April 15, 2010
The event was organized by the newspaper, in co-operation with the Institut du Nouveau Monde. Some 250 people turned out to hear Yvon Bolduc, President and CEO of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Bernard Landry, Professor at UQAM and at the École Polytechnique and former Quebec Premier, Nancy Neamtan, President and CEO of the Chantier de l'économie sociale, and Charles Sirois, Chair of the Board and CEO of Telesystem and Enablis Entrepreneurial Network, Chair of the Board of the CIBC and founding partner of the Tandem Expansion Fund. The four panellists discussed Quebec’s economic history over the past century, with particular attention to the past 50 years and the challenges awaiting us.
Moderator Michel Venne, founder and Executive Director of the Institute and former editorialist and news director with Le Devoir, asked these witnesses to history and economic players what they considered to have been the most important events.
Yvon Bolduc chose the creation of the Quebec Department of Education, along with Quebeckers’ realization of their potential, and the establishment of the Caisse de dépôt et placement, which allowed a Quebec-based economy to emerge. Bernard Landry picked the founding of the École des Hautes Études Commerciales, in 1907, and the nationalization of hydroelectricity. Nancy Neamtan also emphasized the importance of public control over this energy resource and mentioned how the economy had regained speed after weathering the crisis in the early 1980s. Charles Sirois spoke about the creation of the Université du Québec system and how it had made university studies more universally accessible, particularly in the regions, and the stock savings plan that supported the development of a true entrepreneurial class, known as Québec Inc.
Looking forward, the speakers mentioned the creativity economy (the next step after the knowledge economy, according to Mr. Sirois), the local economy and sustainable development, among the emerging paradigms.
Le Devoir columnist Jean-Robert Sansfaçon was responsible for summing up the roundtable’s conclusions, and emphasized that the driving events in Quebec’s economic history have almost all been attributable to government action, a particularity of the Quebec model.
A video of the event can be seen online, at www.inm.qc.ca/100-ans-de-developpement-economique-au-quebec.html.