Ottawa will not meddle with crisis in Catalonia


Whether the next federal government is liberal or conservative, it will not interfere with the crisis that is shaking Catalonia.

Catherine Levesque
The Canadian Press

Demonstrations and scenes of violence are taking place in Barcelona and several other Catalan cities since the condemnation of the main Catalan independence leaders for their role in the secession attempt in 2017.

Asked about this during his visit to Essex, Ontario, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer offered a laconic response on Wednesday. "This is an issue for the Government of Spain," he said.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau offered a similar answer to the same question earlier this week. "It's an internal matter, Spanish, and I will not have any comments to make," he said.

Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet on Monday urged all political parties to join their voices in denouncing this "coup de force against democracy".

"I call on all political parties to speak out publicly and clearly, to denounce the political imprisonment of people who did not commit any criminal act, who did not do anything violent, whose only crime was have organized a referendum on the right to self-determination of the Catalan people, "he said.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is one of the few non-independence politicians to speak on the subject. He lamented on Tuesday the "heavy prison sentences" imposed on these "democratically elected" politicians.

There is a consensus, according to Legault

There is a consensus in Quebec on the crisis in Catalonia: we can not put in jail democratically elected people, warned on Wednesday the Prime Minister Francois Legault to the attention of the Spanish State.

The head of the Quebec government says he is not sorry to have intervened to deplore the decision of a Spanish court, which has imposed imprisonment nine recent independence Catalan leaders, in addition to condemning three others.

In a statement released on Tuesday, he said that "the Quebec government can not remain indifferent to the scale of the heavy sentences imposed on politicians elected democratically".

The Liberal Official Opposition (PLQ) then accused him of having a separatist bias and of interfering in the internal affairs of another state, that is to say, its judicial process.

"I am very surprised by the reaction of the Liberals and Paule Robitaille (the Liberal MP for international relations)," Legault said in a media scramble Wednesday after the Quebec cabinet meeting.

He added to his position, while assuring that he does not interfere in the internal affairs of Spain, since Quebec has "Spanish friends and Catalan friends".

"I think there is a consensus in Quebec. We can not put democratically elected people in prison. "

This is "worrying", he said about the sentences of 9 to 13 years that have been pronounced. "Imagine if we lived in Quebec," he continued. He said he hoped that these arbitrations would be "quiet" without putting people in jail.

As to whether he would accept that Spain is challenging a decision of the Superior Court here in Quebec, for example, he replied, "Well, yes, but to put people in jail for 9 or 13 years! "

On Wednesday again, tensions remained high in Catalonia. Demonstrations and clashes continued to protest the imprisonment of pro-independence politicians.

In 2017, at the beginning of this constitutional crisis, the former Liberal government of Philippe Couillard offered to play a mediating role between Catalonia and the central government of Madrid, in order to resolve the stalemate. Catalonia then held a referendum on independence, won by the Yes, but Madrid did not recognize the result.

Quebec and Catalonia maintain bilateral relations. The two governments signed a cooperation agreement in 1996 covering several areas, including culture and education.

In 1999, the government opened a Quebec office in Barcelona, ​​a sort of diplomatic representation. The Legault government appointed Isabelle Dessureault as Director of the Quebec Office last summer.

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