AP Interview: Quebec premier seeks US investments

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 15, 2012 at 11:23 am •  Published: December 15, 2012

"The other strike is that their raison d'etre is to make Quebec a sovereign country so they have to reassure the rest of the world this is not a statement of revolution ... that they value free trade," Martin added.

Marois took a first step towards a show of responsibility by introducing a tough budget that aims to eliminate Quebec's deficit in 2014 by imposing strict spending limits and tax increases for the wealthier citizens. Her government also has raised taxes on such non-essential goods as alcohol and tobacco.

Marois said she plans to increase mining royalties and pour the profit from those into a fund to pay down the province's debt.

"The goal is not to kill the industry. The goal is to have more returns for the population of Quebec," Marois said.

Separately, and to help sweeten the pot for investors, the PQ government is offering 10 years-worth of tax holidays to companies that invest $300 million or more in projects in Quebec.

Marois also must contend with a huge corruption scandal that exploded under the previous Liberal Party administration, led to the resignation of Montreal's mayor and revelations of graft and ties to organized crime in the construction industry.

Marois' government has since enacted laws to remove collusion and influence peddling when government contracts are awarded. Maximum political donations were set at $100.

The premier's visit to New York included private visits with potential investors — she said there are companies that have decided to invest, though she said it was too soon to say which — an address to industry and state and local government representatives at the Foreign Policy Association, and a night out to see a dance performance of Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal at the contemporary ballet Joyce theater.

Her mission was over Friday evening, but she planned to spend an extra day shopping in New York and (the mere mention filled her with joy) eating a New York pretzel from one of the city's iconic food carts.