Québec’s international personality is well established and has its roots in the 19th century. In modern times, Québec’s diplomacy has stretched around the world starting with the opening of offices in New York (1940), Paris (1961) and in other cities in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Today, Québec has 26 offices worldwide and representatives in three multilateral, international organizations (UNESCO, OIF, OAS).
Since the early days of the Quiet Revolution under Premier Jean Lesage and through his successors, Québec governments have made it a duty to promote its exclusive responsibilities under the Canadian constitution. More recently, those priorities have expanded to include areas of shared jurisdiction under Canada’s constitution – border security, economics and trade, energy, the environment, culture, and immigration.
Of course, Québec’s representatives interact with the Canadian diplomatic corps to advance common interests. They often act as complement or catalyst in order to advance mutual goals – Canada-EU free trade negotiations are a recent example.
My role as Delegate General has led me to work closely with my colleagues at the Canadian embassy in Washington and at the consulates within the Mid-Atlantic area. The experience has been highly positive and leads me to add the term “value-added” to our collaborations.
Canada’s current Ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, is a good illustration. A former Premier of Manitoba, Ambassador Doer never fails to mention Québec hydro power as part of Canada's energy mix to supplement U.S. energy needs. He has also been an ally on issues such as ballast water standards in the Great Lakes and trade issues like Buy America clauses. Beyond D.C., Consuls General John Prato (New York), David Marshall (Philadelphia) and Marta Moszczenska (Buffalo) complement the Ambassador’s efforts on trade, investment, and border issues.
Canada and the U.S. share a unique relationship. President Kennedy, on a visit to Ottawa in 1961, said that “geography has made us neighbors, necessity has made us allies, economics has made us partners, and history has made us friends.” We have the largest commercial partnership in the world, share the most important free trade agreement in the world with Mexico and are a model to the world on how two nations can be partners and friends. Finally, Québec’s representatives working closely with our Canadian partners make the Canadian connection a value-added advantage, beneficial to all involved.