Quebec?
That’s not an acceptable for a member of the Bloc’s caucus to hold — at least not to Daniel Paillé, the leader of the federal Bloc Quebecois, who released a statement of his own on the party website (also en français):
As we begin thinking about the Quebec Charter of Values, I wish to reiterate that the Bloc Quebecois gives full support to the Quebec government’s proposition. We subscribe to the values of French-language primacy, male-female equality, the necessity of a secular state, and formal limits on the accommodations that can be permitted. This is the Bloc’s only position.
Meanwhile the MP for Ahuntsic, Ms. Maria Mourani, has made remarks that do not reflect the position of the Bloc Quebecois. [. . .] Therefore I announce, with the approval of members of my caucus, that from now on the MP of Ahuntsic is not part of the caucus of the Bloc Quebecois and she cannot pretend to speak in the name of the Bloc Quebecois.
Mourani seems to still support the idea of Quebec nationalism, but she has raised concerns about the way the provincial and federal separatist parties are approaching the situation. She worries that voters will lose trust in the capacity of a sovereign Quebecois government to rule inclusively and impartially. “In the ethnocultural people, the link of confidence is broken,” she explained to CBC reporters.
Perhaps the most incisive comment of all comes from Quebec Liberal leader Phillippe Couillard, who accuses the Quebec independence movement of “absolutism”:
People are talking about fundamentalism these days. There seems to be another kind that is taking root within the sovereignist movement: a kind of clerical atmosphere. Madame Mourani has been excommunicated, and I suppose it will be the same thing for the next heretics.