QUEBEC - The Quebec government is taking an initial step that could lead to the creation of its own international-aid agency that would run parallel to the Government of Canada's.
The pro-independence provincial government had raised the idea of wresting away Quebec's share of the Canadian International Development Agency budget, to create its own body, during the recent election campaign.
It's one of numerous ideas floated by the Parti Quebecois under its plan for so-called "sovereigntist governance," which aims to loosen ties to Canada.
Now the provincial government has asked a Quebec association of development groups to study what such a provincial department should look like.
The PQ government says federal aid programs have become tainted by the priorities of the federal Conservative party.
The federal government has said it wants to increasingly pair aid efforts with Canadian mining projects abroad.
"CIDA has become tightly integrated into the economic development strategy of the Canadian government," Quebec International Relations Minister Jean-Francois Lisee said in a statement Wednesday.
"The values that traditionally guided Canadian international development policy, ones which were shared by Quebec, were gradually transformed.
"The notion of international solidarity now appears more and more marginalized."
A committee, led by the Quebec Association for International Solidarity, is expected to produce a report on the project by the end of 2013.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement after Lisee's and poured cold water on the notion of Ottawa changing its policies.
''As the prime minister often says, we intend to respect the Canadian Constitution, and this is clearly an area of federal jurisdiction,'' it said.
''We don’t see any changes forthcoming to the way the federal government administers its foreign assistance programs.''
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