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Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 12:31:00 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Bloc Québécois expels MP over secular charter comments



Bloc Québécois expels MP over secular charter comments

The Bloc Québécois has expelled MP Maria Mourani from its caucus over critical comments she made about the proposed Quebec charter of values, CBC News has learned.

In an interview with Radio-Canada on Wednesday, Mourani said Quebec's charter of values was a political miscalculation on the part of Premier Pauline Marois.

Mourani was making the comments as a spokesperson of a pro-sovereignist group in favour of secularism which calls itself "les indépendantistes pour une laïcité inclusive."

Bloc Québécois Leader Daniel Paillé said Mourani's comments are "irreconcilable" with the party's position, in a written statement on Thursday.

Paillé said he expelled Mourani from the caucus after he asked the MP from Ahuntsic to step down as spokesperson of the group — something he says she refused to do.

"Quebecers have the right to expect that all federal parties will respect their right to debate … which is what the Bloc Québécois is doing, and that's why we clearly support the proposals made by the Parti Québécois," Paillé said.

On Tuesday, the Quebec government unveiled a proposed charter of values that would see public employees banned from wearing religious symbols such kippas, turbans, burkas, hijabs and "large" crosses.

The federal government has vowed to challenge the proposed charter of values if it violates the rights of Canadians.

"If it's determined that a prospective law violates the constitutional protections to freedom of religion to which all Canadians are entitled, we will defend those rights vigorously," Kenney told reporters Tuesday.

Mourani will now sit as an Independent MP in the House of Commons joining former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber and former NDP MP Bruce Hyer.

That will leave the Bloc Québécois with four MPs in Ottawa, including former NDP MP Claude Patry who crossed the floor earlier this year.

Paillé, the leader, has yet to run for a seat in the House of Commons.

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