Independence: Alex Salmond turns down Quebec offer

Alex Salmond greets Quebec's Premier Pauline Marois at his office. Picture: Reuters
Alex Salmond greets Quebec's Premier Pauline Marois at his office. Picture: Reuters
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ALEX Salmond declined an offer from Quebec premier Pauline Marois to share information and documents on the two referendums that narrowly failed to give the province independence from Canada.

Despite suggestions that Ms Marois would be willing to pass on information about the votes with the SNP leader, the Quebec premier last night disclosed that Mr Salmond did not take up the offer.

Yesterday’s meeting in Edinburgh had been dubbed a “separatism summit” by some sections of the Canadian media following Ms Marois, leader of the nationalist Partis Quebecois, when she met Mr Salmond for the first time.

Mr Salmond, on the other hand, appeared to be keen to keep the meeting relatively low key. Television cameras were not allowed access to the meeting and a terse joint statement was issued afterwards.

The statement talked about economic co-operation, but on the constitutional position of Quebec and Scotland, it said: “Both leaders also talked about the political situation in their respective jurisdictions and agreed that their destinies are a matter for the people of Scotland and Quebec to decide.”

Earlier, Ms Marois had suggested that she would be happy to share data compiled in Quebec about the two referenda held in 1980 and 1995, which both saw bids by the nationalists fail to succeed in their aim to achieve sovereignty for their province.

After her meeting, Ms Marois held an impromptu press conference in the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh’s West End amid speculation that Mr Salmond was not enthusiastic about being associated with an era of Canadian political history dubbed the “neverendum”.

When asked if she would be sharing information about Quebec’s experience, Ms Marois said: “No, not at the moment. We had discussion about the issue of the referendum for Scotland and we didn’t talk about any document or information specifically.”

On Scotland’s political future, Ms Marois said she was struck by Mr Salmond’s determination to win a Yes vote.

She said: “I think the most important thing is the determination of the First Minister and his team to arrive at the support of the population on this issue.

“I think that is very clear, he will put all his team and all his determination to obtain this goal. I think that is as similar as we made in the past and we will do in the future.”