Mourani quits Bloc but vows to stay on as MP
Published Friday, September 13, 2013 11:25AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 13, 2013 11:18PM EDT
The Bloc Quebecois MP who was expelled from her caucus for questioning Quebec’s proposed charter of values has decided to quit the party and stay on as an independent.
“To me, this is a shock to be treated like this,” Maria Mourani said during a news conference on Friday.
She is now wondering whether she has a place in Quebec’s sovereignity movement at all.
“If there’s a (strategy) behind all this, to me, it’s not a good one,” she said. “To me, for years, the independence movement has been trying to include (everyone)”
“Is that time over and done with now? The nationalist movement in Quebec?”
Earlier this week, Mourani warned that Quebec’s proposed charter of values – which would forbid civil servants from wearing visible religious clothing and symbols at work – undermines hard-fought efforts to legitimize the separatist movement.
The policy will only divide Quebec, she reiterated on Friday, adding that people could even lose their jobs.
“I cannot subscribe to such a policy,” she said. “People are afraid, people feel excluded.”
She said the charter is even hurting Quebec’s reputation across Canada and around the world.
“(Quebecors are) being described … as xenophobic, racist,” she said. “We’re being very poorly perceived.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Bloc Leader Daniel Paille announced Mourani’s departure from the party's caucus, saying her views “do not reflect the position of the Bloc Quebecois."
"The Quebec Charter of Values, far from being, as stated by Ms. Mourani an electoral process, a grave strategic error of the sovereigntist movement, or worse, a manifestation of ethnic nationalism is, however, a necessary and fundamental approach to the Quebec nation," Paille said.
Politicians of different stripes came to Mourani's defence Thursday.
Francoise David, a member of the legislature for Quebec solidaire, a left-wing sovereigntist party, accused the Bloc of silencing voices of dissent.
"It's as though they're saying, 'There's a dissident voice, a voice that is issuing some warnings against certain aspects of the charter and there's a sovereigntist party that wants to silence this voice'," David said.
"It sends the wrong message...and it shouldn't happen like that."
Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard accused sovereigntists of extreme rigidity and "absolutism."
"People are talking about fundamentalism these days," he said. "There seems to be another kind that is taking root within the sovereigntist movement. A kind of clerical atmosphere.
"Mme Mourani has been excommunicated and I suppose it will be the same thing for the next heretics."
Bernard Drainville, the Quebec cabinet minister spearheading the values charter, said sovereigntists have every right to disagree with his plan.
"This is their right," Drainville said. "We should accept dissidents, we should accept people who disagree, we should accept all opinions."
With Mourani’s exit, the Bloc’s number of seats in the House of Commons drops from five to four.
With files from CTV Montreal and The Canadian Press
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