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A nordicity to articulate

Despite a surprisingly mild fall during which summer tenaciously stretched on, winter is upon us and will soon allow us to reconnect with most of the attributes that make Quebec a northern state. A Nordic nature that characterizes us, defines us and of which we share several values ​​with the Nordic countries of Europe that wish to collaborate more with Quebec and its companies.

Posted yesterday at 6:30 am

This week, the ambassadors of the Nordic countries that are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland were passing through the metropolis to hold a series of meetings there in order to make themselves known, present their priorities and hope to forge new alliances in a changing geopolitical context.

The ambassadors of these Nordic countries spoke with representatives of Montréal International, Investissement Québec, Mila –Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute–, the film and animation cluster, and participated in a debate session at Concordia University. In short, they immersed themselves in the culture and atmosphere of Quebec for two days.

I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with four of the ambassadors during a presentation at Montreal International in which the Danish ambassador was unable to participate due to health reasons.

What is the reason for this sudden but welcome interest in Quebec?

“We have developed a new strategy. The five of us work together, we know each other well. We know that we are small fish in a big ocean, but together we can better explain and defend our common problems”, says Roy Eriksson, Finnish ambassador to Canada, with a first sigh.

Urban Ahlin, Ambassador of Sweden, quickly goes on to clarify the intentions behind the approach of the group of Scandinavian countries.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Urban Ahlin, Swedish Ambassador to Canada

The world has changed. First it was COVID-19, then Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Before, we were able to outsource our production lines to China and other countries that are no longer reliable today. Now we are looking for reliable partners. Canada is one and so are we.

Urban Ahlin, Swedish Ambassador to Canada

“We have just seen how Europe has become dependent on Russian oil and gas. It was not a very smart strategy. With COVID-19, you saw in Canada how dependent you were on the outside for your vaccine supplies, we need to review our ways of doing things,” she continues.

The Nordic as a common core

The five Nordic countries are on a crusade in Canada to develop more partnerships to better address emerging issues.

“We have a long common history. People don’t know it, but for a long time Iceland has financed the fishing industry in Canada”, emphasizes Hlynur Gudjonsson, ambassador of Iceland.

The five countries want better collaboration with Canada and Quebec in everything related to the energy transition, the exploitation and processing of critical minerals, the electric vehicle battery manufacturing sector.

Norway and Iceland would like to develop partnerships in the seafood, cleantech, biomedical and maritime sectors.

“We would like to build icebreakers for Canada. We build 60% of the icebreakers in the world, both for the military and for the commercial sector, and they cost much less”, specifies Roy Eriksson, ambassador of Finland.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Roy Eriksson, Finnish Ambassador to Canada

Finland no longer wants to be dependent on China, we want to strengthen our supply chain by increasing our exchanges with you.

Roy Eriksson, Finnish Ambassador to Canada

The five ambassadors held similar meetings earlier this year in Manitoba, Yukon and Alberta.

Sweden, as we know, is the Nordic country with the largest economic footprint in Quebec, with its flagship companies such as Volvo, Nova Bus, ABB, Ericsson and even IKEA.

Finland continues with Winpak Packaging, video game developer Rovio, Kone elevators. Norway made a name for itself with the ill-fated establishment of Norsk Hydro in Bécancour, but like Quebec, the country relies on hydropower for more than 90% of its electricity needs.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Erik Furu, Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Canada

In addition, Quebec-based company Couche-Tard made its mark in Norway 10 years ago when it acquired Statoil Fuel & Retail’s network of 2,300 convenience stores and service stations for US$2.8 billion.

We want more of Quebec

“We export a lot to Canada, but we want to import more products from Quebec,” argues Urban Ahlin from Sweden. In particular, we want to establish alliances in the mining and forestry sectors. »

After the verifications, Quebec actually imports more than it exports to the countries of Northern Europe, that is, 782 million exports last year against 1.8 billion imports, with Quebec accumulating a trade deficit of more than 1 billion .


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Hlynur Gudjonsson, Icelandic Ambassador to Canada

We are very close to Quebec and Canada. Not only because of the temperature, but also because of the way of life. We are much closer to you than to the United States.

Hlynur Gudjonsson, Icelandic Ambassador to Canada

And everyone at the table agrees on one thing, in addition to sharing a nearly common border with the Arctic, the Nordic countries and Canada share a common value and cardinal passion: hockey.

“Today, it is more of a common feature with Sweden and Finland,” says the Swedish ambassador.

« Je vous rappelle que neuf des joueurs de l’équipe des Falcons de Winnipeg, que a rerésenté le Canada aux Jeux olympiques de 1920 en Belgique, étaient Icelandais et qu’ils ont permis au Canada de reporter la médaille d’or de l ‘history [du hockey aux Jeux olympiques] “replies quickly and proudly Hlynur Gudjonsson, Ambassador of Iceland.

In fact, hockey is and remains a powerful cement of the Nordic.

Correction: In an earlier version of the text, comments by Roy Eriksson, Ambassador of Finland to Canada, were incorrectly attributed to Erik Furu, Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Canada.


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