The delegate representing the Canadian province of Quebec’s trade and investment interests in the Southeast U.S. is departing after three years in Atlanta.
Donald Leblanc leaves behind a permanent team that continues to advance the province’s trade interests, from the aerospace and aluminum industries to tech sectors like financial technology and smart cities.
“For the last full year (2019), new heights were reached in trade between Quebec and the southeastern United States, signs of an increasingly deep integration of our economies and the complementarity of our sectors of excellence,” Mr. Leblanc said in an “au revoir” letter to friends and colleagues.
Mr. Leblanc’s departure on Sept. 25 was determined before the pandemic but comes after months of splitting time between Atlanta and Quebec after moving initially to a remote working model, with his local staff delivering services from their homes.
It also comes just after Canadian Consul General Nadia Theodore left the city (and the country’s diplomatic corps) for the private sector. With these changes, the Canadian presence in Atlanta will look very different this fall at the top.
In addition to continuing to deepen the already strong relationships between Quebec and Georgia, Mr. Leblanc’s tenure coincided with the province’s first hosting of the SEUS-CP Alliance conference since it was founded there more than 12 years ago. The event, an annual business conclave that alternates between the seven Canadian provinces and six Southeastern states, focused on smart mobility.
He spent the final month of his time in the 42-year-old Atlanta office advocating alongside other Quebec trade reps and Canadian officials (ultimately successfully) for the removal of U.S. tariffs on Canadian primary aluminum, which hit Quebec particularly hard.
With July came the implementation of the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, the successor to NAFTA — another highlight of a term that overlapped with a turbulent period in U.S.-Canada trade.
In August, Quebec and Georgia deepened their relationship further as the state’s Canada office moved to Montreal, giving the province a chance to return the welcome the Mr. Leblanc said he has received in Georgia.
“From the start of my mandate, I was delighted to note the spontaneous openness and genuine interest you have shown in Quebec and in me as a new Delegate,” he wrote in the letter. “I have discovered through you what Southern Hospitality really means, and you have without hesitation introduced me to your organizations and networks. Rest assured that I am extremely grateful to you.”
Mr. Leblanc also took the opportunity to promote the North American Rebound, an initiative bringing together economic development agencies to encourage U.S.-Canada collaboration on the production of protective gear and medical supplies while eyeing opportunities to spur more activity to drive mutual recovery following the COVID-19-induced downturns. Read: Quebec Firm Grows Medical Mask Factory in Georgia Even as It Expands Globally
Mr. Leblanc’s next assignment will be at the international relations ministry’s headquarters in Quebec City, the provincial capital.
His successor has not yet been announced; in the meantime, Mr. Leblanc pointed inquiries to Eric Marquis, assistant deputy minister for bilateral relations, who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Quebec Government Office in Atlanta.
Longtime trade attaches Yoann Turquetil, Virginia Rand-Hill and Charline Kempter continue to handle business-related inquiries. Contact them here.