Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Québec’s premier speaks out in favor of a Canada-European Union free trade agreement— 2007/01/19

On January 24 to 28, 2007, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Premier of Québec, Mr. Jean Charest and the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation, and Export Trade, Raymond Bachand expressed a wish to see talks begin on a Canada–European Union free trade agreement. Mr. Charest declared, “Ten years ago, Canada’s inclusion in a transatlantic European Union strategy seemed to be an objective that absolutely had to be pursued. The changes in the international environment since then make that objective even more relevant today. The European Union is working to strengthen its ties with the United States and to form new alliances with other regions of the world, and its relations with Canada should be equally strengthened.” A Government of Québec information document on perspectives for a free trade and economic cooperation agreement between Canada and the European Union perspective specifies that “Québec, given its sensitivity to a set of social, cultural, and environmental stakes, would like to work more with European Union countries. For example, we have made numerous efforts, in cooperation with the federal government, in favor of the establishment of a convention on cultural diversity within UNESCO. This testifies to our commitment to finding common solutions. It clearly illustrates the nature of the types of cooperation that may be envisaged in the future.” On January 26, 2007, Minister Bachand issued a press release stating that, “It has to be a new-generation agreement that will deal with the impediments to investment and stimulate trade of goods and services. It could also cover sustainable development, mobility for people and goods, recognition of skills, and scientific and technical cooperation .” As a reminder that the negotiating strategy should be sufficiently open and flexible to allow for sector-specific negotiations parallel or accessory to the main agreement , the press release added, “Any future agreement should also pay special attention to protecting and promoting cultural diversity.”