Jean-Paul Baillargeon, editor - The Handing Down of Culture, Smaller Societies and Globalization

13

The American Sphere of Influence,
the World Free Market and Municipal
and Regional Cultural Policies: the Québec Case

Michel de la Durantaye*

1. introduction

Some time after the Summit of the Americas, which was held in Québec City amid controversy and behind closed doors, it seems appropriate to talk about the handing down of culture and of cultural identity in the context of globalization.

The levels of governance that make up local municipalities, regional municipalities and urban communities, are geographically and socially a better location for interventions, being more efficient and better able to counteract damages to social cohesion, which are affecting our societies and our cities in particular.

Community identity and the perception of the quality of life at the local level are becoming more and more important. Cultural policies, in that context, are much more strategic, especially those devoted to localities and regions. Local governments being those nearest to their populations and to problems derived from the damage done to social cohesion, the municipal level has henceforth to be considered a strategic level of intervention.

On the other hand, as federal and provincial cultural policies contribute to asserting cultural identities at the macrosocial level in a context of globalization of cultural exchanges, local and regional cultural participation (with all the expectations, aspirations and cultural policies which lie behind them) contribute to asserting local identities. If the national or provincial cultural policies focus on macrosocial aspects of identity, they contribute little to the manifestation of local identity. Municipal cultural policies contribute to them.

As for culture, the relationship between the provincial level, which has constitutional responsibility (in Canada, local, municipal and regional governments are given their powers by the provincial government), and the municipal, local or regional levels did not develop suddenly. This relationship corresponds to the level of community and cultural development. This is why it must be examined in the broader context of society as a whole.

This new relationship should also be put in the context of a transfer of roles or functions from the state government to the local government. In Québec and in Canada, this devolution of powers from the higher levels of government to local and regional administrations can be exemplified, for example, by the Ryan reforms in education and the Trudel reform of municipalities. The transfer from the national to the local is increasingly accepted. The Earth Summit underlined, as early as 1992, that: “Local strategies and plans have proved far more successful in making a direct impact than those at the national level” (Kleberg, Ed. 1998).

I shall try to show that, when it comes to the handing down of culture, local and regional municipalities, especially in the context of serious municipal reorganization, are playing and can play, a not insignificant role. When one takes into account all the possible ways of handing down culture, the local and regional levels are better positioned than other levels, provincial, federal or international.

2. smaller political societies in the context of globalization
and their relationship with culture: the québec case

2.1 linguistic spaces: the french fact in america

Forty years ago, the first article of the political agenda of the Québec Liberal Party, put before the voters during the memorable general election of June 22nd, 1960, an election which symbolizes the beginning of the Quiet Revolution, was entitled: Creation of a Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Chapter 13, continued >

  


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