Topic Culture

Promoting our Cultural Heritage

When it established the Ministère des Affaires Culturelles in 1961, Jean Lesage’s government wished to remind us that Quebec has a distinct culture in North America. The ministry, created to defend the French language in an Anglophone environment, spearheaded many initiatives that contributed to the rise of Quebec culture, from the creation of the Office Québécois de la langue française to the establishment of a now internationally renowned film industry.

This special topic is an opportunity for us to salute the remarkable work of Georges-Émile Lapalme, of his deputy minister Guy Frégault, and of Pierre Laporte: these men have made culture a national priority.

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A francophone island on the North American continent

The history of Quebec is inseparable from its world-famous Francophone culture. The latter is expressed through literature, music, art and cinema. Quebec’s strength lies in its ability to make this dominant Francophone culture coexist alongside others, especially Anglophone and Aboriginal cultures, a relationship that allows the province to assert itself as a singular nation.

In this respect, it is important to remember that Quebec is composed of an Anglophone minority and of several Aboriginal nations with various languages and cultures (Abenaki, Algonquin, Atikamekw, Cree, Huron-Wendat, Maliseet, Innu, Mohawk, Inuit, Naskapi, Micmac).

A rich culture to promote in Canada and the world

Quebec culture is above all a popular culture that has been expressed by great individuals. Whether we think of singer-songwriter Félix Leclerc or poet Émile Nelligan, several artists contributed as early as the 19th century to the rise of Quebec culture at the international level. Today, artists like Robert Lepage, Dany Lafferière and Marie Chouinard are our best ambassadors.

The dissemination of this culture and access to it have mainly depended on voluntarist initiatives by Liberal governments, first of all through the strong leadership of certain political men and women who wished to build an institutional framework that matched our cultural ambitions. Their achievements in the past fifty years have been significant. After creating several institutions, the Quebec Ministère de la Culture et des Communications now has a substantial budget, with overall spending of 703 million dollars planned in the 2017-2018 budget. The Couillard government is prioritizing culture now more than ever, and in early 2017 announced investments of more than 22 million dollars in this sector for regions and municipalities.

Moreover, several concrete initiatives have provided financial support for artists. For instance, the last Bourassa government inaugurated the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres (CALQ) in 1993. The creation of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) has also contributed to promoting Quebec culture.

Finally, the goal of Liberal governments has always been to facilitate access to culture for the largest number of our fellow citizens; access that is even more direct today thanks to the digitization of content. For example, users of the BAnQ can access a multitude of online resources on a number of subjects.

Continuing to promote and open up Quebec culture

In line with his illustrious predecessors, Premier Philippe Couillard intends to make the cultural sector an essential pillar of economic growth in Quebec, as well as a vehicle of social cohesion. In keeping with the strong initiatives taken by the last Bourassa government, we wished to write a new chapter in the cultural history of Quebec by renewing Quebec’s cultural policy. The new policy complements the digital cultural plan launched in 2014.

This policy takes a comprehensive approach to culture in the digital age. It is founded on several fundamental main lines. Taking account of the context of globalization that entails the growing use of English in various media, the government reminded us of the necessity, first of all, of defending and preserving the French language. But this defense and preservation requires a heterogeneous view of our culture. This is why the new Quebec cultural policy will prioritize the principal of “diversity” to take into account the cultural contribution of immigrant and Aboriginal cultural communities. Finally, at the level of governance, the government desires the active participation of all administrative levels—municipal and regional—in the cultural policy and intends to make the citizen a proactive actor in this field.

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«Our culture defines us and we will promote it everywhere. For it to be available to the largest number of people, we must support the cultural domain in a structured, concerted way to ensure the presence of Quebec artistic and cultural production, firstly at home, and elsewhere in the world.
- Philippe Couillard, Opening speech for the 1st session of the 41st legislature of the National Assembly of Quebec
Historical achievements

Some of the Liberal Governments' Historical Achievements

March 24, 1961

Creation of the Ministère des Affaires Culturelles

The Liberal government of Jean Lesage established the Ministère des Affaires Culturelles in 1961. Learn more

October 05, 1961

Establishment of the first Québec Government Office in Paris

Mindful of Quebec’s cultural influence around the world, Jean Lesage’s government created the Québec ... Learn more

July 31, 1974

Establishment of French as the official language of Quebec

Robert Bourassa was responsible for the adoption of the Official Language Act (also known as “Bill 22”), th... Learn more

November 12, 1987

Passing of the Status of the Artist Act

With the passing of the Status of the Artist Act, Quebec artists were granted recognition by Robert Bourass... Learn more

June 24, 2008

Inauguration of the Samuel De Champlain promenade

This project has allowed Quebecers to re-appropriate the St. Lawrence River. The Samuel De Champlain promen... Learn more

Achievements of the current government

Some of the Philippe Couillard Government's Achievements

September 29, 2014

Unveiling of Quebec’s Digital Cultural Plan

This approach aims to support the development of digital culture in Quebec. It represents an investment of ... Learn more

April 24, 2015

Unveiling of the Plan d'action sur le livre (Book Action Plan)

Hélène David, Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister responsible for the Protection and Promot... Learn more

December 05, 2016

$10 million in investments to foster stronger ties between culture and education

In order to strengthen the collaboration between the cultural and education sectors for the benefit of elem... Learn more