Marois calls first meeting with Harper 'excellent'
Published Saturday, October 13, 2012 7:03AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 13, 2012 11:08AM EDT
It wasn’t the showdown many were expecting, when Quebec Premier Pauline Marois met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their first one-on-one Saturday.
The two met during this weekend’s summit of la Francophonie being held in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this weekend.
Marois, described as being quite positive going in and out of the meeting with Harper, referred to their 30-minute get-together as “very positive, very cordial, I’d say even almost warm.”
Following the meeting, Marois made herself available only to French reporters travelling with her.
Despite agreeing to avoid discussing domestic issues, she and the prime minister spoke about job creation, asbestos and the European Union free trade deal Harper hopes to secure by the end of 2012.
Marois and Harper also discussed promoting democracy and human rights. Future sit-downs are expected to tackle tougher issues including talks on Quebec taking control of employment insurance.
Marois told reporters that Harper was ready to hear Quebec’s point of view, and that he will respect provincial jurisdictions while also defending areas of federal authority.
Marois also added that despite political differences, she believes Ottawa and Quebec City can find mutual ground.
“I offered Mr. Harper Quebec’s entire co-operation so that Quebecers are well served,” Marois said following the meeting Saturday.
“We agreed that even though he is federalist and I am sovereigntist, that it is possible to reach agreements that respect our jurisdiction.”
During the provincial election campaign, the PQ campaigned on promises to fight the feds over jurisdiction in such areas as foreign aid and income-tax collection.
But after Marois and the PQ were elected to a slim majority, Quebec’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier announced in early October that the province would avoid an immediate battle with Ottawa.
With files from CTV News’ Daniele Hamamdjian and The Canadian Press