After a rather mild winter, the signs of spring are beginning to appear across London. The daffodils which carpet the city’s parks provide us with a tantalising glimpse of the good weather to come. Since the New Year, The Delegation has already participated in several activities that underscore the dynamism of Québec across a range of sectors.
On the 17th January, I appeared before members of the International Trade Committee of the British Parliament to participate in a committee meeting concerning the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In the context of the current political situation in the UK, parliamentarians are studying the options available to the UK, in terms of economic relations, once it leaves the European Union. As such, the Committee invited me, as well as Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now and Dr. Lauge Poulsen, Senior Lecturer in International Political Economy at University College London, to participate in the committee meeting, during which I explained the advantages of CETA from Québec’s perspective and underlined those to be gained by both Canada and the EU from the agreement.
From the 25th – 27th February, I participated in a meeting of the heads of Québec’s European representations in Brussels. In the presence of the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Christine St-Pierre, we were able to discuss the stages leading to the ratification of CETA by the member states of the EU. We were thus able to share our perspectives on the support strategy offered to Québec companies in the European market in light of CETA, as well as on Québec’s international policy, which is due to be published shortly. It was a great pleasure to learn of the approval of CETA by the European Parliament on the 15th February.
From the 5th – 8th February, the Delegation accompanied Hydro-Québec’s Director for Transportation Electrification, France Lampron, on a mission to Norway, a world leader in electromobility. During her mission, Ms Lamrpon was able to learn more about best practices and to also raise awareness of Québec’s expertise in the field. Specifically, she was able to visit several EV installations and attend the Nordic EV Summit, an internationally-renowned conference that brings together Nordic experts in transport electrification. Speaking as a panellist at the conference, Ms Lampron presented the priorities of Hydro-Québec, as well as its engagement as a utilities company in the development and expansion of the efficient and innovative infrastructure needed to foster electric mobility.
On the 16th February, we had the pleasure of organising a screening of My Internship in Canada (Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre), followed by a Q&A session with the film’s director, Philippe Falardeau, in close collaboration with the Institut français. The evening marked the opening of Ciné-Québec, a showcase of contemporary and classic Québec cinema screened at the Institut from the 16th – 19th February. Following the screening, Philippe held a Q&A session with Senior Lecturer in French at Kings College London Dr. Craig Moyes. The conversation allowed audience members to better understand Philippe’s passions and motivations as a filmmaker. The programme, which also included films by Xavier Dolan, Denys Arcand and Louis Bélanger, was a great success, selling over 500 tickets.
On the 28th February, I participated in the Canada Seminar at Lady Margaret Hall, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University, alongside Oxford University Professor Jim Gallagher. The seminar, entitled ‘Québec and Scotland: two dialogues in contrast’, gave audience members the opportunity to better understand the historic founding principles of the perspectives and demands of Québec and Scotland. Through comparative dialogue, we were able to shine a light on the parallels and contrasts that exist between the two situations. From historic and contemporary links between England and Canada, to national identities and referenda, the conversation greatly piqued the interest of the audience. The seminar was made possible thanks to the collaboration between Lady Margaret Hall at Oxford University and the Canada-UK Foundation.
On the 2nd March, I welcomed four MPs, who are members of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee of the British Parliament, to the Delegation. From the 19th – 24th March, the committee members will partake in a working visit to Ottawa, Montréal and Québec, in order to learn more about Canadian intergovernmental relations, as well as the inner workings of the civil service, focussing on training and professionalization in particular. I thus invited the committee members to a working meeting to set the stage for their visit to Québec. Notably, I was able to explain the historic positions of the Québec government in relation to constitutional questions.
Finally, to celebrate this year’s Journée internationale de la Francophonie on the 20th March, the Delegation is collaborating with several francophone partners to bring you the very best of Québec and Francophone culture to London. On the 22nd March, the Clapham Grand Theatre in London will host the fourth edition of Le Match International d’Improvisation. This year’s match will unite professional actors and comedians representing Québec, Canada, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Monaco for a night of fantastic entertainment. On the 23rd March, the Delegation will host a Soirée littéraire to celebrate Québec’s contemporary literature. Renowned Québec author Éric Dupont, whose book La Fiancée américaine won the Prix des librairies 2013, will be the guest of honour at the event, with Yan Rioux from the Librairie du Québec à Paris hosting the evening. A selection of Éric’s novels will be on sale on the night. All details of the two events can be found here; I hope to see you many of you at these two events to mark the Semaine de la Francophonie as it deserves to be celebrated!