Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former PQ Government Believed Values Charter Was Legally Sound: Drainville

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former PQ Government Believed Values Charter Was Legally Sound: Drainville

Article excerpt

Charter project was legally sound: Drainville

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QUEBEC - The chief architect of Quebec's proposed values charter is insisting the former Parti Quebecois government had all the legal opinions necessary to push the project forward.

Bernard Drainville spoke out Tuesday amid allegations he lied to the public about the existence of legal opinions that supported the constitutionality of the charter.

Drainville broke his silence in an effort to contradict the Liberals' assertion that they found no such legal vetting of the secular charter, known as Bill 60, after they took power last month.

There have been calls in recent days for Drainville, the former minister in charge of democratic reforms, to resign his seat in the legislature for having allegedly misled Quebecers.

Instead, he fought back on Tuesday, conducting a series of media interviews.

He told The Canadian Press that while the charter as a whole wasn't subject to a formal legal opinion, jurists did provide a number of written opinions on various elements in the proposed law.

If it had come to fruition, the charter would have forbidden government employees from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Piecing together these various opinions and others, the Pauline Marois-led PQ government believed it was on the right track, Drainville said.

He added that new Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee's statement last week that there wasn't a legal document on the secular charter as a whole led people to believe he had lied to Quebecers.

"From the moment you're branded a liar, you say, 'that's enough,'" Drainville said of his decision to go public.

"I will tell the truth, there were ... we had legal opinions from the Justice Department," Drainville added. "We had numerous written opinions, which were added to the formal opinion we received from (law professor) Henri Brun on the charter project and they were added to all the opinions, analysis and legal advice I received before tabling the charter. …

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