QUEBEC – The Maple Leaf is staying put in one of the main rooms at Quebec’s national assembly.
An attempt by the Parti Quebecois to remove the Canadian flag failed today, with the two main opposition parties voting to defeat the minority government.
That means the flag will continue to adorn what is known as the Red Room of the legislature.
The room once housed Quebec’s now-defunct upper chamber and is still used for legislative committees and ceremonies like a cabinet swearing-in.
The flag has never stood in the legislature in either of the previous two eras that the pro-independence party held office.
This time the PQ’s intentions prompted a backlash, with the party receiving criticism in social media and the news media.
The vote came a week or so after an online poll asked respondents whether they considered different national symbols very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not important at all as sources of personal or collective pride in Canada.
The survey said that when it came to the flag, 66 per cent of Quebec respondents answered yes — with 29 per cent calling it very important and 37 per cent calling it somewhat important.
It was at the swearing-in of the new PQ cabinet several weeks ago that people noticed the flag had been removed.
The Canadian flag has had an on-again, off-again presence in the Red Room. It is the only visible spot in the building where the emblem hangs.
Marois’ government made a formal request to remove it last month, on the 36th anniversary of the election of the first PQ government in 1976.
That year, then-PQ premier Rene Levesque was the first to put the Quebec flag in the legislative chamber, the Blue Room, where the daily debates are held and votes are cast. In 1983, he put the Fleur-de-lis in the Red Room.
The Maple Leaf was eventually added to the Red Room by federalist Liberal premier Robert Bourassa when he returned to power in 1985. It was removed by successive PQ premiers before being brought back in 2003 after Jean Charest’s Liberals took power.
Neither federalist premier, Bourassa or Charest, put the Maple Leaf in the legislative chamber, fearing a backlash from nationalists.