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Friday March 10, 2006
Quebec and Ottawa are close to an agreement that will
allow the province to have a voice at UNESCO, Prime
Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday in emphasizing his
government's "open federalism" policy toward Quebec.

For the first time in 22 years, a Canadian prime minister
met with a Quebec premier at the National Assembly in
what Premier Jean Charest dubbed the beginning of a new
era of federal-provincial co-operation. It was the third
face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Mr.
Harper's government was sworn in.

An agreement on the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization carries great symbolic meaning
for the Quebec government in its bid to prove that Mr.
Harper's proposals for renewing federalism can work in the
province's favour.

"Mr. Charest and I have agreed to task our respective
ministers to move forward on ensuring that Quebec's voice
be heard at UNESCO," Mr. Harper said at the conclusion
of a two-hour meeting. "There are a couple of proposals on
the table. And as I say, we are flexible and very optimistic
we are going to reach a solution sooner rather than later."
Dawn of a new era?
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