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Pauline Marois: The Sarah Palin of French Quebec?

09/17/2013 07:51 EDT | Updated 11/17/2013 05:12 EST

When Quebec Premier Pauline Marois launched her Charter of Quebec Values last week, she fully expected that there would be adverse reaction from Liberal Leader Trudeau, NDP Leader Mulcair and from the federal Conservatives.

In fact she counted on exploiting negative feedback in persuading French Quebec that the rest of English Canada was unwilling to support Quebec's national identity as a secular French state. And that Quebec independence was Quebec's only real option to realize and preserve its true and unique identity.

What Marois and her band of provocateurs did not contemplate, was harsh and stinging criticism from French Quebec sovereigntists, in her own backyard, to her nefarious proposal.

The most devastating criticism of Marois' proposed Charter of Quebec Values, came from then Bloc MP Maria Mourani, the only elected female Bloc member, the only Bloc member representing a Montreal federal riding. And one of the most prominent ethnic members of the Quebec sovereigntist movement.

In the past, I have not been very sympathetic to Bloc Quebecois members. The raison d'etre of the Bloc is Quebec independence from Canada. Which the Bloc hoped to achieve by paradoxically becoming elected federal members of the Canadian Parliament. The very same Parliament, the Bloc wished to destroy by causing the break-up of Canada, and the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada.

However, the case of former Bloc member Maria Mourani is unique and different and worthy of some empathy, even from this unrepentant and staunch Canadian federalist.

Apparently, according to Ms. Mourani, she and her family, originally from Lebanon, chose Quebec over France, because of Quebec's alleged greater tolerance of minorities. Mourani astutely argued that the fact that Marois was using France's own secularism model as a model for Quebec's Charter of Values, would be a disaster for Quebec because France had a terrible record of integrating immigrants into French society.

In a CBC radio report, Mourani, claimed that upon arrival in Quebec, she truly wanted to integrate into Quebec society, so she joined the Quebec sovereigntist movement. She then spent many years as an active volunteer in the provincial Parti Quebecois and the federal Bloc Quebecois. And then as an elected member of the BQ, promoting the fact that the Quebec independence movement was open to and inclusive of immigrants.

However, Mourani, in a recent interview at her Ahuntsic home riding office, articulately attacked the proposed Charter of Quebec Values as a calculated election-driven strategy for votes at the expense of the defense of basic human rights.

Mourani further argued that all the previous efforts of the PQ and the Bloc to woo immigrants, and her own efforts over many years, to the sovereigntist cause, have been destroyed by the publication of this Charter of Quebec Values.

Mourani further admitted that Marois for short term electoral advantage, was clearly appealing to the ethnic nationalists of the French Quebec population. A taboo topic in PQ and BQ circles, which clearly implies that the Quebec independence movement is at its core, an appeal to intolerance, xenophobia, and racism.

That is, to the French Quebec suburban/rural/public union vote, where there are few visible minorities, and the fear and ignorance of the "Other", are most pronounced.

Mourani also questioned how Marois hoped to leverage this Charter into widespread support for Quebec independence, when it was very clear that many Montreal-based sovereigntists, ( ie students, intellectuals, professionals, workers and activists) were strongly opposed to this Proposed Charter.

Note, because of Mourani's heartfelt and public criticism of the proposed Charter, Daniel Paille, the Bloc leader, apparently influenced by Marois and her Party executive, kicked Mourani out of the Bloc caucus, whereupon, Mourani quit the Bloc party.

Interestingly, much to Marois' chagrin, the cause of Mourani has been taken up by such leading Quebec sovereigntists as former PQ leader Bernard Landry, a personal friend, and Lise Lapointe, the wife of former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau and even the great Parizeau himself.

I predict Marois' internal conflicts with her own Montreal PQ members and separatists will further undermine support for her own party, her own government, her ill-conceived Charter of Quebec Values and will further divide the Quebec independence movement.

Last Friday, sovereignty activist Jocelyn Desjardins announced the launch of a citizen petition denouncing the expulsion of Mourani.

By 6 p.m., the petition had been signed by 100 people -- many of them high profile members of the movement.

Marois' Charter is thus influencing public opinion in Quebec and outside of Quebec, that the PQ's base is in fact, rural, redneck and racist French Quebec Tea Party types, backed by a French Quebec civil service of Kippa Kops and Turban Troopers.

And the much maligned Marois is fast becoming the Sarah Palin of French Quebec.

Quebec Values Charter