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Quebec must make its voice heard on the international stage, says Jan Charest

Quebec must make its voice heard on the international stage, says Jan Charest

Former Prime Minister Jean Charest insists on the importance of Quebec leading a “unrestricted international policy”, 15 years after initialing the Quebec-Canada Treaty on UNESCO.

“We will always have to attack our interests. We need to follow a barrier-free international policy. You should not prevent yourself from being where you want to be or from interacting with whomever you want. You must be present,” he confirms in an interview with duty.

The May 5, 2006 agreement recognizes that “the peculiarity of Quebec in Canada, which is founded among other things on the use of the French language and its unique culture, leads it to play a special role at the international level,” starting with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Today’s agreement establishes a new and unprecedented mechanism to ensure Quebec has its rightful place and voice in UNESCO,” said Federal Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his visit to the Assembly. The National Assembly, on May 5, 2006, after approving the appointment of a representative of the Government of Quebec in the permanent delegation of Canada to UNESCO. In the event of a withdrawal, the leader of the Party of Quebec, André Boycekler, expected that the Quebec envoy would be sentenced to “simple filming” inside the United Nations.

“In an ideal world, we would have liked to have a specific representation,” Mr. Scharst said 15 years later, while referring to the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF), of which Quebec is a full member. “Even within the International Organization of la Francophonie, Quebec is, in principle, on its terms of reference. Me, I have pulled the tape much further,” he states in passing. Having said that, the former prime minister said, “He is satisfied[r] Much “from the UNESCO-made place in Quebec.

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‘A cultural exception’

The first representative of the Government of Quebec in the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO, Michel Odette (2007-2011) was concerned with ensuring the implementation of The Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural ExpressionsWhich was adopted in 2005 against the advice of the United States and Israel, while “appropriate[iant] Laws and processes of UNESCO and respect[ant] Canadian foreign policy framework in the affairs of multilateral diplomacy of the United Nations.

The relationship between Quebec and Canada was in good shape at UNESCO, until the arrival of Canadian Ambassador Ellen Ayot, explains former Minister of International Relations, Christine Saint-Pierre. “It is as if Eileen Ayot felt invested in the mission to get Quebec back in place and make us sit on a folding stool,” recounts the Quebec national team, who was one of the leading figures at the Quebec and UNESCO conference, “The Internet and Youth Radicalization: Prevention, Work and Live Together” in Fall 2016.

The current representative of Quebec City in the Canadian delegation to UNESCO, Michel Bonsant (2019-), maintains, as he affirms, a “frank” and “cordial” relationship with the new ambassador, Natasha Bauer Kaier. “Quebec’s voice is heard in areas of interest to Quebec: education and culture first, but also the ethics of artificial intelligence and the promotion of open science,” he says in Task.


Thanks to the Quebec-Canada Agreement on UNESCO, Christine Saint-Pierre “plowed the earth” to the appearance of a Quebec representative on the scene within Canadian delegations to United Nations committees.

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For his part, Jan Charst calls today for the conclusion of a “regional federal agreement on the participation of regions in negotiations of international agreements,” of a commercial or environmental nature, for example. The attorney takes a template for the format of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU), in which he was the instigator. On the other end of the phone, he remembers: “All the provinces were represented.” For him, such a regional federal agreement is one of his government’s “unfinished business”.

“Quebec has skills of critical importance, almost the same as those of a sovereign nation,” recalls Mr. Charest. What’s more, he is not required to ask permission before giving his opinion. “I didn’t feel bound by federal restrictions. If this was a topic that interested Quebec and we had things to offer and say, then I went for it,” says Mr. Charest, as he remembers his “crepe cake” with Stephen Harper during the 2009 Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change.

“What was amazing, frankly, to me was how the prime ministers who preceded me were subject to self-censorship.” “They haven’t paid that far,” the former prime minister said.

What about those who succeeded him at the helm of the federal state of Quebec?

Asymmetric Federalism