Premier Pauline Marois was the keynote speaker at the Conseil du patronat's annual meeting yesterday.

In her speech Marois took a few predictable shots at the federal government, talked about how well the Montreal economy is doing, and explained how hard it is to make the tough decisions which will produce a balanced budget for Quebec. 

Marois says she's not blaming people who complain about her budget cuts.

But then she told the business leaders how disappointed she is that they are not embracing her approach. 

No one in the audience reacted. What the business community wants to hear from Marois is that her new mining rights and royalties legislation won't kill an economic sector which is already facing global challenges.

They also want to know if Marois will honour her government's commitment to balance the budget by 2014.

The 2014 deadline doesn't seem to be as firm as it was a few months ago. That's the next big issue Marois has to tackle: Stay on target and risk hurting the economy by imposing more unpopular cuts, or delay zero deficit and lose credibility in the financial world.

Back to the Future

By the way, watching the new Parti Quebecois ads claiming that sovereignty would be very profitable for Quebec took me back to the 1970's. It reminded me of a commercial anglophone reporters at the national assembly concocted one afternoon when the PQ first came to power.

The idea was to come up with a message that would get Quebec anglos to vote yes in a sovereignty referendum. We, obviously, didn't have enough to do that afternoon.

To the tune of Happy Days are Here, Again the ad went something like this:

Never pay federal taxes again! 

If you are an anglophone living on the West Island of Montreal, studies by the Cultural Development Ministry prove conclusively that you are part of the dominant minority.  

It's in your interest to pay less taxes. 

Take the Caribbean vacation you always wanted to!

Spend the summer in Europe!  

Vote Yes in next month's referendum and be out of Confederation before the next tax deadline!