QUEBEC – Quebec’s premier says she has no intention of interfering in the internal politics of the United Kingdom when she meets Scotland’s separatist leader next week.
Pauline Marois says she wants to build good relations with all nations — whether or not they’re planning to hold a referendum.
She will meet with Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, during a stop in Edinburgh on Jan. 29.
Marois says she knows the pro-independence Scottish National Party has observed her Parti Quebecois with interest and she’s ready to answer any questions Salmond might have.
“I will obviously not interfere in their politics or decisions,” Marois told a news conference.
“But you know they have observed Quebec quite a bit, and our experiences. Mr. Salmond will surely have some questions to ask me.”
Unlike the Scottish nationalists, the PQ has already held two referendums in failed attempts at independence over the years but currently has no timetable for a third such vote.
The SNP, on the other hand, is now planning to hold its first such referendum after being elected with a majority government for the first time since the creation of the modern Scottish parliament.
Although the PQ and the SNP have forged ties over the years, it will be the first time their respective leaders meet while in power.
Their movements do share a familiar obstacle: less-than-favourable polls.
Surveys peg support for Scottish independence at levels that suggest it might be hard to achieve when the referendum takes place in the fall of 2014.
Marois’ office, in announcing the meeting, has said it would be an opportunity to underscore the parallels between the respective independence movements.
Scotland has many powers, including jurisdiction over education, health, law and local government. But there are several areas — including economic policy — where it is dependent on decisions made in London.
Many Scots have long contended that revenues from North Sea oil should stay in Scotland, a situation they say would increase wealth in the country of slightly more than five million people.
In Quebec City, the opposition Liberals criticized Marois’ upcoming visit, saying she should focus on economic issues instead of building nationalist alliances.