Quebec Factor in CanadaFrance Relations

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-7-93-104

Yu. Akimov (,
St. Petersburg State University, entr. 8, 1/3, Smolnogo Str., St. Petersburg 191060, Russian Federation


The article deals with the impact of the “Quebec factor” on Canada–France bilateral relations. Since the Quiet Revolution (“Revolution Tranquille”), French Canadians have regarded Quebec provincial institutions as a tool to promote their specific national interests in Canada and abroad. In mid-1960s, Quebec established “special partnership” with France; at the same time, Paris started regarding French-speaking Canadian province as a privileged partner. It caused problems for the Canadian Federal Government which sought good relations with France and made all efforts to neutralize Quebec’s attempts to involve Paris in federal-provincial conflicts. The situation reached its peak during two Quebec referendums on Sovereignty (1980 and 1995). The main part of the paper focuses on the Canada–France relations in 2000–2015. It shows the change of traditional French position toward the Quebec independentist movement under Nicolas Sarkozy, who chose to neglect “ni-ni” formula and openly supported Canadian unity. It also analyses the reasons of this decision and stresses the role of close personal ties between Sarkozy and French Canadian multimillionaire Paul Desmarais, a powerful and uncompromising opponent of separatists. The paper shows the negative reaction on Sarkozy’s new approach in Quebec (and not only among separatists). It looks into the attitude of François Holland’s administration, which, on the one hand, returned to the “ni-ni” formula, but on the other hand, succeeded in establishing close relations with the Canadian Federal Government. It concludes that Quebec factor will continue to influence Canada–France relations despite the decline of the separatist movement, because Quebec will further develop its identity paradiplomacy thus stressing its specificity within the framework of the Canadian Federation.


Canada–France relations, Quebec, French Canadian national movement, minority nationalism, Quebec question, Quebec separatism, France’s Position, Quebec–France “special” relationship, triangle Paris–Ottawa–Quebec-city


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For citation:
Akimov Y. Quebec Factor in CanadaFrance Relations. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2018, vol. 62, No 7, pp. 93-104 .

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