On June 16, 2017, the staffers of the Québec Government office in Boston were very excited to welcome the Minister of International Relations and la Francophonie of Québec, Christine St-Pierre. Not only did she meet with influent economical stakeholders and devoted civil society advocates from Massachusetts, but she also spoke at the ceremony of Sail Boston 2017 to promote Rendez-vous 2017 and the Regatta of Tall Ships.
In town for a few hours only, Minister St-Pierre was on a tight schedule. Fortunately, everything was smooth sailing !
Early in the morning of June 16, 2017, Minister St-Pierre arrived in Boston by plane. She directly headed to the Boston Harbor Hotel where the members of the Québec Government office were promptly ready to welcome her.
After the greetings, Minister St-Pierre discussed her appointments on schedule with the Québec Delegate to New England, Marie-Claude Francoeur. The Minister was then ready to start her day without further delay.
The first appointment was between Minister St-Pierre and Nam Pham, the Assistant Secretary of Business Development of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. They discussed about the modernization of NAFTA, food safety and biotechs. Then, the Minister St-Pierre met with Dan Mulhern, the Director of the Public Safety Initiative of the City of Boston, which is the agency involved in the framework « countering violent extremism » (CVE). During their meeting, Minister St-Pierre and Dan Mulhern had the opportunity to discuss different topics, such as the struggle against radicalization and the integration of newcomers. They also discussed about the City of Boston’s good practices, not only in terms of public safety, but also in terms of dialogue and collaboration with the communities.
Once the meeting was over, they headed towards the Rotunda of the Boston Harbor Hotel, as the opening ceremony of Sail Boston would take place under its infamous dome. On their way, the Minister St-Pierre and Dan Mulhern ran into the Mayor of the City of Boston, Marty Walsh. What a warm and welcoming person! The Minister St-Pierre and the Mayor got to enjoy their short, yet pleasant discussion. They also took several pictures as they walked towards the Rotunda and greeted attendees.
At twelve o’clock, a fanfare kicked off the celebration with the Star-Spangled Banner. It was a touching moment because of the impressive crowd of dignitaries, journalists and spectators who were all solemnly listening to the National Anthem. A row of flags of the participating countries had been installed behind the main stage. Still, the most impressive was the immense Sail Boston blue banner that floated above the audience. We could feel tension in the air!
Several people spoke at the ceremony, including the event organizers, members of the US Navy, and dignitaries such as the Senator for Massachusetts, Edward J. Markey, and Mayor Marty Walsh. We felt that they were all genuinely proud and happy to be part of this great celebration of the City of Boston’s maritime and tourism heritage.
In her speech, Minister St-Pierre also addressed that legacy. Then, she asserted the privileged ties between the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Québec’s province. Minister St-Pierre pointed out that the Canadian flag and the American flag had been placed side by side behind her, and that it was this kind of close relationship that should be fostered between Canada and the United States. This declaration was greeted by a thunderous applause. Without any doubt, Minister St-Pierre had found the best way to capture the assistance’s attention! In addition of celebrating Québec and Massachusetts strong trade and tourism relations, Minister St-Pierre invited the assistance to follow the Tall Ships to Québec City, as they would sail the St. Lawrence River for Rendez-Vous 2017 : Tall Ships Regatta, by the end of July 2017.
After her vibrant speech, Minister St-Pierre and the Québec Delegate to New England attended a business lunch with the Senator for Massachusetts, Edward J. Markey, the New England Canada Business Council President, Jon Sorenson, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investments, Mark Sullivan, and Robert Rio, the Vice President of Government Affairs of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. The discussion focused on current international trade issues, such as hydropower, the modernization of NAFTA, and the softwood lumber agreement.
To conclude the day, Minister St-Pierre met with Massachusetts’ civil society advocates. First, she listened to the touching testimony of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings’ survivors, Dave Fortier and Celeste Corcoran from the One World Strong Foundation. This meeting emphasized the power of shared resilience by trauma survivors in the fight against radicalization. Then, Minister St-Pierre met with the Executive Director of MassEquality, Deborah Shields, and discussed the challenges of the legislation against based gender discrimination or expression in Canada and in Massachusetts.
What a day! Thanks to these productive, yet interesting meetings, Minister St-Pierre is now aware of the opinion of Massachusetts’ key stakeholders on the priorities of Québec International Policy. In addition, Minister St-Pierre’s mission asserted the importance of maintaining strong relations between Massachusetts and Québec.
Hope to see you soon, Minister St-Pierre !