01/15/2015 05:17 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Quebec Premier vaunting province to Europe in hopes of attracting investors

LONDON - Premier Philippe Couillard was in London Thursday courting European investors and vaunting was he said was Quebec's attractive business environment.

Speaking in front of roughly 200 businesspeople at the Canada — United Kingdon Chambre of Commerce, Couillard boasted about his government's plans to develop Quebec's northern resources and to relaunch the maritime sector.

He rejected criticism that Quebec was in a period of austerity.

"If you compare what happened in Spain or Greece, we are nothing like that," he said, referring to the severe budget crunches in soem European government budgets. "We are not in a period of cutting back our spending."

The United Kingdon is one of Quebec's major economic partners and trading between the two equalled $4.8 billion in 2013, a 10% increase from the previous year.

Couillard talked about

London was the first stop on Couillard's 10-day European tour, which will see him visit Belgium as well as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Couillard also took some time in London to criticize his main political opponents, the separatist Parti Quebecois, without mentioning the party's name.

He said the "political orientation" of the his government doesn't necessitate him needing to constantly reassure inevstors looking to enter the Quebec market.

"Everytime there is a file that could bring up the subject of a Quebec referendum, it worries investors," he said. "It would be naive to pretend otherwise."

He also criticized last year's debate in Quebec about secularism, saying his government prefered to talk about the economy.