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.
Actor Richard Gere helps the Dalai Lama to the stage as he prepares to address the public in Ottawa, Saturday April 28, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)
The Dalai Lama presents a scarf to actor Richard Gere after a public address in Ottawa, Saturday April 28, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)
The Dalai Lama adjusts his cloak presents after a public address in Ottawa, Saturday April 28, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)
The Dalai Lama, who was in Ottawa on the weekend, poses for a photo with MP Maria Mourani of the separatist Bloc Quebecois. When Mourani asked him what he thought of Quebec independence, she says he responded that if a majority of Quebecers democratically voted to split, Canadians would recognize Quebec independence. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Maria Mourani)
The Dalai Lama speaks at the 6th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet in Ottawa, ON Friday April 27, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 25: His Holiness the Dalai Lama participates in a panel discussion during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall on April 25, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates ends today following three days of events. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 25: His Holiness the Dalai Lama (L) and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev participate in a panel discussion during the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall on April 25, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates ends today following three days of events. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The Dalai Lama greets the audience ahead of a public talk on 'Peace of Mind in Troubled Times' in Long Beach on April 21, 2012 in California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
The Dalai Lama gestures in response to questions at a news conference in Long Beach, California on April 20, 2012. The exiled Tibetan leader said recently in Hawaii there are hopeful signs that China will push through political reforms in China and Tibet in order to avoid another 'cultural revolution.' (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Tibetan Spiritual Leader The Dalai Lama prays to mark the first day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year of The Water Dragon 2139, at Tsuglakhang Temple in McLeodganj on February 22,2012. As urged by the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay, Tibetans in exile are not celebrating the most important date in their calendar due to the wave of self-immolations, and the subsequent deaths, in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. (LOBSANG WANGYAL/AFP/Getty Images)