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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Quebec award for Douglas

Gov. Jim Douglas is headed to Quebec Wednesday for meetings to improve bilateral relations between this state and its neighbor to the North.

The schedule was full, but now it includes a ceremony Thursday at the National Assembly during which Douglas will be given the highest honor awarded by the government of Quebec — the Ordre national du Québec or, in English, the National Order of Quebec.

The award, when given to foreigners, recognizes loyal friendship and efforts that help build respect for the province.

Douglas will receive the "Officer’s Insignia." Do we now call him Sir Jim?

Douglas started building ties with Quebec shortly after he was elected governor.

"Since we both took office in 2003, it has been a great pleasure to work with Premier Charest on issues of mutual importance," Douglas said, listing examples such as border security, a celebration of shared history, trade and environmental proteciton. "Working closely with our neighbors to the north is critical. Not only do Vermonters have friends and family in Quebec, they are our largest trading partner and many Quebec-based businesses employ Vermonters."

Douglas is bringing several Cabinet officials, business leaders and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie with him for meetings with their Quebec counterparts. Topics for the talks include how to promote local food products in the region, green energy and trade.

Also during the visit, officials will sign two agreements. One updates cooperation on cleaning up Lake Champlain and the other commits the state and province to work on food initiatives.

-- Nancy Remsen

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