Quebec Studies

Public Policy in Canada: American Business Experiences in Québec

Quebec Studies (1984), 2, (1), 4–15.


PUBLIC POLICY IN CANADA: AMERICAN BUSINESS EXPERIENCES IN QUEBEC Joseph Le May Continuing foreign investment in Québec as well as in all of Canada has been a high priority item for every generation of Québec leaders. Foreign investment, particularly American, has been sought after in such areas as high technology, manu­ facturing, and resource-based industries. It is outside capital that has provided for economic expansion to create jobs for Québécois and to help sustain a high standard of living. What has happened to American business activities in Québec since the 1976 election, when the ruling Liberal Party under Robert Bourassa was defeated by the Parti Québécois under René Lévesque, a party committed to separation from Canada as its major strategy to maintain the culture and language of the French-speaking majority? Is Québec a less attractive place for American investors? The answers are complex but point towards an affirmative response. Canada has always been a most attractive place for American business and it still is; however, the glow has dimmed over the last ten years. There has been a natural economic movement to western Canada, as in the United States. But, most important, Federal and provincial policies have had a major negative impact on foreign investors. The election of the Parti Québécois created some anxiety among the business communities of New York, Montreal, and Toronto, and the media fanned the concerns of economic deci­ sion makers. Some feared that the socialist rhetoric of the PQ would mean a staunch anti-business, anti-Anglophone govern­ ment. Those who saw a future of increasing regulation of busi­ ness and political instability wondered if their only option was to leave or to maintain a holding operation to protect their investments. One American scholar observed that Premier René Lévesque's speech to New York City businessmen at the Economic Club shortly after the election caused shock, as they 1

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Author details

May, Joseph