Quebec premier Pauline Marois
Credits: BENOÎT PELOSSE/
Harper called separatist premier-elect Pauline Marois Wednesday morning to congratulate her on her party winning minority government.
"The prime minister spoke of the importance for the two levels of government of working together in areas where they share common objectives, so as to respond to Quebecers' and Canadians' concerns and foster continued stability, economic growth and job creation," said Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall in an e-mail.
The left-wing PQ is committed to the break-up of Canada, though its plans for a referendum on whether Quebec should separate remain murky.
In a Tuesday night statement, the prime minister warned that Quebecers don't want to revisit "old constitutional
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae took a similar stance.
"Obviously there is no mandate for a separatist agenda in the election results," he said Wednesday.
He also thanked Quebec's soon-to-retire premier Jean Charest for his service.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair noted that Marois was the first woman elected premier of Quebec, but with only a "short minority"
"We intend to work on issues of common interest together," he said.
Provincial premiers' reactions varied.
Ontario's Dalton McGuinty congratulated Marois for her "robust campaign" and mentioned past Ontario-Quebec co-operation on the economy, education, and other issues regardless of political affiliations.
"We've worked together in the past to build a better life for people in both provinces and we will continue to do so in the future," he said in a statement.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall played a good cop-bad cop routine with Marois.
"I think it will be a chance for her around the premiers' table, I hope, to see the great benefits of confederation," said Clark.
Wall took a tougher line with the PQ.
"I think they will also get to know that the country has changed to the point where our expectations of the federal government are that they will continue to treat the provinces in an even-handed way - that there isn't special treatment for any province," he said.
Alberta's Alison Redford says her message to Quebec voters is that she's proud of bilingualism and hopes everyone can work "for the success of Canada."
Nova Scotia Premier Darrel Dexter acknowledges Marois is a separatist, but says he can still work with her.
"She has held many cabinet portfolios over time and I am given to understand that she has exercised, not only great competence, but great pragmatism," he said.
- with files from Kris Sims, Lisa Mrazek, Richard Zussman, and Edward Dawson