The 2009-2010 budget that Minister of Finance Monique Jérôme-Forget tabled in the National Assembly on March 19 continues the deployment of the government’s action plan to promote job growth and lay the groundwork for economic recovery. Combined with other efforts that have been launched over the past few months, the measures contained in the budget mean that an addition $15 billion in cash revenues, equivalent to 4.9% of GDP, will be injected into Québec’s economy in 2009 and 2010 in order to stimulate growth. Although Québec has been less affected by the global recession than its neighbours, these initiatives to support the economy exceed the target set by the International Monetary Fund (2% of GDP) and the amount earmarked by the federal government (4.1% of GDP), and are comparable with the U.S. plan to spend 4.8% of GDP to kick-start the economy.
Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, celebrated the Moscow-Québec Centre’s 10th anniversary together with Alexey V. Isakov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Montréal, on March 19. The Centre is the result of a cooperation agreement between Laval University and Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.
On March 11, the Government of Québec tabled Bill 3, called “An Act to provide for the implementation of the Entente entre le Québec et la France en matière de reconnaissance mutuelle des qualifications professionnelles and similar agreements,” in the National Assembly. The purpose of Bill 3 is to implement the agreement that Québec Premier Charest and French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed on October 17, 2008. This historic text establishes a procedure for mutual recognition of professional competence, and thus facilitates the issuing of permits to allow individuals to exercise their profession or trade in both France and Québec.
In conjunction with Montréal's Fashion Week, Montréal mayor Gérald Tremblay unveiled a new strategy entitled Montréal Freestyle (Montréal Style Libre) on March 3, together with Raymond Bachand, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade and Minister Responsible for the Montréal Region. The strategy is designed to promote Montréal as a creative fashion centre by spotlighting its expertise, artistic potential and innovative capabilities.
International Francophone Day (March 20) will have special resonance in Québec this year. Back in October 2008, Québec City welcomed 60 heads of state and delegations at the 12th Conference of Francophone Heads of State and Government. In Québec and around the world, a series of activities promoting the 2009 edition of International Francophone Day will serve to reaffirm Québec's commitment to La Francophonie.
The National, a United Arab Emirates-based daily newspaper, won 22 awards of excellence, including three silver medals, at the 30th annual Best of Newspaper Design competition. Montréal designer Lucie Lacava and her team designed the layout of the paper, which was launched last year in Abu Dhabi.
As announced at the recent Grammy awards ceremony, the complex housing the new Grammy Museum has been named the Pierre Cossette Center. Located in downtown Los Angeles, the museum pays tribute to the biggest names in music and has a special section dedicated to Mr. Cossette, a Québec native.
In conjunction with International Francophone Day (March 20), Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, paid tribute to singer, songwriter and performer Jean-Pierre Ferland for his outstanding contributions to the French language and Québec culture on the international stage.
Eight Québec productions will be shown at the inaugural Québec Film Festival in Haiti, which will be held in Port-au-Prince from March 19-22 in conjunction with the Quinzaine de la Francophonie. The festival receives support from the Government of Québec.
On Thursday, March 12, about forty Université de Montréal alumni met for the first time at the home of Québec Delegate General in Brussels, Christos Sirros, in response to an invitation from the university’s Rector, Luc Vinet.
The Office Québec-Monde pour la jeunesse will soon see the light of day. Its mission will be to develop relations between young people in Québec and those in jurisdictions and countries that are not covered by the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ), the Office Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles pour la jeunesse (OQWBJ) and the Office Québec-Amériques pour la jeunesse (OQAJ).
In the presence of Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation announced on March 9 that it was donating $100,000 to the Fondation des Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec (“Fondation LOJIQ”), to support tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. The donation provides direct assistance for young entrepreneurs who deploy a formative business project in France.
The new Québec government elected in December 2008 has a mandate to "weather the storm currently sweeping the planet", said Premier Jean Charest in his speech to the National Assembly opening the new legislative session on March 10. Gauging the full impact of the crisis, which he called "unprecedented", he said that the economic action plan introduced in December would enable Québec to withstand the crisis and set it on the road to recovery. The Premier announced three priority action areas that will form the focus of the government's efforts over the next few years.