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March 16, 2018

The France-Quebec relationship: a shared ambition to change the world


By Christine St-Pierre

MNA for Acadie
Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie
Minister responsible for the Laurentides region

France and Quebec have certainly always shared a close and unique relationship, but today it takes on an even greater importance. In a global economic context in constant evolution; before challenges like the fight against climate change and against inequality, protectionism and populism; and when it comes to creating a society that cultivates and reflects our youth’s ambitions, Quebec and France find themselves now more than ever on the same wavelength.

In this shared vision, our respective governments have decided to launch into the future and to take action rather than remain passive. Whether in regards to innovation, artificial intelligence, education, gender equality, language or the Francophonie, we are the allies of social, economic and cultural progress.

Ever since the President of the French Republic and his government came into office, my colleagues and I have met with over thirteen ministers to share our concerns and our priorities. Premier Couillard’s mission to France last week was the result of constant contact between our governments in order to tackle 21st century issues. Over the course of this week, President Macron’s message to Premier Couillard was crystal clear: this relationship will go beyond all that has been said and done up until now. A “special relationship” originally fostered by De Gaulle, this connection is now strengthened by a strategic alliance, as Quebec is the undeniable entryway for France into North America. The increase of our exchanges in various sectors—thanks in particular to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, of which Quebec was one of the first instigators—will provide tremendous momentum to this collaboration between the two sides of the Atlantic.

This relationship is rooted in the modern world and embodied by the presence of a Quebec delegation in the digital and aerospace industry, and by the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s invitation to Premier Couillard to chat with almost all of the Conseil des Ministres members gathered at the interministerial meeting for International Women’s Day at the Musée Curie.

My colleagues Sébastien Proulx, Minister for Education, Recreation and Sports, and Isabelle Melançon, Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, have also discussed Quebec’s priorities with our French partners. These were productive meetings, focused on our societies’ future, that brought together the Quebec and French governments, the Délégation Générale du Québec à Paris and the Consulat Général de France à Québec.

It’s in these great diplomatic moments that we can measure the worth of a leader. Premier Philippe Couillard has a unique perspective of this relationship that he anchors in modernity, thus reinforcing the initiative that takes Quebec beyond its borders and into France. This political dedication engages the highest levels of our governments, but above all, it propels our companies, institutions, organizations and civil societies.

This desire to share will be displayed once again at the G7 in July, when the President of the French Republic will address the people of Quebec at the National Assembly, at Premier Couillard’s invitation. This is also another symbolic step, loaded with history, but turned resolutely towards the future.

Close, unique, strategic, essential—we have before us the best possible road map for the future. It’s up to us to make it a reality, for the interest of all Quebecers.

 

Christine St-Pierre
MNA for Acadie
Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie
Minister responsible for the Laurentides region