1976 PQ law prohibits current leader Marois from selling $6M home to French businessman

After years of trying, Marois thought she'd finally found a buyer for her 12,000-square-foot French-style chateau …Pity poor Pauline Marois.

After three years of trying, Quebec's premier thought she'd finally found a buyer for La Closerie, the 12,000-square-foot French-style chateau near Montreal she owns with financier husband Claude Blanchet, for a tidy $6 million.

But the fact mansion sits on a 15.5-hectare plot of agricultural land and the buyer is a French businessman has put the deal afoul of Quebec's strict law barring the sale of farmland to foreigners.

Ironically, the legislation was passed by Marois' Parti Quebecois under then premier Rene Levesque during its first term in office in the 1970s, the National Post reports.

The legislation appears to have been intended to protect domestic ownership of Quebec's small proportion of arable land, less than two per cent of the province's total area.

[ Related: Manitoba PC leader forced to defend his $2 million home ]

The property had first been listed in 2009, the Post reported and Marois and her husband accepted an offer from prospective buyer Patrice Rochemont. The sale can't be finalized until his application as a permanent resident is approved, which could take months.

The estate was seen as something of a problem in political optics for the leader of a party espousing populist and social-democratic ideals.

Canada has few obstacles to foreigners owning real estate, according to a CBC News survey of legislation last March.

The Post noted several provinces place restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural land, such as Saskatchewan's rule limiting non-Canadians to a maximum of 4.05 hectares. But Quebec is thought to be the only province barring foreign ownership without approval from the Commission for the Protection of Agricultural Land, the paper said.

If he bought Marois' mansion, Rochemond would have to live on the property for more than six months a year.

Marois has four grown children who no longer live in the house, the Post said.

"The children have moved out, so they made the decision as a family to live in [Ms. Marois' Charlevoix] riding," Pascal Monette, the PQ's communications director, told the Montreal Gazette at the time the house was listed.

CTV News reported at the time that Marois and Blanchet initially asked $8 million for the property, located on Ile Bizard.

Marois said she wanted to live closer to her constituents and planned to build a new home on waterfront property the couple own in Ste-Irenee, CTV News said.

[ Related: Little talk of sovereignty as PQ minority tries to hold on to power ]

The Post said Le Closerie was thought to be modelled on Château de Moulinsart, the country home of Captain Haddock, a character in the Tintin comic book series.

The listing information for the property called it a "very elegant French-style villa" and the surrounding property "an oasis of peace and tranquility that blends seamlessly into its natural surrounding," the Post said.

The home has eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a Jacuzzi tub, "guillotine" windows and central air-conditioning.