How did the regional government as an institution in France move from a relatively small role on the verge of limited autonomy to an increasingly assertive leadership role with respect to the development of regions and territories? Our lecturer’s expertise makes him the ideal person to explain how the governance of regions and territories in France is changing, and how this is different and similar to what happens elsewhere in Europe and Quebec.
Watching a documentary produced specifically for this forum will allow us to discuss the vision that different young people in Quebec have of their region or territory, the hopes they have for them and the regional and territorial developmental challenges with which they are confronted. The producer and director of the documentary and some of the young people interviewed in it will then join us to discuss what we have seen.
The political governance of regions and territories is a topic that we will tackle from four different viewpoints. The first is from Switzerland and consists of an analysis of the importance of decentralization in the economic and social development of European regions. The second and third viewpoints express two different but not necessarily opposing visions that we may have of the political governance of the Quebec regions in the 21st century. Finally, the fourth viewpoint is from New Brunswick and shows what a provincial government can do, even when not decentralized, to better serve its regions.
We have chosen to tackle this subject by looking at the development of SMEs in general, and specifically their capacity to export. This approach to regional and territorial economic development will allow us to address these issues from an international perspective, in order to fully take stock of ambitions for each of our regions.
Digital technology is to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th. How fitting, then, to hear someone who was instrumental to Hydro-Québec's development in its heyday talk about possible solutions for high-speed internet accessibility across Quebec.
The cultural development of the regions and their ever greater integration into the French-speaking world is a vast subject that not only relates to our future in the international world of the 21st century but also to our past as explorers of the new world and expert coureurs des bois who are open to meeting others and mixing races and cultures. Our plenary will leave time for a talk on future prospects for the social and cultural development of the regions made possible by the internet and the digital revolution.
This plenary will enable us to draw a portrait of the most interesting developments currently taking place in the different regions and territories of Quebec in terms of innovative entrepreneurship, and the wish of these regions to work more closely together in the future. You will hear about what is being done in Gaspé, Lac-Mégantic, Magog, Saguenay, Shawinigan and Schefferville, in either French or Inu, in the digital, alternative energy, geomatics and innovative transport sectors.
We will conclude our forum by examining the full potential of open and participatory democracy made possible by digital technology and increased digital literacy in our regions and territories. To do this, we have invited two of the founders of the Francophone international group, Démocratie Ouverte, to come and talk to us about this ideal of Territoires Hautement Citoyens in which they believe.