Premier Jean Charest and the Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, praised the appointment of Herman Van Rompuy to head the European Council. Mr. Van Rompuy will become the first permanent President of the European Council on January 1, 2010.
The memory of Québec cinema pioneer Gilles Carle was celebrated on December 5 at Notre Dame Basilica in Montréal. Attending were his wife, Chloé Sainte-Marie, and several personalities from the artistic and political communities, including Premier Jean Charest.
Québec astronaut Julie Payette recently gave the National Assembly the Québec flag that traveled with her on her latest space mission last July. After orbiting the earth 248 times and travelling 10,537,748 km in two weeks, the Fleurdelisé, as the Québec flag is called, ended its journey at the Parliament Building in Québec City.
The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and the Ministry of Higher Education of the Arab Republic of Egypt have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to intensify university cooperation between Québec and this Francophonie partner in the Middle East.
On December 8 at Moscow City Hall, Premier Jean Charest and the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, signed a joint cooperation declaration aimed at developing bilateral relations. The leaders thus expressed their desire to build closer economic, cultural and educational ties, among other ways through exchanges of people and knowledge.
Approximately 500 people attended the 20th biennial conference of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS), which was held in San Diego at the end of November. The conference is the main North American forum for US academics and researchers specializing in Canadian and Québec studies.
Spain welcomed several well-known Québec authors in November. The writers were in the country to take part in activities supported by the Québec Government office in Barcelona. An initial lecture tour organized by the International Association of Québec Studies (AIEQ) was devoted to authors Neil Bissoondath and Pierre Szalowski. Another event, flowing from an exchange between the Centre des auteurs dramatiques (CEAD) and the Sala Beckett (Beckett theatre) in Barcelona, focused on playwrights Evelyne de la Chenelière, Catherine Léger and Larry Tremblay.
An agreement was signed between the Québec International Youth Offices (LOJIQ) and the Assembly of European Regions (AER) on November 26. “Québec is now in direct contact with more than 270 European regions with a view to developing professional internship opportunities and enhancing the international mobility of young people from Québec and various regions of Europe,” said LOJIQ’s secretary general Alfred Pilon at the signing ceremony for the agreement.
Premier Jean Charest began a mission to France on November 27 by attending the signing in Paris of four new mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) in the health sector. The arrangements cover physicians, pharmacists, dentists and midwives. They were signed by the heads of the Québec and French professional orders in these areas. In addition to Premier Charest, the signing was attended by France’s Minister of Health and Sports, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin.
Pascal Couchepin, the Grand Témoin de la Francophonie for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games and former President of the Swiss Confederation was in Québec City on November 24. The Grand Témoin has been tasked by the Secretary General of la Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, to observe the role and use of the French language during the Olympic Games in accordance with Article 24 of the Olympic Charter which gives French official language status.
Québec puppeteers will be front and centre at this year’s Titirijai Festival (International Puppet Festival) in Tolosa, Spain, to be held from November 28 to December 6. The 27th edition of the festival will be the inaugural event for Tolosa’s brand-new TO.PIC complex, one of the world’s largest puppet arts centres. Québec’s high-profile participation in the festival will wrap up a series of activities held to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Québec government office in Barcelona.
On November 23, some thirty heads of diplomatic missions posted in Ottawa attended a presentation on the Plan Nord by the Deputy Premier, Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Minister Responsible for the Plan Nord, Nathalie Normandeau, and the Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand. The activity included a tour of the Radisson hydroelectric installations in Baie-James.
The Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI) was singled out for honours in the Public Service category for the signing of the Québec-France agreement on mutual recognition of professional competence, at an awards gala held by the Institut d’administration publique de Québec (IAPQ).
On November 23, Premier Jean Charest and Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Line Beauchamp, unveiled Québec’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by the year 2020. By targeting a 20% reduction below 1990 levels, Québec has set a goal similar to the target established by the European Union thus becoming the leader in the fight against climate change.
Québec, in collaboration with California, South Australia and several groupings of federated states and regions, is continuing to actively campaign to ensure that the role played by federated states and regions in the fight against climate change is included in the text of the regime that will succeed the Kyoto protocol. To that end, Premier Jean Charest and South Australian Premier Mike Rann will co-chair the 3rd States and Regions Climate Leaders Summit, which will take place in December during the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
On mission in Boston November 13 and 14, Québec Premier Jean Charest spoke during the 17th annual U.S.-Canada Energy Trade and Technology Conference of the New England-Canada Business Council (NECBC) to promote Québec as a key partner in providing clean, renewable energies. With less than 25 days remaining before the Copenhagen conference, Premier Charest reaffirmed the fundamental role of subnational states in the fight against climate change.
Premier Jean Charest and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham unveiled a memorandum of understanding on energy in Fredericton on October 29. Under the agreement, Hydro-Québec would acquire most of NB Power’s assets for $4.75B.
This coming December 7 to 11, Premier Jean Charest will lead an economic and political mission to Russia, accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, and some twenty representatives from Québec companies in the infrastructure, transportation and telecommunications sectors.