Laval’s Liberal MPs were split over Bloc’s ‘Quebec Nation’ motion

While El-Khoury and Robillard voted in favour, Iacono and Koutrakis abstained

In the House of Commons in Ottawa on June 16, following the tabling of a Bloc Québécois motion on the Quebec government’s Bill 96 declaring Quebec a French-speaking nation, the Laval region’s four Liberal MPs were split in how they voted.

While two voted in favour and were among the 281 MPs from all parties supporting the motion of approval for Bill 96, two other Members of Parliament from Laval were among the 29 Liberal MPs from Quebec who chose to abstain.

Curious voting pattern

Although many political analysts didn’t fully understand the rationale for the voting pattern more than a week later, electoral considerations in Quebec where there are large numbers of anglophone voters in some ridings have been suggested as the underlying reason, since voters could be heading to the polls by this fall.

The motion tabled by the Bloc Québécois, Amendment to Section 45 of the Constitution and Quebec, a French-speaking Nation, was as follows:

“That the House agree that Section 45 of the Constitution Act, 1982, grants Quebec and the provinces exclusive jurisdiction to amend their respective constitutions and acknowledge the will of Quebec to enshrine in its constitution that Quebecers form a nation, that French is the only official language of Quebec and that it is also the common language of the Quebec nation.”

What the Bloc said

If there remains any doubt as to the Bloc Québécois’s ultimate overall intentions, here are some of Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet’s own words.

“Although it has been 30 years since the Bloc Québécois was created, there are still people in the nation next door who think they need to rewrite their own laws to enshrine French, and only French, as Quebec’s official language,” he said. “This is because, 30 years later, there is still that much to be done, not to mention gaining independence.”

The Laval News invited the region’s four Liberal MPs to explain why they voted as they did or abstained from voting. By our deadline last Sunday, only Alfred-Pellan MP Angelo Iacono (who abstained) had responded.

Vimy MP Annie Koutrakis (who also abstained) did not respond to our invitation. Laval-Les Îles MP Fayçal El-Khoury and Marc-Aurèle-Fortin MP Yves Robillard (both of whom voted in favour) also did not respond.

Why Iacono abstained

Here is what Alfred-Pellan MP Angelo Iacono said about his decision. “I firmly believe that all of Canada should be bilingual,” he said.

“I firmly believe that the French language is a must in Quebec. It is a nation and all that.” Iacono said he feared that with Quebec now poised to declare itself unilingually-French, the other provinces are liable to do the same – but with the English language.

“There could be a reverse reaction,” said Iacono. “This is why I opted to abstain. Also, I had many constituents calling me up with their concerns.”