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AP Interview: Quebec Premier Seeks US Investments

But the Parti Quebecois starts off with two strikes against it when it travels to the United States, said Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the Universite de Montreal.

"They are, after all, the party of the left, and there is the perception that they can't be fiscally responsible," Martin said, adding that Marois was criticized for enacting policies that were too austere during a brief stint as finance minister about 10 years ago.

"The other strike is that their raison d'etre is to make Quebec a sovereign country so they have to reassure the rest of the world this is not a statement of revolution ... that they value free trade," Martin added.

Marois took a first step towards a show of responsibility by introducing a tough budget that aims to eliminate Quebec's deficit in 2014 by imposing strict spending limits and tax increases for the wealthier citizens. Her government also has raised taxes on such non-essential goods as alcohol and tobacco.

Marois said she plans to increase mining royalties and pour the profit from those into a fund to pay down the province's debt.

"The goal is not to kill the industry. The goal is to have more returns for the population of Quebec," Marois said.

Separately, and to help sweeten the pot for investors, the PQ government is offering 10 years-worth of tax holidays to companies that invest $300 million or more in projects in Quebec.

Marois also must contend with a huge corruption scandal that exploded under the previous Liberal Party administration, led to the resignation of Montreal's mayor and revelations of graft and ties to organized crime in the construction industry.

Marois' government has since enacted laws to remove collusion and influence peddling when government contracts are awarded. Maximum political donations were set at $100.

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