|PARIS — Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest have taken French presidential candidate Segolene Royal to task for saying she sympathizes with the idea of Quebec sovereignty. |
The Socialist hopeful was asked about her thoughts on Quebec’s national question after a short meeting with Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair in Paris on Monday.
Royal, who has never visited Quebec, said the province and France have common values, including “sovereignty and Quebec’s freedom.”
Harper issued a statement in which he questioned the wisdom of Royal weighing in on a Canadian debate.
“Experience teaches that it is highly inappropriate for a foreign leader to interfere in the democratic affairs of another country,” he said.
“We look forward to marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Canada at Quebec City with the next president of France.
“We expect in turn that the next president will display an understanding of our shared history, and the respect for Canada and Canadians that such an important partnership requires.”
Speaking in Montreal, Charest said he invited Royal to Quebec after she became head of the French Socialists but that she turned him down.
“And furthermore, what I also know is that the future of Quebec will be decided by Quebecers, no one else.”
Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, who was visiting Quebec City, said Royal’s comments hurt her credibility.
“She does not understand,” he said. “You do not interfere in the affairs of a friendly country, you do not wish for the dismantling of a friendly country. Canada does not wish for the dismantling of France and France certainly does not wish for the dismantling of Canada.”
Boisclair said Royal’s comments show she’s sympathetic to sovereignty and understands his message.
“I think Quebecers will interpret Mrs. Royal’s remarks for themselves,” he said. “It would be improper of me to do so but what people have seen is that France, in all circumstances, will be at Quebec’s side.”
I would like to point out that France did throw a major tantrum when America sided with Turkey being let in the EU.