PQ premier meets president of Mexico, doesn't raise Quebec independence

MEXICO, Mexico – Quebec’s pro-independence premier did not raise the sovereignty issue when she met with the president of Mexico on Thursday.

Premier Pauline Marois said she discussed federal-provincial roles during her 45-minute meeting with Enrique Pena Nieto, but did not promote her Parti Quebecois’ independence project.

The Mexico City meeting took place in front of two flags at the presidential palace: that of Mexico, and the Maple Leaf.

“I did not talk about sovereignty,” Marois told reporters later.

“But I did indicate to the president that Quebec obviously has its own jurisdictions and that I hoped to continue acting on those fronts.”

She said she is a sovereigntist and a premier at the same time and “you can’t dissociate me from one or the other.” But she said it was the premier of Quebec that the president wanted to meet. Marois had requested the encounter.

Canada’s ambassador to Mexico, Sara Hradecky, was present as is the custom when a provincial representative meets a foreign head of state.

Marois did not complain, however, about being shadowed by a federal representative.

She said Hradecky stayed in the background during that meeting, as well as one earlier in the day with Mexican foreign minister Jose Antonio Meade.

“We never expressed any opposition to the ambassador being there,” Marois said.

“She remained very discreet so I was able to have an exchange, without hindrance or constraints, with the president as I was with the secretary of foreign affairs.”

Such encounters have caused federal-provincial-international tension in the past.

The last elected PQ premier, Lucien Bouchard, pressed for and ultimately received a private meeting in 1999 with then-U.S. president Bill Clinton.