Prime Minister Harper and Premier Charest sign historic agreement establishing a formal role for Québec in UNESCO

Ottawa, Ontario
5 May 2006

During a ceremony today in the Quebec National Assembly’s Red Room, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest signed an agreement establishing a formal role for Quebec in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“Today we welcome Quebec into the UNESCO family, as we promised we would on December 19 of last year,” stated Prime Minister Harper. “With our signatures at the bottom of this agreement, Quebec can now participate fully in all of UNESCO’s activities, together with and through Canada’s Permanent Delegation. This agreement is a clear illustration of our vision of open federalism. We are at the dawn of a new era, an era that will see us build a strong, united, free and independent Canada in which a confident, autonomous, proud and unified Quebec can develop its full potential.”

Premier Charest stressed that the agreement, which recognizes Quebec’s unique and distinct personality, confirms Quebec’s special role on the world scene. “The signing of this Agreement, based on asymmetrical federalism, ushers in a new era of partnership between our two governments. Our presence in UNESCO will give us a say in sectors that are important for Quebec’s identity, such as culture, science and education. The federal government is formally recognizing Quebec’s capacity to act on the international front.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, was founded on November 16, 1945. In all of its activities and projects, UNESCO assumes various responsibilities that reflect its role as a leading institution in the fields of education, science, culture and communication. Part of this role is to collect, transmit, disseminate and share information, knowledge and best practices in its fields of endeavour, to define innovative solutions to problems and to test out these solutions by means of pilot projects. Advancing and disseminating knowledge so that it can be shared by everyone represents UNESCO’s main task.

Today’s agreement establishes a range of new and unprecedented mechanisms that will guarantee Quebec its rightful place and voice in UNESCO.