Some 500 young people from across Québec took part from August 27 to 30 in the sixth edition of the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) summer school, held in Montréal. Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, was invited to give a speech during the opening day of the educational and citizen-dialogue forum. He stressed the importance of the international role of Québec and other federated states in rising to today’s leading challenges.
“Our society, economy and future can be understood only in the light of the international context of which they are a part. […] Today, major factors with a direct impact on our lives are targeted by international discussions, negotiations and agreements,” said Arcand, who said that Québec has set an example, as a federated state, in the area of international relations.
Minister Arcand pointed to Québec’s international efforts in certain areas of particular interest for the government. Among other topics, he spoke about the deployment of Québec’s new economic space, an ambitious plan aimed at stimulating the economy and employment. Two of the five target areas identified by the plan involve Québec’s international role, namely the implementation of the France-Québec agreement on mutual recognition of professional qualification and the negotiations leading up to a new partnership between Canada and the European Union. Québec intends to voice its positions in areas under its jurisdiction during the Canada-EU negotiations.
According to the Minister, the Francophone Summit held close to a year ago in Québec City — the largest political meeting in Canadian history — was a chance for Québec to “reassert its international personality and leadership in areas such as promoting the French language.” With respect to international solidarity, Arcand said that Québec’s efforts over a period of more than 30 years have called on civil society, i.e., international cooperation organizations and young people. “Each year, the Québec International Development Program and Québec Without Borders Program support over 20 development projects and 420 solidarity internships.” In closing, the Minister spoke about the recent creation of the Office Québec-Monde pour la jeunesse (OQMJ), which is responsible for developing relations between young people in Québec and countries and territories not already covered by the three existing youth agencies.
The INM’s 2009 summer school was held under the theme Et si on prenait le pouvoir? (“What if we took power?”). During an assembly chaired by Yvon Vallières, Speaker of the Québec National Assembly, the participants submitted 26 political projects for building a better society. A number of public figures from Québec, elsewhere in Canada and abroad took part in the forum alongside the young participants. The summer school was aimed at developing civic character. Minister Arcand stressed the role of the INM in building citizen participation and renewing ideas in Québec.
Speech by Pierre Arcand (in French)
Institut du Nouveau Monde