OTTAWA - The Tibetan spiritual leader who is considered a dangerous separatist by the Chinese government in Beijing — but an honorary citizen in Canada — has apparently given his conditional blessing to Quebec independence.
The Dalai Lama was in Ottawa on the weekend, including a meeting with Stephen Harper in the prime minister's ceremonial office on Parliament Hill.
He also met with the parliamentary group Friends of Tibet, including MP Maria Mourani of the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
Without prompting, says Mourani, the 76-year-old Nobel Laureate used the Canadian example of two peaceful Quebec referendums to illustrate how Canada should push China to accept Tibet's autonomy.
"It was an opportunity for me to ask him about the independence of Quebec," she said in an interview Monday.
"And he answered, 'you know, Canada it's a democratic country so if the majority of Quebec people decide to say yes for the independence,' he's sure — he said, 'I'm sure Canada it's going to be accepted."
Mourani added that the Dalai Lama "is a very diplomatic man" so he immediately went on to praise the European Union as a model of independent states working together for a common goal while agreeing to "lose a part of their sovereignty."
The Montreal MP, who was first elected in 2006, said she took the Dalai Lama's words on the European Union model not as a path to a newly arranged Canada, but rather a different continental grouping.
"I understand the meaning of all of that is that if Quebec decides to be independent we're going to work to be united with all the countries in America, north to south," said Mourani.
The Dalai Lama has been feted by successive Canadian prime ministers, Liberal and Conservative alike, much to the annoyance of Beijing, which has harshly repressed Tibetan autonomy.
He was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006.