Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, ministre des Relations internationales du Québec et ministre responsable de la Francophonie, Québec, le 21 avril 2005 – 2005/04/21
Accompanied by the president of the Québec National Assembly, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay welcomed members of the Education, Communication, and Cultural Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF) to Québec City. The minister declared that Québec places special importance on issues dealt with by the committee, including adoption by UNESCO of a Convention of the Diversity of cultural content and artistic expression —a “crucial issue for our governments and for civil society.” She hailed the pioneering efforts of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and its constituent assembly (APF), which have worked tirelessly to promote and defend cultural diversity. She expressed her wish that “the commitment on the part of our members and parliamentarians—both within and without the francophone community—must not waver until the convention is adopted at the 33rd session of the General Conference.” She also mentioned APF’s role in promoting and defending cultural diversity since 2000, including informative reports on cultural diversity, the evolution of WTO negotiations and their impact on intercultural dialog, and the development of a Convention of the Diversity of cultural content and artistic expression at UNESCO and the status of trade negotiations.
The minister noted that for the government of Québec, “a ‘good convention’ would guarantee the right of states and governments to support culture through policy on one hand, while fostering openness to non-domestic cultural expressions on the other. The convention must be on an equal footing with all other legal instruments, including trade agreements. We also believe that it must include an effective dispute resolution mechanisms and be carefully circumscribed, while at the same time recognizing the dual nature of cultural goods and services.” She also stressed the importance of maintaining the October 2005 target date “because the increase in the number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements being negotiated could significantly undermine the ability of governments to support culture.”
The minister also stressed that in the case of developing countries who had high hopes for the convention, culture has the potential to make a significant contribution to sustainable development and poverty reduction. “Not only do we need to protect their capacity to support their cultural industries in the future, we have to help them develop such industries in the first place. Rich countries shouldn’t be the only ones capable of supporting their artists and protecting their cultural expressions. We need to rethink cooperation with the South in a way that fosters the emergence of viable cultural industries consistent with the principles of sustainable development, industries that engender strong cultures reflecting the identities of their peoples. […] The fight for cultural diversity is fundamental for these countries because they, like us, are defending who they are, who they want to be, and the expressions of their identity.”
This is why the minister is working to support and mobilize these nations to secure adoption of the convention in October 2005 at UNESCO. “Together, we must continue our efforts, garnering support for our actions and the justice of our cause. On this depends our ability to globalize in a human way that recognizes the arts, literature, ways of life, and values of the world’s peoples and guarantees our right to preserve and protect identities and communities while at the same time opening up to other cultures.” [05-13]