MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) — Three lawmakers were denied access to Quebec's legislature Thursday after refusing to swear allegiance to King Charles III, Canada's head of State, as required by the Constitution.
In images broadcast live on television, Parti Quebecois elected officials Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, Pascal Berube and Joel Arseneau were denied entry by a constable guarding the closed door of the Quebec National Assembly.
Shortly afterwards, St-Pierre Plamondon, who is party leader, voiced his disappointment at a press conference.
"It's been centuries that to represent the people of Quebec, you have to go through a gesture of submission to the British crown and it's been at least decades in Quebec that we say it will change but it does not change," he said.
St-Pierre Plamondon added, however, that the issue has evolved in recent weeks.
"There is now a consensus on this issue in the chamber... It means that all the next generation of politicians will no longer have to make this humiliating gesture," the Parti Quebecois leader said.
On Thursday, all parties adopted a motion indicating their wish to abolish the oath and one of them, Quebec Solidaire, a party on the left in Quebec politics, additionally introduced a Bill to make it optional.
"I, for one, don't like to swear to The King, so we all agree to abolish the oath," Quebec Premier Francois Legault told reporters before announcing that his party, Coalition Avenir Quebec, would also introduce a Bill next week.
Under Canadian constitutional law, all elected members of Parliament at both the federal and provincial levels must swear allegiance to the British monarchy in order to take office.
At the end of October, the three Parti Quebecois MPs swore only to the people of Quebec and not to Charles III. Eleven Quebec Solidaire MPs also refused to take the oath before finally doing so.
In a poll last April, for the first time in the country's history, a small majority of Canadian citizens said they wanted to do away with royalty, whose role is now largely honorary.
This percentage reached 71 per cent in Quebec.