April 21, 2024

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Israel | The Quebec office is “in no way” a position, Minister Perron defends

Israel |  The Quebec office is “in no way” a position, Minister Perron defends

(Montreal) International Relations and La Francophonie Minister Martin Peron has argued that the opening of a Quebec office in Tel Aviv is “in no way” a stance taken by the government on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The opening of the Quebec office in Tel Aviv, an announcement made before the start of the war, cannot in any way be interpreted as a position taken by Quebec,” the minister declared during a speech before the council on Friday. International Relations of Montreal (CORIM).

The opening of this diplomatic representation sparked lively debates in the National Assembly. In February, Québec solidaire (QS) filed two petitions with a total of 12,000 signatures against the opening of the office.

MP Haroun Bouazzi accused the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) of “complicity” in “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing”. However, the solidarity views were criticized by the Consultative Center for Jewish and Israeli Relations (CIJA).

The conflict has a strong emotional charge in Quebec, home to large Jewish and Palestinian communities. Members of the Jewish community have seen a rise in anti-Semitism, while critics of Israel say its military intervention violates international law and accuse Canada of turning a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians.

On Saturday, nearly 200 civil society organizations will hold a demonstration in Montreal to condemn the Israeli intervention.

In this conflict Mme Biron judges Quebec's position to be “equilibrium”. “I think we're all horrified to see what's happening, but we're horrified to know that there are still hostages being held by Hamas,” the minister commented at a press scrum after his presentation.

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He points out that the decision to open an office in Tel Aviv was made before the bloody Hamas attack on October 7, which led to Israel's military response.

Mme Biron emphasizes that the office is not just for relations with Israel, but with the entire Middle East. “It's really the gateway to the Middle East. Then, businesses are done in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, the Arab Emirates. It's not just Israel. »

The office plays primarily an economic rather than a diplomatic role, he said. “In fact, Quebec supports companies that want to do business abroad. Sure we have political connections, but in this case, what we want is to increase economic exchange. »

In this regard, he says, the Israeli economy has assets that work in its favor. Israel has a lot to offer, especially in cyber security and technology. »

In fact, M said that the Tel Aviv office is operated from Montreal for security reasons.me Byron. “Actually, if we could go there, the office would be at the Canadian embassy, ​​but right now we're working from Montreal. »

New “zero price” representations

Minister Biron used his speech to announce “zero cost” changes to various delegations and offices abroad.

Some dealerships will close or have their staff reduced, while others will succeed. Opening works are also underway.

Quebec will increase its diplomatic force in the United States, increasing its staff there by 20%. Offices in Washington and Miami will be upgraded to representative status. The minister also plans to establish a delegation in Seattle.

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“I need people in America,” he explains in the press scrum. We have security measures in place. »

Quebec plans to strengthen its presence in Mexico and Colombia, but the office in Havana, Cuba will be closed.

In Europe, the minister wants to open an office in Stockholm, Sweden. He points out that the projects in Seattle and Stockholm have not yet received the green light from the Cabinet and these are plans for now. When does she hope these offices will open? “I'd like to next year,” she replied.

The Legault government took the decision to close its office in Hong Kong after examining the structure of its operations in China. In total, Quebec's workforce in China will be cut by six.

Mme “Considering what happened during the epidemic, repression, etc., there are “less hands” to do business in China, Biron insists. “. He insists that Quebec's presence is “profitable” and that it is essential to maintain ties with the world's second-largest economy, which is technologically advanced, especially in terms of electric cars.

In Asia, Quebec wants to strengthen its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. The South Korea and Singapore offices will transition to General Representative status.

Despite the diplomatic chill between Canada and India, Quebec prefers autonomy in Mumbai. The Quebec office was located at the Canadian Embassy in Mumbai.

Canada has suspended in-person operations at its consulate in Mumbai following the killing of a Sikh activist in British Columbia. Ottawa blames India for the killing on Canadian soil, which New Delhi denies.

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Quebec wants to open its own offices in India. “This is an ongoing project. I have met the Indian ambassador in Montreal a few times. We are making progress on this issue. »