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The Parti Québécois is a left-wing political party which advocates the independence of Quebec, a province of the Canadian federation since 1867. The province of Quebec is home to 95% of French-Canadians. Therefore it retains a distinct culture from its anglophone neighbours. Quebec is the only jurisdiction in North-America with a French-speaking majority in it and as such is quite protective of its culture.
The P.Q. was created by the members of the ultra-moderate sovereignty-association movement of René Levesque. Its primary goals were and still are to obtain the complete political, economic and social independence for the "Nation of Quebec". In the 1976 Provincial election, the Parti Quebecois was elected to form the government of Quebec with René Levesque as its leader. This was great cause of celebration among many Quebecois, but resulted in panic and a mass-exodus among many of the province's anglophones and businesspeople.
Although ultimately hoping to get Quebec out of the Canadian federation, the PQ has accomplished quite a lot by running the provincial government.
The first PQ government was known as the "Republic of teachers" for its high number of candidates teaching at the University level. The PQ was the first government to recognize the self-determination right of the First Peoples. The PQ passed the Law on public consultations, which insures equal financing of political parties and the Charter of the French language (bill 101).
The Charter is the fundamental law making French the sole official language of Quebec while officially guaranteeing rights to the English-speaking community. The first enactment of bill 101 became controversial for its regulation of commercial signs thereby banning English-only signs because they supposedly violated the linguistic rights of the French-speaking majority. Amended with bill 86 by the Liberals, this law was modified to comply with the Supreme Court of Canada's rulings in 1988. Today, this law is perfectly legal according to the Supreme Court and it is still illegal to have English-only signs. Signs can be in any language, so long as French is predominant (in practice this means the French-language text must be significantly larger in size; officials will physically measure lettering to look for non-compliance with the law). The details of commercial signs regulations move away the attention of the public from the more important parts of the law. The law can be read online at the Quebec Government Website (http://publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=2&file=/C_11/C11_A)
The Parti Québécois has initiated two referendums to begin negotiation for independence. The 1980 referendum was huge defeat. The No side gathered 60% of the vote. The question of Quebec's status still not resolved; another referendum was initiated in 1995 and was lost by less than 1%. The Parti Québécois leader Jacques Parizeau[?] publicly blamed this loss on "money and the ethnic vote"  (http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/Quebec/2003/04/02/56438-cp).
The Parti Québécois is a social-democrat and nationalist party. All major parties in Quebec claim to be nationalist parties as they all agree that Quebec is a political nation having the right to determine its own future.
The Bloc Québécois is a Canadian Federal party with close ties to the Parti Québécois.
Leaders of the Parti Québécois:
Other Quebec Political Parties: