Quebec and Ontario are instrumental in Canada’s economy. Together, our two provinces represent close to 63% of Canada’s population and we are the source of 57% of Canada’s GDP.
Last November 21st, Quebec and Ontario held a joint council ministerial meeting. Closer ties between the two provinces allowed for agreements which show the pertinence and the interest for Quebec to carry out active diplomacy with its partners, for the provinces within the Canadian Federation.
Every year, exportations from Quebec to Ontario amount to $38 billion dollars. This is more than all the other provinces combined together. To enhance our exchanges even more and to make domestic trade easier, the two provinces agreed to harmonize the rules for internal trade with those of the Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) by April 30, 2015.
They are also going to explore other possibilities concerning other joint business missions in their industrial sectors of common interest. As for tourism, they will make a team in their approaches for international commercialization, which will also include joint promotion in China and France. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the “Société des alcools du Québec” (SAQ) will also facilitate the commercialization and sale of liquor products that are produced locally in each province.
When it comes to energy, the two provinces have accepted to exchange 500 megawatts of electricity when each one of us needs it the most; that is to say winter in Quebec and during the summer in Ontario. The provinces will be studying the possibility of increasing the trade of electricity on a long-term basis.
Quebec and Ontario have adopted a joint approach (common approach) concerning the Energy East Pipeline Project. The two provinces share the same principles based on environmental safety and economic return.
Both provinces have decided to make efforts together to fight against environmental effects and the current economic costs of climate change. They have agreed to examine the use of market mechanisms in Ontario such as those that were implemented in Quebec and California to reduce the effects of greenhouse gases. They have also agreed to harmonize the way data is gathered on the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Finally, approaching the 400th anniversary of the French presence in Ontario and the 150th of our federation in 2017, the two provinces have signed an historical joint declaration, which recognizes Francophonie as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian identity.
Agreeing to work together to ensure continuity, promotion and vitality of culture as well as Francophone heritage, Quebec and Ontario asked the federal government to provide support to Radio Canada in a way that will allow to supply quality radio and television services in French across Canada including Quebec. The provinces also urged the Government to act rapidly concerning Francophone immigration to maintain the proportion of French speakers across Canada.
Beyond these agreements, this forward-looking perspective allows understanding of how the center bloc of influence Quebec and Ontario – has thus become unavoidable and how it can permeate in Canada – this is said of course in respect to all the other provinces.
It is more than an economic collaboration, the Quebec-Ontario tie shapes a direction and a certain future vision of Canada; that of a Canada where economic prosperity is conjugated with the respect of the environment : that of an open Canada, of reciprocity and respect of diversity which recognizes the fundamental role of French in Canadian identity.
All too often, we forget that the solution to different economic, environmental and social issues are also common aspirations. They illustrate who we are and what we believe.
What must we expect from close Quebec-Ontario ties? Well of course, a collaboration that will benefit our citizens and address our major issues facing society today, but also the desire to shape together the Canada of tomorrow.
Member for Saint-Laurent, Government House Leader, Minister responsible for Access to Information and the Reform of Democratic Institutions and Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Canadian Francophonie