The former PQ minister responsible for the secular charter joined CBC's Daybreak in studio to chat about secularism, Quebec independence and diversity.
1. Ainslie MacLellan (guest host):The PQ lost the last election after a campaign that was fought largely on the charter of values. You were the architect of that ...
Bernard Drainville: I am? I would disagree with your premise. I think the idea of a secular state and the whole debate around it was a very important theme in the public debate before the election, but ... we lost the election on our lack of clarity with regards to the referendum. Next time around ... we’re going to have to answer the question — is there going to be a referendum or not?.
2. AM: Would you present the charter again in the same way, given what happened in the election?
BD: No. I think there’s a way to introduce this idea of a neutral secular state in a more consensual fashion. I think what we need to stick to are the principles — strengthening equality between men and women, having this neutral state that respects everyone, having a framework of rules to deal with religious accommodations. Whatever our origin, our sexual orientation, the colour of our skin, our mother tongue — doesn’t matter. We’re all equal. We’re all citizens of Quebec.
3. AM: Are you sensing that there has been a damage done to you by being the person that has been associated with that charter, and being seen as someone who is intolerant to diversity?
BD: Some people tried to portray me as a man who is opposed to diversity … and it goes opposite to everything I’ve done. I have three kids, one of them I adopted. My third child one day asked me — Dad, I’m Korean, right? And I said — your sister and your brother are Quebecers of French origins, and you are a Quebecer of Korean origin, and we’re all Quebecers around the table.
4. AM: How do you know when it’s the right time to call a referendum?
BD: When you’re prepared. When you have a sufficient level of support. We need to centre this whole discussion on independence on the tangible benefits for the citizen. A lot of citizens of Quebec have doubts … because they don’t see the point. They don’t see what it’s going to change positively in their lives. If the current level of support does not increase, I don’t think there should be a referendum in the first mandate.
5. AM: You've officially joined the race for PQ leader and a lot of people are calling Pierre Karl Péladeau a favourite. How do you overcome his popularity?
BD: By putting forward my ideas. I'm not going to attack the other people who are running. I think people are sick and tired of attack politics, of negative politics. I want the Parti Québécois to be a stronger party at the end of this race.