It is not necessary to wait for the dust to settle on the Parti Quebecois's proposed values charter to know that it is the sovereigntist party's riskiest gamble.
The plan has deeply divided the pro-independence movement. It clearly offends the core values of a significant and articulate segment of the party's base. It has scores of long-time sovereigntist activists wringing their hands in despair over potentially irreparable damage to their cause.
Regardless of the short-term political outcome of the operation, the PQ that will emerge from this identity-related venture will be a fragmented version of the one that entered it. It will be hard to put the pieces back together for another referendum bid.
Perhaps most remarkable is that all of the above was highly predictable. This is an adventure that Pauline Marois's government embarked on with its eyes wide open.
It is also a can of worms that none of the premier's predecessors would have touched with a 10-foot pole. What could have led her to open it? Here are three takes on Marois's decision to roll the dice.
The calculating politician Marois is has spent more time than average in the pursuit of the role that is now hers.
She first bid for the PQ leadership in the 1980s and the quest for power had been a defining feature of her career ever since.
She may have become more interested in the short game of winning an election than in the long game of achieving Quebec sovereignty.
She certainly did not work so hard to get to the top only to be pushed out by voters or her party at the first opportunity.
Bottom line: The charter is the last best card in the deck of a politician who is ready to go for broke to hang on to power.
The weak leader
Over the opening round of the debate, Quebecers and other Canadians have seen a lot of Bernard Drainville - the lead minister on the file - and comparatively little of Marois.
His PQ colleagues may be cheering him on but they seem to be doing it from a safe distance.
In a day and age when a government's commitment to a major policy is measured by the public engagement of its leader, Marois seems to be positioned to potentially lead a strategic retreat rather than to be the leading figure in a make-or-break public opinion battle.
It is a convenient coincidence that Drainville, whose career now hangs in the balance of the charter, happens to be a minister who is often touted as a top candidate to challenge the premier's leadership.
A woman of strong convictions
Those who know Marois say that it is her personal conviction that the space that religious minorities take up in the province's public arena - if it is not circumscribed - will pose a long-term threat to Quebec identity.
The charter, they add, is the mark of a woman who will go to the wall to fulfil her election promises. Except that since her election Marois has failed to go to the said wall for a fair number of other ultimately less divisive commitments.
Moreover, the premier's contributions to the debate so far - starting with the clumsy suggestion that multiculturalism is at the root cause of domestic terrorism in the United Kingdom, and the ill-informed assertion that France's rigid secular system is a great model - suggest that her views on a diverse society may be shaped by impressions rather than evidence-based knowledge.
For the record, that view - as it is put forward - is strikingly less cosmopolitan than those of better-travelled predecessors such as Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard.
At the end of the day, the motivations that drove Marois to lead the PQ across a Rubicon that distances it from the civic nationalism that it has always promoted in the past probably involves a mix of calculation, conviction and wilful ignorance.
But the combination, under any of its variations, does not add up to a compelling portrait.
Chantal Hebert is a national affairs writer. Her column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.