The Parti Québécois is throwing down the charter gauntlet.
Halfway through this election campaign, the party is now focussing its message on the proposed secular charter and that only a majority PQ government can deliver it.
The PQ minister in charge of the charter said talking up the issue at this point is part of the game plan. Bernard Drainville dismissed suggestions recent polls putting the Quebec Liberal party ahead had anything to do with it.
"It's the game plan and we're sticking to it," he told reporters.
Drainville held a news conference flanked by four female minority candidates who took turns discussing how the charter is positive for Quebec society and how the debate has negatively affected supporters of the proposed leigislation. Joining Drainville at the podium were Djemila Benhabib, candidate for the Mille-Îles riding in Laval, Yasmina Chouakri, running in Anjou–Louis-Riel, Leila Mahiout, candidate in Bourassa-Sauvé and Évelyne Abitbol, who is running in Acadie.
Drainville said after visiting 15 ridings outside Montreal in 15 days, Quebeckers have been telling him they want the charter and he's telling them:
"A vote for the Parti Québécois is a vote for (the charter) and a vote for the Parti Liberal is a vote against (the charter)," Drainville said.
"If we want to move ahead with the charter, if we want to adopt it, we need to have a majority government of the Parti Québécois, that's pure and simple."
Drainville said only a majority PQ government can make the proposed charter law because the other parties are against it.
"The most radical form of opposition to the charter is coming from Philippe Couillard and the Liberal Party who have said they will do everything in their power to stop the charter from being adopted," Drainville said.
"They will actually tear it apart. This is the position of Philippe Couillard, they will tear it apart."
Drainville said he visited 15 ridings in 15 days including his own in South Shore Marie-Victorin, Rivière-du-Loup and Lotbinière, but none so far in Montreal. But Drainville insisted it's not only about Montreal and that the charter will mean cohesion and harmony for all.
"There's no difference between a citizen living in Côte-des-Neiges or Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and a citizen living in Saguenay or the Gaspésie, they're all Quebeckers," Drainville said.
Drainville said Couillard doesn't even favour rules against face coverings in the civil service, as his predecessor, former premier Jean Charest did.
"On the whole issue of niqab and burqa, he's actually under, sub-Charest, that's how low he is," Drainville said.
Drainville is asking leaders of the other parties if they're willing to consent to continue with the adoption of the proposed charter so they don't have to start from scratch.