The Libreville Conference and Federalism in Canadian Foreign Relations
From: 1968 in Canada
In February 1968, Quebec’s Minister of Education, Jean-Guy Cardinal, attended the meeting of francophone ministers of education in Libreville, Gabon. After almost a decade of disagreements between Ottawa and the government in Quebec City over Quebec’s interest in conducting its own foreign relations, Cardinal’s participation in this international conference represented the opening shot of the “Guerre des drapeaux” during which the two governments competed for support for their positions from French-African statesmen and governments. This chapter examines Quebec’s participation in the Libreville Conference within the context of the Canada-Quebec dispute over their respective responsibilities for foreign affairs in the 1960s. It discusses the legacy of Libreville on Canada-Quebec relations, on the international engagement of Canada’s provinces
more broadly, and on the evolution of Canadian federalism over subsequent
decades. The broader goal is to provide insight into the future of federalism in the context of sub-national group efforts toward autonomous foreign policies.
Robin S. Gendron and David Edward Tabachnick
Robin S. Gendron is Professor in the Department of History at Nipissing University. His research and teaching focuses on Canada’s international history, with an emphasis on Canada’s relations with France and French-speaking countries and the international activities of Canadian businesses. He is the author of Towards a Francophone Community: Canada’s Relations with France and French Africa, 1945–1968 and is writing a manuscript on Canadian mining interests in New Caledonia in the late twentieth century.