Ministère des relations internationales du Québec, le 8 novembre 2004 - 2004/11/08
Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec announced in a press release that Québec premier Jean Charest and French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will lead a joint small business trade mission to Mexico on November 17 and 18, 2004. The Canadian Press reported that the Québec government will use the joint economic mission as an opportunity to make progress on the diversity of the cultural expressions. On November 18, culture and communications minister Line Beauchamp, who will accompany the premier, and economic and regional development and research minister Michel Audet will take part in a France-Québec-Mexico round table outside the trade mission aimed at fine-tuning the international draft convention of UNESCO on cultural diversity and convincing other countries to support it. This intergovernmental meeting will also be attended by French culture and communications minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, Mexico National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA) president Sari Bermúdez, and Canadian coalition for cultural diversity vice president Robert Pilon.
In its report, the Canadian Press noted that like many other governments, Québec and Canada are calling on UNESCO to adopt a Convention on the Protection of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions and, to this end, Mexico could play a key role in garnering Latin American support for the diversity of the cultural expressions . For signatory states, the issue is to maintain the right of states and governments to promote their national culture in a variety of ways and thereby resist the American steam roller. For example, Québec could continue to freely subsidize its film industry and impose quotas for French songs on the radio.
The Canadian Press maintains that the need for such an international offensive arises from the threat posed by ongoing trade liberalization. Québec, Canada, and the other signatory countries are attempting to counterbalance the United States, which is pressuring the WTO to recognize cultural products as ordinary goods that do not qualify for protection by national governments. ( Available in French )