Quebec Premier Pauline Marois took her separatist message to Scotland, in an effort to assist Scotland in its quest for independence from the UK. Scottish independence leader Alex Salmond passed up on Marois' offer.
Marois offered the Scottish independence leader documents, with lessons learned from Quebec's 1995 referendum, an offer the Scottish leader declined. Marois told reporters prior to leaving for Europe that she would be glad to share advice with the Scots based on Quebec's own attempts at sovereignty. Quebec held its last referendum on independence in 1995, a referendum that was narrowly defeated with a vote of 49.42% "Yes" to 50.58% "No".
At the moment there seems to be no appetite in Quebec for a referendum, however there is no doubt that this is the ultimate aim of the first female premier in Quebec, who took office on September 12, 2012. Her first act was to remove the Canadian maple leaf flag from the chamber of the Quebec parliament.
Marois is a Quebec nationalist, who has been controversial in her attitude towards immigrants and her promotion of the French language. She introduced Bill 195, the Quebec Identity Act, which included a requirement for immigrants to learn French prior to obtaining any rights.
According to the National Post,
the meeting with Mr. Salmond the leader of the Scottish National Party was to be the highlight of Marois's European tour, but soon fizzled.
The meeting that was to be the public highlight of Ms. Marois’ week long European trip fizzled as Mr. Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), chose not to be seen in public with his fellow separatist from Quebec and declined to meet the press afterward.
“Unlike previous visits from foreign government leaders, no TV cameras were allowed to record the occasion,” the BBC noted. Instead, an official photo of the leaders was distributed.
The Globe and Mail cites two possible reasons why Mr. Salmond may have been reluctant to meet publicly with Ms. Marois. Primarily he did not want to alienate the Government of Canada and second he did not want to be associated with a leader of a party that had lost independence referendums twice, in 1980 and 1995.
Quebec will receive $7.833 billion in transfer payments from the federal government in 2013-14 to fund its elaborate social programs. It boggles the mind to see how Quebec would benefit as an independent country. For example Alberta, which has recently started a conversation over decreasing revenues receives no transfer payments at all.
If Marois thought she was going to gain some momentum for her own quest for independence, her Scotland visit was not helpful.