Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Receives TAU President’s Award
Tel Aviv University awarded the 2017 President's Award to Quebec Premier, the Honourable Philippe Couillard, during his economic mission to Israel, the first by an incumbent head of the French-speaking Canadian province.
The prize was awarded in recognition of Couillard for his significant efforts to strengthen the standing of the Province of Quebec within the global community, particularly through deepening bilateral ties with Tel Aviv and Israel, his friendship toward the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and more.
During the ceremony, TAU President Joseph Klafter thanked Couillard for his historic visit, saying that it was a sign of “meaningful, genuine friendship.” Prof. Klafter drew many similarities between Israel and Quebec. “We are both forward-looking societies built largely on the contributions of immigrants. We both combine respect for national and cultural heritage with a commitment to multiculturalism, democracy and civil liberties.”
Couillard, upon accepting the President’s Award, also highlighted commonalities between Israel and Quebec: “They are both minorities in their regions, and their populations and GDPs are similar in size,” he said. He alternated between English and French throughout his speech.
Premier Couillard articulated at length why he was impressed by Israel: Its history, its entrepreneurial spirit and its “high level of universities.” He said that Quebeckers could learn a lot from Israel, including the positive contribution of immigrants, who “ignited” the country’s economic success, and Israelis’ tenacity, which is responsible for their many successful start-ups.
The TAU President's Award is conferred every year on individuals who have worked to forge and strengthen ties with Israel and the Jewish people, and who have contributed significantly to their own societies and communities.
During the award ceremony, Prof. Klafter announced the establishment of an exchange program between TAU and Quebec institutions via the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Nature et Technologies (Quebec Research Fund – Nature and Technology) for female engineering and computer science students.
He also signed an MOU with McGill University Principal Suzanne Fortier, in which the two institutions renewed collaboration, including the expansion of student and faculty exchange programs and plans for further scientific collaboration.
The ceremony was held in the presence of Dominique Anglade, Quebec Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy; David Birnbaum, Quebec National Assembly Member for D'Arcy-McGee, Quebec Liberal Party; her Excellency Deborah Lyons, Canadian Ambassador to Israel; and Ziv Nevo Kulman, Consul General of Israel in Quebec and Atlantic Provinces.
Also in attendance were Judge Barbara Seal, National President of Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University (CFTAU) and Claire Dalfen and Sharon J. Fraenkel, President and Executive Director, respectively, of CFTAU for Ottawa, Quebec and Atlantic Canada as well as members of the Quebec mission and researchers from McGill University.