A Federal/Provincial International Affairs Partnership is a necessity - Monique Gagnon-Tremblay

Québec City, May 19, 2005 ─ Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, today proposed an international affairs partnership with the federal government before the members of the Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal.

According to Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay, it is in Canada's best interest to acknowledge the role of the provinces on the international stage. The partnership she is proposing will reflect the true federal nature of Canada, will make Canada's international actions much more effective and, from the get go, will strengthen Canada's image abroad. “This would put a stop to the weakening of Canada's image and influence in the world, which was acknowledged by the federal government itself in its recent International Policy Statement,” said the Minister.

Pointing to Québec's participation in international forums dealing with provincial matters, the Minister of International Relations proposed a partnership that would ensure that Québec would have:

1. The status of full member in Canadian delegations and exclusive responsibility for the naming of its representatives;

2. Access to all information and pre-negotiation participation in drafting the Canadian position;

3. The right to speak on its own behalf at international forums;

4. The recognition of its right to give its approval before Canada signs or declares itself bound by a treaty or agreement;

5. The inclusion of its follow-up reports in the Canadian reports.

The right to present its positions during appearances by Canada before the monitoring bodies of international organizations when its positions are challenged or its interests are involved.

In the specific case of UNESCO, the Minister of International Relations requested that the mandate of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO be modified to give Québec the right to consult civil society on its own.

Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay also proposed a partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency to enable developing countries, especially those of the Francophonie, to benefit more from Québec's expertise.

She also said that she hoped to see the creation of a department-level Canada/Québec cooperation mechanism on international issues.

The Minister pointed to the meeting of minds between Québec and Ottawa on the main thrusts of Canada's International Policy Statement: the importance of a North American partnership, the interlink between security and prosperity, the strengthening of trade with Europe and emerging countries, the need to target international aid, and the call for a more humane globalization.

The Québec government's new international affairs policy will be tabled in the coming months.

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