Thèse de doctorat en Sc sociales
Soutenue le 30-11-2016
Le président du jury était Jean-Michel Lacroix.
Le Québec est l’un des États fédérés les plus actifs en relations internationales. Toutefois, l’étude de ses activités extérieures présente tout de même une certaine atonie. Disciplinairement écartées, analytiquement restreintes «[l]es relations internationales du Québec ont été étudiées comme un sous-produit des relations internationales ». On peut alors imaginer, sur la base de cette affirmation du professeur Luc Bernier, l’attention portée, par la communauté scientifique, sur la nature de ces activités. Ce «sujet n’a été qu’exploré, particulièrement dans sa dimension théorique », écrivait la ministre Louise Beaudoin. En effet, il est rarement question, dans la littérature, d’exploration de la substance de cette activité québécoise. Rares sont les chercheurs qui ont approfondi rigoureusement ce sujet. Quelle interprétation peut-on donner à cette activité internationale québécoise ? Quels sont le contenu, la texture et la nature de cet objet ? Comment définir celui-ci ? Quels sont les repères théoriques et conceptuels pour baliser scientifiquement les relations extérieures du Québec ? Dans un contexte de scientificité, il est particulièrement «légitime de s’interroger sur la teneur et la nature de cette action » québécoise.
What foreign policy? A critical study of Quebec's international relations
In matters of international relations, Quebec is one of the most active federated states. Nevertheless, the study of its external activities suffers from atony. Disciplinarily divergent and analytically restricted, “Quebec’s international relations were studied as a by-product of international relations ». Based on this quote from Professor Luc Bernier, we can imagine the limited consideration that the scientific community gave to the nature of those activities. As written by Minister Louise Beaudoin, “This subject was only explored, especially in its theoretical dimension ”. In fact, the exploration of the substance of those activities was rarely discussed in literature. There are very few researchers that rigorously wrote on the subject. Which interpretation may be given to Quebec’s international activities? What is the content, the texture and the nature of this object? How can we define it? What are the theoretical and conceptual landmarks to scientifically circumscribe Quebec’s external relations? In a context of scientificness, it is especially “legitimate to question ourselves on the content and the nature of this action » from Quebec. A literature review quickly reveals that it is generally accepted to describe this activity as “foreign policy”. If analysts diverge as to when Quebec’s foreign policy took form, many subject matter experts support the idea that Quebec was able to adopt such a tool. This foreign policy is usually mentioned and taken for granted both from the researcher and the decision maker. Its ontological foundations are rarely questioned. Since Quebec foreign relations were considered as an object of study , it is almost impossible to count the number of books, articles, publications and ministerial statements that are using this wording of external or foreign policy. As such, it has become part of the usual vocabulary of the discipline. Sometime used for the sake of easiness or convention and sometime selected as part of an informed epistemological choice, this question of Quebec’s foreign policy appears nowadays as “institutionally” established since it is rarely investigated and for all practical purpose never questioned. Even authors using different notions such as paradiplomacy to name Quebec’s international activities will also consider it as a foreign policy . At the same time, the increasingly rare researchers that still support the idea that foreign policy cannot be applied to Quebec’s international reality are not investigating the nature of this activity…The relevance of this thesis is precisely that it examines this topic. As such, in a scientific paradigm it is especially important to ask the following; does Quebec have a foreign policy? Considering the increasingly common thesis that a sovereign state, on the basis of the transmutation of the international system, is “no longer the sole protagonist of foreign policy” and that in consequence “external policy is no longer conducted solely at state level », namely the “materiality” of foreign policy outside of a nation-state , the question of the existence of a “foreign policy for Quebec” could seem quite simple at first glance, supporting the idea that such a tool is deployed by the province of Quebec. Nevertheless, this answer is more complex and delicate than what could be gathered from a cursory glance. It resides in the definition that we give to the concept of « foreign policy » as well as within the operationalization of this notion to Quebec’s international reality. Only this exercise will definitely enable us to support or reject the existence of Quebec’s foreign policy. The objective of this study is precisely to review Quebec’s foreign policy in light of the ontological parameters of this notion of external policy, in order to know if it complies with Quebec’s international reality. The question can be framed as follow; at which conditions can Quebec have a foreign policy?