A group of Australian parliamentarians headed by the President of the Federal Senate of Australia, John Joseph Hogg, made a visit to Québec City on April 20. Meetings held with representatives of the Québec government during the visit enabled Québec to promote its advantages as a partner of interest when it comes to fighting forest fires, developing the mining sector and administering Aboriginal affairs.
On April 27, the European Union member states and the European Commission gave the green light to pursuing trade liberalization with Canada. Over the past two years, Québec has paid a key role in promoting a new-generation economic partnership agreement, which is expected to benefit all Canadian provinces and all EU member states.
French and Québec authorities finalized 14 mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) in Paris on April 27. The MRAs were signed during the first meeting of the bilateral committee responsible for implementing an agreement between France and Québec on recognition of professional qualifications, co-chaired by Pierre Arcand, Québec’s Minister of International Affairs and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, and Alain Joyandet, France’s Secretary of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie.
During his recent visit to Montréal for a series of concerts at Place des Arts, French singer Charles Aznavour was made an Officer of the National Order of Québec. His award was presented by Premier Jean Charest on April 25.
Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, offered a very positive assessment of his recent trip to Germany and Austria. The Minister met with a number of Québec’s major partners with a view to reinforcing bilateral cooperation and contributing to the realization of the proposed Canada-EU economic partnership agreement.
Québec’s Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, is carrying out a mission to Berlin, Munich and Linz from April 18 to 25. The Minister’s goal is to consolidate economic and political ties with Québec’s partners Germany and Upper Austria.
At the opening of the Montréal Millennium Summit on April 15, Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, reaffirmed Québec’s commitment to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Addressing an audience of international experts, Mr. Arcand noted that Québec has been a true pioneer in international solidarity for over thirty years through its recognition of the vital role civil society plays in development.
The economic and financial crisis’s impacts on the developing countries figured prominently at a seminar held at Egmont Palace in Brussels on March 31. Co-organized by the International Francophone Organization (OIF), Egmont Palace, the Canadian Embassy and Québec Government Office in Brussels, the event also provided an opportunity to discuss the international community’s role in mitigating the effects of the crisis.
An update on the second year (2007-2008) of Québec’s International Policy is now available on the website of the Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI). In addition to summarizing the status of some 70 measures and initiatives set out in the 2006-2009 action plan arising from the Policy, the report confirms the value of the concerted international action taken by partner departments and agencies and emphasizes Québec’s range of action.
The Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI) has just released its first sustainable development action plan, which sets forth the efforts that the department plans to prioritize in order to contribute to the Government Sustainable Development Strategy for 2008-2013. The MRI’s sustainable development contribution is adapted to the department’s special mission and will mobilize all of its resources, in Québec and abroad.
The Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, Pierre Arcand, was delighted by the announcement made on April 16 by President Obama proposing a high-speed rail strategic plan that promotes a greener, more sustainable method of transportation and identifies Montréal within one of the ten major corridors.
FAST, which stands for Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade, recently inaugurated its secretariat in Montréal. This international NGO’s mission is to increase sustainable production and trade through financing adapted to small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. The Ministère des Relations internationales assisted in establishing the secretariat of FAST in Montréal through the Fonds de développement International de Montréal (fund for the international development of Montréal).
Raymond Bachand, Minister of Finance and Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, recently announced that $3,458,000 will be provided over a three-year period to support 17 international research projects in the areas of healthcare, human and social sciences, nanotechnology, energy, high-tech materials, IT and communications, aeronautics/aerospace and climate change.
Laval University celebrated the opening of the Francophone Demographic and Statistical Observatory (ODSEF) on April 9 at a ceremony attended by Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, and representatives of the Francophone University Agency (AUF) and the International Francophone Organization (OIF). In addition to housing the Observatory, Laval University will oversee the scientific management of the project, which aims to develop a linguistic atlas of the French-speaking world.
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) launched its first European tour under the direction of conductor Kent Nagano with a sold-out concert in Valencia, Spain, on April 15. The Government of Québec is a co-presenter of the six-country, 13-concert tour. Government support for the series of performances is coordinated by the Ministère des Relations internationales.
The BIXI self-serve bicycle system of the City of Montréal won first prize in the “Energy and Sustainability” category at the Edison Awards on April 1 in Mountain View, California. These awards, which are inspired by the famous American inventor, are awarded annually for the most innovative products in North America. The Québec Government Representative in Los Angeles, Denis Turcotte, was in attendance to receive the award on behalf of Mayor Gérald Tremblay.
During a ceremony in Linz, Austria on April 22, Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, presented Kent Nagano, musical director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), with a symbolic baton paying tribute to the Orchestra’s first European tour under his direction. The event marked the OSM’s first concert in Linz.