Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for steering the highly contentious secularism charter, was in damage control mode in Quebec City this morning.
He was forced to answer questions about a position paper written in 1998 by the then-education minister Pauline Marois.
Back then, the current premier was defending the right to wear religious symbols, ecnouraging school boards to welcome diversity.
"Read the document, and you'll see that it refers to common values 20 times," Drainville said when pressed by reporters about the apparent contradiction. "It talks about equality...religious symbols does not appear in the document. I think she's perfectly coherent."
He then went on to hail Marois' courage in presenting the document.
"If we have a charter of secularism, or a charter of values, it is because Pauline Marois made a commitment to have one," he said. "It is because she made it a priority for her government. It is thanks to her courage that we have a charter in Quebec."