In its battle against the Maple Leaf, PQ may be headed for defeat

Associated Press

QUEBEC - An attempt to remove the Canadian flag from the Quebec legislature appears poised for defeat.

The assembly has settled on a parliamentary vote to deal with an unprecedented situation — one of a minority Parti Quebecois government trying to have the flag removed.

And the PQ may not have the numbers.

The pro-Canadian official Opposition, the Liberals, will vote against the request. And it appears that the constitutionally neutral Coalition party is also lined up against the government.

Coalition Leader Francois Legault says that, because his party an alliance of federalists and separatists, it favours the status quo and will vote against the PQ request.

Those two parties combined have 69 seats. They need 63 votes to have a majority in the legislature and win next week's vote.

The Maple Leaf has, in the past, only had a place in the legislature building when the Liberals were in power. It was added to the committee chamber by Robert Bourassa's Liberals in the 1980s and '90s, and again by Jean Charest's government in 2003.

As it has in the past, the PQ moved to take it down after it won the Sept. 4 election. But the move prompted a rare backlash and, with only a minority status, the PQ was forced to hold a vote to decide the issue.

The vote is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to wade into the dispute when asked about it last week during a trip to Quebec City.

"What can I say?'' Harper replied, drawing chuckles from an audience.

"What I can say is our priority, for the people of Quebec and for the rest of Canada, is the economy. I think that's the real priority of Quebecers — not old quarrels. I have no intention of participating in those old debates.''

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