Spread the love

Beaudoin hopes Attal’s visit will be more political

Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Archives Le Devoir Louise Beaudoin (à droite), ministre péquiste des Relations internationales de 1998 à 2003, affirme que les dimensions culturelle, politique et scientifique étaient parmi les éléments importants de la relation avec la France.

Former PQ Minister of International Relations Louise Beaudoin hopes that the Quebec government will reconnect with the political dimension of exchanges with France during the official visit this week of French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.< /p>

She notes that this aspect has been put aside in Quebec diplomacy since the election of Prime Minister François Legault in 2018.

“We made only one priority, which was that of economic exchanges for the entire Quebec network abroad,” she declared to Devoir.

Ms. Beaudoin, who last held the Ministry of International Relations from 1998 to 2003, said the cultural, political and scientific dimensions were among the important elements of the relationship with France.

“The feeling we can have, in fact, is that there has been a relaxation in political relations. I hope that Gabriel Attal’s visit will reconnect with all the strength of the direct and privileged relationship we have with France. »

She hopes in particular that the two counterparts will address the question of the place of French-speaking content on digital platforms, a subject on which she co-wrote a report for the Quebec government.

The former minister also believes that the two heads of government could develop points of convergence on the subject of secularism.

“If our laws on secularism are very different, there is still a commonality of mind regarding secularism that we do not find in Canada,” she said.

A speech

After a first stop in Ottawa on Wednesday, Gabriel Attal will arrive in Quebec on Thursday, on the occasion of the first alternating meeting of Franco-Quebec prime ministers since 2018. The pandemic and various political events in France have forced the postponement of this 21st meeting, which is part of a tradition started in 1977 by René Lévesque.

As for Mr. Attal, in office since the beginning of the year, this will be Mr. Legault's first participation in these statutory meetings which take place every two years.

The French Prime Minister will deliver a speech to the National Assembly on Thursday, after meeting with his Quebec counterpart. He will then take the road to Montreal on Friday, where he will meet Mr. Legault for the economic aspect of their discussions.

Mr. Attal will be accompanied by some of his ministers, the list of which was not known on Tuesday. According to a Quebec government source, the planned program includes the themes of the French language, the economy and youth.

Free trade

Gabriel Attal's mission comes three weeks after the French Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), on free trade between the European Union and Canada, which is applied provisionally since 2017.

Lawyer and former PQ Prime Minister Pierre Marc Johnson, who was Quebec's chief negotiator for CETA, believes that the subject will be inevitable.

“I think that the Prime Minister of Quebec and the Canadian Prime Minister will look for explanations,” he said in an interview. Or maybe even the French Prime Minister will explain the situation without even being asked. »

Mr. Johnson said the risks of CETA being compromised were still very theoretical. Rejection by the Senate will force a vote by the French National Assembly.

In the perspective that France rejects the agreement, at least the majority of European countries would have to do the same to put an end to it, a scenario that Mr. Johnson considers less likely since 17 of the 27 European Union countries have already given their final agreement to CETA.

Unless there is a reversal, the provisional application of CETA, approved by all European heads of state and government and by the Council of the European Union, should prevail, according to Mr. Johnson.

“In practice, the mazes to undo this are such that we can think that unless there is a revolutionary situation, we will continue to see the provisional application,” he said .

Liberal Minister of International Relations of Quebec from 2014 to 2018, Christine St-Pierre believes that the Quebec government must take advantage of the presence of French journalists with Mr. Attal.

“If the French press is capable of relaying the message from Quebec and Canada in favor of the free trade agreement, we have done our job. »

First stop: Ottawa

In the federal capital, Wednesday, Gabriel Attal will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Discussions are expected to focus in particular on climate change.

In Ottawa, Tuesday, the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet, did not take exception to the fact that Mr. Attal was beginning his official visit to the federal capital.

“Quebec must remain insistent on preserving a highly privileged relationship between France and Quebec,” he said in a press briefing. And that, notwithstanding the fact that there is a tendency to try to get closer to Ottawa also on the French side. »

Mr. Blanchet observed that the French prime minister would still have “a significant presence” in Quebec.

“It compensates to a certain extent, so I don’t worry too much about it,” he said.

Christine St-Pierre, for her part, stressed that Ottawa's place in the Franco-Quebec relationship could sometimes be a source of irritants.

“We want to be important, we want to have priority in the eyes of the French,” she explained.

She also recalled that President Emmanuel Macron had limited himself to a stop in Ottawa during the G7 in Charlevoix, in 2018.

“It caused a little discomfort,” she said.

With Marco Bélair-Cirino

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116