Jean-Paul Baillargeon, editor - The Handing Down of Culture, Smaller Societies and Globalization

Chapter 13 | Michel de la Durantaye


According to Eric Kierans (1978), from 1945 on, Canada’s National policy has used multinational and transnational firms which allowed Canada to become a satellite in an interdependent world economy. The result was that Canada, a free market, became more vulnerable to international cycles and more dependent on large corporations.

Québec found its solution to the problem of continental integration in the building up, thanks to the Québec government, of a structured and functional network of québécois institutions which integrated themselves with both Canadian and American networks. There is the emergence, here, of a model, originally under the control of the government, which integrated the Québec economy into the international market; there is a wide consensus about this model in Québec, among both workers and employers.

In any case, the Cultural Development Policy for Québec, launched under René Lévesque in 1978, and written partly under the influence of the late Fernand Dumont, took for granted that culture is first and foremost a way of living, a common creation. Culture is education and pedagogy (Government of Québec, 1978: 153). According to the White Paper, the three cornerstones of cultural policy are: ways of living, creation and education.

In their introduction to the White Paper on cultural policy for Québec, the authors mention that “every culture is characterized by diversity: diversity of classes, generations, minorities, regions.” They conclude their introduction by saying that henceforth States will try to use filters, by means of agreements, to confront the international flow of mass culture.

They quote Premier Daniel Johnson, who in February 1968, in a memorandum to a federal-provincial conference held in Ottawa, stated: “Only a language and a culture that are vibrant and alive, supported by strong social and political foundations and capable of genuine creativity can claim to be respected by other languages and other cultures” (idem, vol. 1: 31-32).

The authors of the Cultural Development Policy for Québec mention also that the first important action taken, in 1977, by the Ministry of Cultural Development, under Camille Laurin, was a White Paper on language policy, which became the famous Charter of the French Language or Bill 101. This approach, according to its 1978 authors, is more than traditional in Québec, it is central to its history.

3. municipal and regional cultural policies

It was provincial government policy which in 1992 determined Québec’s major orientations on cultural matters, especially those concerning local and regional municipalities, which deal with citizens’ access to, and participation in, cultural life. Those orientations were notably:

  1. to reinforce education and awareness of the arts and culture (Ministry of Cultural Affairs, 1992: 99);
  2. to promote access to arts and culture, the public library being an essential resource (idem: 107; Baillargeon, 1998);
  3. to facilitate the participation of citizens in artistic and cultural life, notably through cultural participation and volunteer activities (Ministry of Cultural Affairs, 1992: 116-117).

These orientations have had implications at the local and regional levels. It is in the context of chapters three and four of La politique culturelle de l’État du Québec that we can refer to a certain “municipalization” of culture in terms of responsibility for action in the lives of those who practice it: the local community and the region it belongs to.

Any cultural activity undertaken as leisure is always done somewhere. It is then normal that a certain availing of work, in the sense of a close by public territorial administration responsibility, has a full meaning. It can be found here usually as a municipal cultural policy.

In 2001, there were 85 municipalities (73 local and 12 regional) in Québec which had approved a cultural policy. These municipalities comprise the majority of Québec’s population; 33 other municipalities (15 local and 18 regional) were about to approve cultural policies. In the coming months or years, Québec will benefit from 118 local or regional cultural policies. This number is remarkable. I think that, both in the West and internationally, it is a major phenomenon.

Chapter 13, continued >


grubstreet books FreeCounter