Quebec Studies, No. 17, 1994
QUeBEC AND FOREIGN POLICY:
OVERSEAS OPTIONS FOR A PROVINCE IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM
by Gregory S . Muhler
This article involves Quebecâ€™s foreign policy and the relationship of
that policy to Quebecâ€™s role in the Canadian federal system. One of the most
frequent themes of studies of Canadian federalism involves the tensions
which exist between Ottawa and several provinces (most notably Quebec,
although other provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario
have also been discussed) in respect to policy jurisdiction in a number of different areas, including foreign policy.
This article seeks to expand upon these earlier studies by examining
the evolution and the general nature of Quebecâ€™s foreign policy. Although the
bulk of Quebecâ€™s international activities are conducted through educational
and cultural programs, Quebec has consistently asserted its right to a broad
range of foreign policy activities.
Thus, the goal of this paper is to fill what can be perceived to be a
lacuna in the literature. There is a great deal of material which focuses upon
the federal dimension of the issue-what overseas activities a province can or
should undertake if it operates within a federal system, and how that international activity will affect the federal balance of power-but there is not a
great deal of material on the development of provincial foreign policy itself.
How has Quebecâ€™s foreign policy developed over the years?What is its general
foreign perspective today? What will be the general parameters of its foreign
policy in the future?These are all questions that will be addressed here.
I. The Canadian Foreign Policy Setting
A. Federalism and Foreign Policy
Not only is the federal government of Canada active in foreign aid
programs of many different kinds, but so too are the provinces. This makes
any study of federal or provincial foreign policy quite complex. One scholar
has noted that
N o other federation has had as much cause as Canada to feel threatened in
its international relations by the activities abroad of its constituent
provinces. N o other federation does as much to assist its provinces in their