Working in concert will strengthen Québec and give it greater impact on the international stage

Monique Gagnon-Tremblay

Québec City, May 24, 2006 ─ Québec's Minister of International Relations, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, released the government's new International Policy today. Subtitled “Working in Concert,” the new policy marks a major shift in the government's international approach.

In light of global changes and the need for nations, states and regions to work together to find lasting solutions, the Minister emphasized that the government will be able to defend its positions and interests more effectively on the international stage by rallying additional partners to its cause. Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay outlined five steps that the government will be taking to achieve this goal.

A joint action plan will be developed for Québec government departments and agencies, allocating efforts and resources to support a number of shared goals and priorities. The action plan accompanying the new International Policy is in line with this strategy.

The government will also work more closely with civic groups and organizations, primarily municipalities and universities that already play an active international role.
A new and stronger partnership will be forged with the federal government. This goal reflects the belief that Canada's international activities will be strengthened and will have greater impact if Québec's voice, expertise and specificity are used to good advantage. In turn, Québec's own activities will be enhanced thanks to the federal government's support.

Our bilateral partners will be asked to take part in these activities. Alliances will be forged on matters of common interest, in line with cultural diversity initiatives undertaken with France and other members of La Francophonie.

The Government of Québec will also work with other political jurisdictions to implement a range of initiatives and to find concrete solutions in areas where action is needed.

Five key goals

Québec's new International Policy is structured around five key goals:

  • Expanding Québec's scope of action and sphere of influence

  • Fostering growth and prosperity throughout Québec

  • Enhancing security measures across Québec and North America

  • Promoting Québec's unique identity and culture

  • Contributing to international solidarity efforts

To achieve these goals, the action plan will focus on ten priority areas, including some 70 measures and initiatives that will be implemented by various departments and agencies over the next three years. This is the first time that the Government of Québec has developed a joint action plan setting out a comprehensive international vision, together with a limited number of shared goals and priorities.

Additional credits totalling $20 million over three years have been allocated to implement the action plan. These new credits are in addition to the $350 million in annual expenditures by government departments on international initiatives. In particular, these funds will support the following initiatives:

  • Expanding Québec's role within international organizations, particularly UNESCO

  • Reorganizing the network of Québec offices and delegations abroad in accordance with new international priorities

  • Forging links with other political jurisdictions

  • Boosting Québec's exports to the U.S. and Europe

  • Expanding Québec's role and activities in key growth markets such as Mexico, Japan, China, India and Brazil

  • Enhancing Québec's research and innovation capacity by fostering international partnerships and attracting world-class researchers

  • Reinforcing efforts to promote Québec's universities abroad

  • Taking steps to address new security issues

  • Significantly increasing the number of companies taking part in the Smart Border program

  • Ensuring the French language's role in the development of new information technologies

  • Developing organizational/planning skills and tools with a view to distributing Québec's products and cultural exports more effectively

  • Contributing to international solidarity efforts

Strategic reorganization of Québec's offices and delegations abroad

Québec has a network of nearly 30 offices in 18 countries. This network will be modified in accordance with new international priorities.

In the context of strong growth in the U.S. South and West, the status of Québec's office in Atlanta will be upgraded. Additional resources will be allocated to Québec's offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. with a view to capitalizing on business opportunities with neighbouring states and major international financial institutions in the U.S. capital region.

Links will be forged with Brazil in recognition of that country's political weight within the Mercosur trade group, its influence within international organizations and its vast economic potential. To this end, the Québec government plans to open an office in Sao Paulo.

In light of the European Union's expansion and key economic role, Québec will be expanding its presence In Europe. Québec's office in Munich will be upgraded to Government House status and its staff and that of the Berlin sub-office will be expanded. Additional personnel will be assigned to the Rome office to support growing commercial and cultural exchanges between Québec and Italy. Given Italy's central location in the Mediterranean basin, the Rome office will be assigned responsibility for forging trade links with other countries in the region.

Québec has had an official presence in Japan for over 30 years. Consistent with that country's key role in trade dynamics across Asia, the economic division of Québec Government House in Tokyo will be consolidated. Moreover, given China's and India's strong growth prospects and their economic impact on Québec companies, Québec will boost its economic staff in Beijing and Shanghai and will open an office in Mumbai.

Expanded role within international forums

Québec's new International Policy reflects the government's desire to take on an expanded role within international forums. “Québec's ability to make collective choices and to enact legislation and regulations is shaped by changing international standards that are decided elsewhere. The government can either sit back and accept these changes or actively seek to influence the course of events, consistent with its interests and the values of Québec society. Québec has decided to take the path of active involvement,” said the Minister of International Relations. She added: “To achieve this goal, Québec must participate fully in the networks in which international standards are created. It must also gain access to key political and economic decision makers and use all means available to exert its influence.”

Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay also noted that Québec signed a historic agreement with the federal government on May 5 setting out Québec's role within UNESCO. According to the Minister, this agreement has created a new dynamic in the field of international relations. Moreover, the Government of Québec advocates the implementation of a formal framework to enable any province wishing to do so to participate in other international organizations and forums whenever areas of provincial jurisdiction are on the agenda.

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