Cablegate: Quebec City 400th Anniversary

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

031736Z Nov 04



State for WHA/CAN; WHA/PDA - Mary Dean Conners

E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: CG and Embassy Minister Counselor for Public
Affairs met Oct 14-15 with federal, provincial and municipal
representatives involved with planning Quebec's 400th
Anniversary in 2008. Quebec Mayor L'Allier pushed for a visible
U.S. legacy in the form of a genealogy center, while Provincial
government representatives expressed strong reservations with
the Mayor's proposal, pointing out that it would cost the
Provincial government 40 million CND for infrastructure work
alone. CG and PAO indicated the limits of our ability to
provide major funding for a large-scale legacy project but that
we remained open to discussing ways in which we can support a
genealogy project that makes connections between the U.S. and
Quebec (and Canada more broadly). End summary.

2. (SBU) Quebec mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier, who is hoping the
U.S. will contribute to the creation of a genealogy center to
mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City in
2008, came well-prepared to his Oct. 14 meeting with CG and PAO.
L'Allier and his team handed us a project proposal complete
with maps and floor plans for a Genealogy and Heritage Center
that would be built in an 18th century building in Old Quebec
known as "The New Barracks." L'Allier underscored the
importance and history of US-Canada and US-Quebec ties and noted
that the 400th anniversary is an opportunity for the U.S. to
establish a visible presence (a "legacy") in Quebec, which is
currently lacking. L'Allier believes U.S. involvement is
appropriate, given that up to 15 million Americans have origins
in Quebec and that a large part of the U.S. is former New France

3. The following day, L'Allier organized a tour for us of the
Barracks, which will need considerable infrastructure repair and
renovation. L'Allier advisor Jacques Jobin, who accompanied us
on the tour, indicated the municipal government is confident
that the Provincial government will pay the 40 million CND cost
of rebuilding the outside of the building, a project which would
take about three years. There was no direct discussion of who
would cover the cost of the inside of the building, i.e.,
staffing, equipping and running the center itself, but it was
clear the municipal government is looking for others to foot
this part of the bill. (Comment: By the end of PAO's two-day
visit, it became apparent that the municipal government is
hoping the USG either covers these "inside the building" costs,
or assumes the burden of finding donors to do so. End Comment.)

4. (SBU) Our Oct. 15 meeting with Provincial government
officials revealed a difference of opinion between L'Allier's
office and the Provincial government. Sam Hamad, Charest's
Minister responsible for the Quebec capital region (also
Minister for Energy and Resources), and his team indicated to us
they were not pleased L'Allier was assuming the GoQ would
contribute 40 million CND for renovation of the New Barracks.
GoQ 400th anniversary Commissioner Raymond Lesage, who works for
Hamad, said there is a limited amount of Provincial money for
400th anniversary events. Every time money is spent on a
"legacy" project, it means less money for 400th anniversary

5. (SBU) Despite their irritation with L'Allier, Provincial
officials were careful not to flat out reject the genealogy
center project. They wanted to know how much the U.S. would be
willing to invest. PAO made clear that the USG does not have
large sums of money to devote to "legacy" projects such as
building a monument. We would probably be able to assist along
the lines of hosting a seminar or conference around the theme of
the Quebec roots of Americans.


6. Throughout the visit, CG and PAO gently but clearly
indicated the limits of our ability to provide major funding for
a large-scale legacy project. We also indicated that we remain
very open to discussing ways in which we can support a genealogy
project that makes connections between the U.S. and Quebec (and
Canada more broadly) through our shared immigrant experience.
We are similarly open to other ideas that would highlight our
shared "North American" experience. We will continue to explore
possibilities for USG/Mission contributions to the 400th
anniversary celebration through cultural and academic exchange

7. L'Allier's desire for a "legacy" investment from the USG is
part of his quite understandable effort as mayor to seize the
opportunity presented by the 400th to beautify his city. (The
"New Barracks" were to have been renovated several years ago to
make room for a branch of Laval University, but that project
fell through because of lack of funds.) We note that for the
300th anniversary, the only legacy project was the creation of
the Plains of Abraham Park by the Government of Canada. Foreign
governments were asked to participate in festivities and the
Vice President represented the U.S. at that celebration.

© Scoop Media

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