Philippe Couillard says he’s in no rush to discuss Quebec’s place in Canada, less than 24 hours after promising a series of meetings with federal and provincial leaders to push for Quebec's recognition as a distinct society if elected premier on April 7.
On Saturday, Couillard specified that he would meet with other provincial leaders to discuss economic issues above all, saying there's no urgent need to discuss constitutional matters.
"Are we unhappy right now in Quebec? Are we facing a crisis? Are our freedoms threatened? No, Quebec’s doing well. I’m saying that once discussions around the Constitution open up at the request of the rest of the country, around the issue of the Senate, for example, I’ll be there to defend Quebec’s historic demands. That’s my job,” he said on the campaign trail on Saturday.
Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois said Couillard would have to take any questions about the Constitution to Quebecers before discussing them with federal, provincial and territorial counterparts.
"No premier, whether they were federalist and sovereignist, has agreed to sign the Constitution," she said. "Mr. Couillard is taking a dangerous road."
The status of distinct society for Quebec has proven troublesome for Canada's political leaders in the past.
Pro-independence forces have repeatedly cited the absence of Quebec's signature on the 1982 Constitution as an example that federalism is a failure.
In the 1980s and 1990s, then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney failed to get Quebec included in the Constitution.
Couillard insisted Saturday that he would rather leave a legacy of jobs than a new round of Constitutional talks.
"If you asked me what I would rather achieve after four years as premier, between 250,000 jobs or talking about the Constitution, I would pick 250,000 jobs," he said.