Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois says she is prepared to invoke the notwithstanding clause to ensure her party's controversial secular charter is adopted.
Marois says she has plans to reintroduce the values charter project as it currently stands if her party forms a majority government in next Monday's Quebec election.
Marois told a news conference today that any legal threat against the charter will be met with the notwithstanding clause.
The clause is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and allows Parliament or provinces to override the charter in order to adopt legislation.
The federal government and other parties have already said they will take whatever action is necessary to stop the charter.
In the past, Marois has said she was confident the charter would be able to withstand legal challenges, but is bringing up using the seldom-used clause for the first time.
Identity issues and language have taken centre stage a week before the vote.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said Monday it's clear to him the charter is an attempt at engineering a social crisis and that the PQ's ultimate goal is clear: a sovereignty referendum.
"It is regrettable, questionable and indefensible see how to Madame Marois and the PQ, the end justifies the means,'' Couillard said in Quebec City, describing the move as "machiavellian.''
The Liberal leader said the PQ charter is a political ploy that has nothing to do with Quebecers' identity.
"The goal was not to legislate on the so-called identity,'' Couillard said. "The goal was to create a big fight, a big division and build that in a truly machiavellian way toward a referendum.''
The PQ has pushed to move the discussion to identity and language just one week before the vote which has been dominated by talk about sovereignty and an independence referendum.
For his part, the Coalition for Quebec's Future said it wants to keep the focus on the economy in the final week of the campaign.
Coalition Leader Francois Legault noted he brought up the notion last August of using the notwithstanding clause. But he told a reporter on Monday he wasn't going to discuss the matter further. He is in favour of a modified version of the charter but said there are more important issues to discuss.
"I won't play Madame Marois's game by talking about the charter,'' Legault said in Quebec City. "I want to talk about the economy and I'm going to talk about the economy until April 7.''