Here in London, the telltale signs of the festive season are once more springing up all across the city: decorations have gone up, shoppers are busy buying gifts and tantalising displays of seasonal fayre in store windows are all too many. The Delegation has had a busy autumn season, organising and participating in several important activities across a range of sectors.
On the 22nd September, I undertook a mission to Edinburgh, Scotland. Having been invited by the European and External Relations Committee of the Scottish Parliament to give evidence before committee members, I outlined and explained Québec’s intergovernmental relations, as well as the role played by Québec in the negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. In the context of the current political situation in the UK, the parliamentarians were interested in the diverse formal and informal mechanisms of Québec’s intergovernmental consultations.
From the 6th – 8th October, I was able to accompany Premier Couillard on a mission to the 4th Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland. Founded in 2013, Arctic Circle has become one of the most important annual gatherings to focus on Arctic issues. Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony of the Assembly, Premier Couillard presented Québec’s Maritime Strategy, underscoring the links between Québec’s strategy, a comprehensive project for sustainable economic development, as well as the Plan Nord, another economic priority for the Government of Québec.
From the 19th – 21st October, I accompanied the Minister for Maritime Affairs, Jean D’Amour, as he led a Québec delegation to the BioMarine Business Convention in Oslo, Norway. Delegation members, including businesses and research support organisations, held numerous meetings in order to connect with other businesses in the sector and generate opportunities for collaboration. Alongside these developments, Minister D’Amour met with representatives of several countries, including Argentina, Iceland, Norway and Portugal, allowing the Minister to gain greater insight into the skills, fields of interest and possibilities that could be exploited to reinforce Québec’s marine biotechnology sector.
On the 24th October, I visited Tunbridge Wells, a UK town with a surprising connection with Québec. Invited by the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, I visited the grave of Jeffery Hale, a philanthropist born in Québec and educated in England and who served in the Royal Navy for ten years. Hale later returned to Québec to devote himself to charitable endeavours. Upon his death in 1867, Hale provided funds to establish a hospital in Québec City, known today as Jeffrey Hale – St Brigid’s Hospital. It was a pleasure to be able to visit the new commemorative installations, completed by the Friends of Woodbury Park Cemetery volunteer group and made possible thanks to the Jeffery Hale Foundation, and to learn more about Jeffrey Hale. My thanks go to June Bridgeman and the Friends of Woodbury Park Cemetery for the wonderful restoration they have done.
Finally, on the 28th October, I attended the Ireland Canada Business Summit in Dublin. The event provided attendees with the opportunity to learn more about the diverse transatlantic business opportunities that Canada has to offer. Additionally, former Québec Premier Jean Charest spoke at a seminar entitled ‘Doing Business with Québec’, organised by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Mr Charest’s talk, one that focussed on the history and strength of Québec-Irish relations, coincided with the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union.
From the 11th – 13th December, Québec City will be hosting the third Arctic Circle Forum. Organised by the Arctic Circle and the Government of Québec, the gathering will focus on the sustainable development of northern regions. Québec will present its own approach as implemented in the Plan Nord, and will ask other key players to share their experience and expertise in this area. I look forward to attending the event and to telling you more in my next newsletter.
2016 has been a year of great successes for the Delegation. From participating in major events such as the Farnborough International Airshow, the Edinburgh Festivals, Arctic Circle and BioMarine, to the hosting of significant public events, such as the Semaine de la Francophonie and Fête nationale, to the welcoming of countless Québec artists and performers across the territories we cover, the Delegation has contributed greatly to the rayonnement of Québec across the UK, Ireland and Nordic countries. On behalf of all staff members at the Delegation, I wish you all a joyful and healthy festive season and a happy new year.