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PM slammed for being anti-Quebec

Jun 24 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's troubled relationship with Quebec came under increased scrutiny Saturday as the province reacted to news he had secretly met with Brian Mulroney for help on the question of national unity.

There are concerns the issue could once again return to the forefront if the sovereigntist Parti Québécois win the next provincial election, which could come as early as this fall.

The Harper government, which holds only five seats in Quebec, has a limited presence in the province.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the secret meeting with Mulroney is another sign that Harper is out of touch with Quebecers.

"Every time Mr. Harper has had an opportunity to give real meaning to the recognition that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada, he's said no," said Mulcair, who was in Hudson, Que. for a ceremony naming a park in honour of late NDP leader Jack Layton.

Harper held a secret meeting in a Montreal hotel with the former prime minister earlier this month for advice on how to build a better relationship with Quebec. He sought similar advice that same day from Liberal Premier Jean Charest, government sources said.

The Quebec Liberals, though, are in trouble themselves. A recent provincial by-election in Quebec saw the Parti Québécois win a riding that's been held by the Liberals for 46 years.

PQ Leader Pauline Marois said Harper is right to be concerned, and labelled the Harper government "anti-Quebec." But she added that Harper was right to reach out to Mulroney, who she said understood Quebec.

Harper will be in Quebec today for a Conservative rally aimed at reviving the party's floundering fortunes in the province.

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