By Ian C. Robertson
Western will be the centre of the universe this weekend as a major international symposium discussing the political and economic impact of new regionalism convenes on campus.
Entitled, "The New Regionalism: Global Challenges and Local Responses," the symposium will discuss regional development, labour market issues, agriculture and cross-border initiatives in Ontario and the Aquitaine region of France, said Michael Keating, political science professor at Western and symposium program chair.
The 1997 Aquitaine-Ontario Symposium will draw participants from both Ontario and France including top government officials, said Kelly Sterritt, executive assistant to the director of international research at Research Western.
Sterritt explained the symposium will convene at Windermere Manor on Oct. 17, where delegates will be welcomed at the opening session by Dianne Cunningham, provincial Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues.
Initially it was anticipated that former Education Minister John Snobelen and Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister William Saunderson would attend but due to the recent cabinet shuffle it is unlikely, Keating said.
The French delegation will be headed by Pierre-Jean Vandoorne, Consul-General of France in Toronto and Jean Arriau, president of the Commission on International Relations for the Regional Council of Aquitaine, Keating said.
Whereas last year's symposium, held in France, focused on the scientific and technical experiences of the two regions, Keating said the shift to economic and political concerns is attributed to the growing interest in NAFTA and the European Union.
"Free trade and global markets are changing the way countries in both Europe and North America do business," he said. "The world is becoming more international, but at the same time, regional economies and regional politics are growing in importance."
Fred Keenan, director of the office of international research at Research Western, said he was delighted with the second meeting as it shows the partnership between the two regions is growing as hoped after last year's symposium.
Keenan attributes the selection of Western as host to the second annual conference to President Davenports' leadership and initiative. Davenport was a keynote speaker at last year's event and worked hard to develop relationships with the French delegation, Keenan said.
Sterritt said 10 well-known speakers are on the symposium agenda, including Canadians John McCallum from the Royal Bank of Canada, Thomas Courchene from Queen's University, Stephen Clarkson from the University of Toronto and Western's Michael Keating. Allen Scott from the University of California at Los Angeles will also be presenting a paper.