Quebec seeks to move vice-royal's quarters Cabinet minister says move would help budget

November 22, 1996|By BOSTON GLOBE

QUEBEC CITY -- Once again displaying a talent for tweaking the rest of Canada, Quebec has decided to roust the royal representative to the province from the official residence.

The separatist Parti Quebecois government announced Wednesday that the mansion that has housed the Queen Elizabeth's envoy here for decades will be put up for sale. If it can't be quickly sold, it will be rented out.

Officials conceded that the province has a legal obligation to provide living quarters for Her Majesty's lieutenant governor, who presides over ceremonies of state with much pomp but little power.

To meet that responsibility, they said, Quebec will consider leasing a "modest" apartment for the lieutenant governor, who represents the British monarchy and the Canadian nation in a province that is seeking to sever ties with both.

Cabinet Minister Jacques Brassard assured reporters that Quebec's only reason for putting the residence up for sale is to reduce government spending, and should not be considered a poke against Canada.

By coincidence, however, the move was made days after provincial Premier Lucien Bouchard demanded that Ottawa abolish the post, which he described as an "archaic colonial relic."

Elizabeth II is queen of Canada as well as Britain, and appoints a governor-general to Ottawa and a lieutenant governor to each of the 10 provinces. The royal representatives are usually Canadians with distinguished records of public service. Right now, the Quebec post is vacant. Jean-Louis Roux, 72, resigned this month in a scandal that erupted over a flirtation he had with fascism as a student in the 1940s. He never sought to conceal his past, but Quebec officials were determined to force his ouster even after Jewish groups rallied to Roux's defense.

Bouchard was infuriated by the appointment of Roux, a staunch federalist. Now Quebec is demanding that Canada either eliminate the post -- something that would violate the country's constitution -- or at least allow the Parti Quebecois to pick the next vice-royal, presumbly a dedicated separatist.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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