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The Canadian province of Quebec introduced a bill this week that would drop the 155-year-old requirement for provincial lawmakers to swear an oath to the king of Canada, King Charles III of the UK, the Canadian Press reported.
Canada is one of the 15 Commonwealth nations, including the UK, where the British monarch is the head of state. Before they sit in Quebec’s National Assembly, lawmakers must swear two oaths: One to the Quebecois, and the other to the monarch as required by the Constitution Act of 1867.
But the royal oath has caused conflict among provincial legislators in Quebec since the beginning of a modern separatist movement more than 50 years ago, according to the Washington Post.
The latest initiative came after the October reelection of the nationalist Coalition Avenir Québec, which controls a majority of seats in the provincial parliament.
Under the new bill, Quebec’s elected officials will foreswear the oath to the British king. Specifically, it will modify a section of the Constitution Act to exempt the province from the oath.
Jean-François Roberge, the province’s minister of democratic institutions, said the bill could become law as early as next week and doesn’t expect any legal challenges.
Even so, legal analysts remain divided on whether the province can unilaterally remove the requirement or if changing that element of the constitution requires the consent of all provinces and both houses of Parliament.
A spokesperson for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not comment about whether the federal government planned to challenge the move.
While Trudeau previously said he has no plans to abolish the oath for federal lawmakers, polls in Canada show declining support for the monarchy – particularly following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.