Dubie heads delegation to strengthen ties with Quebec

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(Host) Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie is heading a delegation of Vermont officials in an effort to expand the relationship between Vermont and Quebec. The group hopes to develop stronger economic, cultural and environmental ties with the province.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) In the early weeks of his administration, Governor Jim Douglas asked Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie to take on a new job. Douglas wanted Dubie to serve as Vermont’s ambassador to Quebec, to see if there were ways to strengthen the relationship between the state and the province. Dubie quickly accepted the new job and during the legislative session, the lieutenant governor made several trips to Canada.

This week Dubie has taken virtually of all Douglas’ cabinet secretaries with him to meet with their counterparts in Quebec City. They’re laying the groundwork for a series of agreements that will be signed in Vermont next month when Quebec Premier Jean Charest visits the state.

Dubie says the governor asked him to explore ways that the state could develop closer ties with Quebec:

(Dubie) “It’s a formal hello from one state to a neighbor. Others may have a clear end game in mind. Certainly we would like to expand educational exchanges and to maybe look at energy if there’s any way that we could help lower energy costs for Vermonters, expand our trade – all those things come to mind. Increase our tourism in our region, there’s a myriad of things that could happen with expanding our relationship with Quebec.”

(Kinzel) Dubie is hoping that some specific formal proposals will be signed when Charest comes to Vermont in about four weeks:

(Dubie) “We have a homeland security agreement that is being reviewed by the prime minister of Quebec, Governor Douglas has already reviewed it. We have a Lake Champlain agreement that talks about trying to be good stewards for our lake and Governor Pataki and Governor Douglas have signed it, but the Quebec premier has not signed it. Lake Champlain, as you kno, is an international body of water. The Canadians have big concerns with Mississquoi Bay, for instance.”

(Kinzel) Dubie also wants to find out if there’s a way to bring wind powered electricity from Quebec to Vermont:

(Dubie) “They really see wind energy as a huge growth area for them. A lot of Vermonters think that for HydroQuebec it’s all about hydro power. Well it’s not. They have a huge wind asset in the Gasbay and they really see their growth in wind power.”

(Kinzel) Dubie says it makes sense to expand economic programs with Quebec because the province is currently Vermont’s largest trading partner.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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