Canada’s involvement

Background

Canada has actively participated in the creation and development of La Francophonie institutions. The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie [Academic Agency of La Francophonie] (AUF) was founded in 1961 under the leadership of a Canadian, Jean-Marc Léger. In 1979, the mayors of Paris and the city of Québec led the initiative to create the Association internationale des maires francophones [International Association of Francophone Mayors] (AIMF) (in French).

Canada was also one of the founding members of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique [the cultural and technical cooperation agency], created in Niamey in 1970, which later became the Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie [the intergovernmental agency of La Francophonie], then, in 2005 the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), the centre of La Francophonie’s institutional system.

Over the years, Canada has encouraged La Francophonie to become more engaged by defending the respect of democratic values and human rights and addressing difficult political issues. With the adoption of the Bamako declaration (2000) (PDF) (in French only) and the Saint-Boniface declaration (2006) (PDF) (in French only), the OIF has acquired mechanisms that enable it to respond to various types of crises within the Francophone world.

Canada has also supported the institutional reforms implemented to increase the efficiency, consistency and outcomes of La Francophonie policies and programs. Under former Secretary General Abdou Diouf (2003-2014), the OIF became a modern, credible and effective multilateral organization, as well as an influential actor in international relations.

During the 15th edition of the La Francophonie Summit in Dakar, 2014, Canada contributed to the appointment of Canadian Michaëlle Jean as Secretary General of La Francophonie, in addition of promoting several of its foreign policy and development priorities. Canada notably permitted the adoption of a resolution on maternal, newborn and child health.

Canada also contributed, along with the other states and governments of La Francophonie, to the development of other strategic documents adopted at the Dakar Summit in 2014: the Cadre stratégique de la Francophonie 2015-2022 [2015-2022 Strategic Framework for La Francophonie] (PDF) (in French only), which lead to the 2015-2018 quadrennial programming and the Stratégie jeunesse 2015-2022 [2015-2022 Youth Strategy] (PDF) (in French only). The purpose of this strategic framework is to focus La Francophonie’s actions in the coming years on four overall objectives:

  1. Increase the international influence of French and develop the use of the language;
  2. Strengthen La Francophonie’s role and place on the world stage to improve multilateralism and global governance;
  3. Strengthen the role of women and youth as agents for peace and development;
  4. Support innovation and creativity to serve the economy within a context of sustainable development.

Activities

With La Francophonie’s political and cooperation mandates now well consolidated, Canada, like several other states and governments, looks to strengthen its economic dimension. Since preparations for the 14th Summit of La Francophonie in Kinshasa, 2012, Canada has played a major role in efforts to provide La Francophonie with an economic strategy. Canada indeed contributed to the development, promotion and adoption of an economic strategy for La Francophonie at the Dakar Summit in 2014. It then led the way in helping to implement the strategy, becoming the first member country to commit to a significant, one-time contribution to help the OIF to achieve its objectives. This contribution of over $10 million is being disbursed between 2015 and 2017 towards an OIF program aiming to support “Employment Promotion through Entrepreneurship among Women and Youth in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Canada’s objectives within La Francophonie include the following:

  • Continuing to support the OIF’s political mandate by supporting the organization’s efforts to promote peace, democratic values, respect for human rights and good governance;
  • Helping to strengthen the OIF’s economic component, particularly by implementing the economic strategy for La Francophonie, in order to foster sustainable economic development in French-speaking communities;
  • Continuing to support institutional reform and efforts to modernize the management of the institutions of La Francophonie, so that Francophone cooperation will become even more effective and results-oriented; and
  • Providing international visibility for Canada’s Francophone communities.

In 2015-2016, Canada contributed some $43 million in statutory and voluntary contributions to the OIF and other institutions of La Francophonie, making Canada La Francophonie’s second-largest donor after France.

Of this amount, more than $28 million was directed to support the organization’s programming in its four greater missions:

  1. Promoting the French language, and cultural and linguistic diversity;
  2. Promoting peace, democracy and human rights;
  3. Supporting education, training, higher education and research;
  4. Strengthening cooperation for sustainable development, the economy and solidarity.

Between 2012 and 2014, through support from Canada and other donors, the OIF’s achievements included the following:

  • implementation and follow-up for the proper operation of a network of Maisons des savoirs [houses of knowledge] (MDS): one in Hue (Vietnam), one in Chisinau (Moldova), six in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and one in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo);
  • expansion of the digital dimension of Francophone projects and initiatives such as the Francophone Initiative for Teacher distance Training, digital education, and the emergence of electronic books;
  • expansion of the access to quality Francophone digital content, namely documents, archives, creative works, knowledge, and cultural heritage;
  • collaboration offered to states and national institutions in their efforts to promote the reform of constitutional and legal texts so that they comply with international standards. Technical help to strengthen the governance of public institutions was also offered;
  • support to the enhancement and reinforcement of the actions of national parliaments as part of a long-standing partnership with the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie [Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie];
  • support to the development process for the national report for each member states and its presentation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva at the request of states. In this context, between 2010 and 2014, the OIF provided its technical support to nine countries: Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Chad, Tunisia and Togo;
  • completion and distribution to the Francophone community of the Handbook for Journalists During Elections (in French), an unpublished guide produced with Reporters Without Borders (RWB) in 2011 and updated in 2015;
  • publication and diffusion by the OIF of a practical guide on the transition, justice, truth and reconciliation processes, officially presented in January 2014 at the United Nations headquarters in New York;
  • implementation of an integrated assistance strategy for the crisis exit and transition processes. This strategy is based on the political and technical expertise of the OIF and entails joint efforts and complementarity with its international and regional partners; and
  • provision by the OIF of Francophone mediation in order to create conditions to promote the signing of peace accords in certain countries, namely the Central African Republic (CAR), Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau. In most cases, the OIF supported the dialogue between stakeholders and the initiatives of national stakeholders and authorities, in cooperation with international partners, under the International Contact Groups (ICG) for Mali, Madagascar and the CAR.

Canada also makes statutory contributions to the Conférence des ministres de l’éducation des États et gouvernements de la Francophonie [Conference of Ministers of Education in countries sharing the French language] (CONFEMEN) and the French-Speaking World Conference of Ministers for Youth and Sports (CONFEJES), as well as voluntary contributions to the following operating agencies: the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the Association internationale des maires francophones, Université Senghor and TV5Monde.

Stakeholders

In La Francophonie, Canada is represented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; the Minister for International Development and Minister of La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau; and the Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for La Francophonie, Ambassador Philippe Beaulne.

 

Day-to-day responsibility for managing Canada’s participation in La Francophonie has been assigned to the Commonwealth and Francophonie Affairs Division of Global Affairs Canada’s International Organizations Bureau. This bureau coordinates all aspects of Canada’s participation in La Francophonie at the departmental and interdepartmental levels. It also manages the bulk of budget resources that Canada devotes to the OIF and its institutions. The funding available to the bureau responsible for La Francophonie is strictly intended for the support of La Francophonie institutions.

The Commonwealth and Francophonie Affairs Division works in close cooperation with the Personal Representative of the Prime Minister for La Francophonie (Sherpa) to prepare for and follow up on Summits and ministerial conferences. The Sherpa sits on the Permanent Council of La Francophonie, which facilitates, coordinates and referees political, economic and cooperative activities undertaken by La Francophonie’s institutions.

Canada’s presence in La Francophonie is also supported by a small team in Paris, led by the Counsellor (Francophonie Affairs). This Counsellor manages Canada’s relations with La Francophonie’s various Paris-based agencies. In addition to acting as the special liaison with the OIF, the Counsellor for Francophonie Affairs represents Canada on the Permanent Council’s various commissions (the policy commission, the economic commission, the aid and programming commission, the administrative and financial commission) and various working groups, including the ad hoc groups charged with preparing for the ministerial conferences and the Summits.

Global Affairs Canada’s partners in La Francophonie

As cooperation within La Francophonie has become increasingly specialized and multidisciplinary, Global Affairs Canada consults regularly with other federal departments on issues of the day. In addition to Canadian Heritage, which plays an essential role in La Francophonie, other departments provide their support, such as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (information technologies),  Justice Canada (democracy and legal cooperation), Environment and Climate Change Canada (sustainable development and environmental protection), Public Services and Procurement Canada (French language), and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The New Brunswick and Quebec provincial governments and the federal government work very well, both within La Francophonie’s agencies and on OIF commissions and working groups. Over the years, Quebec and New Brunswick have united their efforts to those of the Government of Canada to host several major events for La Francophonie, chaired by the Prime Minister of Canada: the Québec City Summits (1987 and 2008), the Moncton Summit (1999) and the first Forum mondial de la langue française [French-language world forum] in the city of Québec (2012). Quebec and New Brunswick became members of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (which became the OIF in 2005) in 1971 and 1977, respectively, and have seats separate from Canada’s in La Francophonie’s various institutions and in the operating agencies’ decision-making bodies. These seats are designated as “Canada-Quebec” and “Canada-New Brunswick.”

In the interest of all Canadians, Canada has always sought to involve all provinces and territories in its activities in La Francophonie. Traditionally, representatives from Canada’s other provinces and territories are invited to join the Canadian delegation during Summits. They may also be invited to take part in the activities of the operating agencies and organizations associated with La Francophonie.

Global Affairs Canada also maintains ties with several Canadian civil-society organizations that are active in La Francophonie, including organizations that represent French-Canadian minority communities as well as organizations that provide development assistance in La Francophonie countries. Several of these non-governmental organizations (NGOs) belong to NGO networks within the Francophone world that share common objectives or a specific professional purpose. The diversity of these organizations, as well as the many programmes and activities they undertake give to La Francophonie a multi-faceted dimension that allows its activities to go far beyond the government framework. Some Canadian organizations also belong to the Conférence des organisations internationals non gouvernementales de la Francophonie [network of non-governmental organizations of La Francophonie] (in French), which encompassed some 70 international civil-society organizations in 2016, that had proven expertise in one of the four OIF mandates. These organizations have an advisory role to the institutions of La Francophonie.

Host for La Francophonie Events

Canada has hosted La Francophonie Summits three times: in the city of Québec in 1987, in Moncton in 1999, and again in the city of Québec in 2008, the year marking the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.

Canada has hosted several Ministerial Conferences of La Francophonie, including:

  • the 24th Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie in the city of Québec in October 2008;
  • the Conférence ministérielle de la Francophonie sur la prévention des conflits et la sécurité humaine [Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie on conflict prevention and human security] in St. Boniface, Manitoba in May 2006; and
  • the first Conférence des ministres francophones chargés des inforoutes [conference of Francophone ministers responsible for the information highway] in Montréal in May 1997.

Canada also hosted the fourth edition of the Games of La Francophonie in Ottawa-Hull in July 2001. More recently, in July 2012, the city of Québec hosted the first Forum mondial de la langue française, and, in July 2014, the City of Ottawa hosted the 40th session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie.

Two institutions of La Francophonie are headquartered in Canada: the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) (in French) is located in Montréal and the Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD) [institute for sustainable development of La Francophonie] (in French), a subsidiary agency of the OIF, in the city of Québec.