Address by Minister Paradis: The 29th Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie

November 7, 2013

Paris, France

I would like to thank the Secretary General [of La Francophonie, Abdou Diouf] for his complete and succinct update on political, diplomatic and economic issues within our organization.

This information gives a clear picture of just how important a player La Francophonie has become in international relations.

Canada applauds the Secretary General’s work over this past year.

Canada is proud to be a member of an organization that is now more structured, more transparent and more vigorous in applying its basic principles.

La Francophonie is a multilateral body that assumes full responsibility as a key stakeholder in the conduct of international relations. One that supports the strengthening of democratic principles, good governance and respect for human rights. One that includes gender equality and the protection of freedom of religion and conscience.

All of these are important Canadian values.

Canada strongly believes that economic development, trade and good governance are important drivers for the strengthening of democratic principles in the Francophone world.
We are pleased with the efforts being made to give La Francophonie a strong economic dimension.

Canada intends to focus in particular on sustainable economic development and on creation of more opportunities for developing countries, as well as on pursuing the objective of delivering concrete results that can help a larger number of people overcome poverty.

This will require innovation and openness to projects that bring together various partners, including the private sector.

Canada is also doing its part to strengthen La Francophonie’s economic dimension by negotiating free trade agreements and foreign investment promotion and protection agreements.

We are working toward expanding the circle of francophone countries with which we can align our trade and investment policies.

Over the coming year, we will have the enormous task of implementing the economic strategy our countries are working on at this time.

All members of La Francophone must play a role in this unprecedented mandate.

The discussions that ministers had on the margins of the last United Nations General Assembly were one of our organization’s highlights this year.

They were an opportunity to provide updates on crisis exit, peacebuilding and political transition situations throughout the francophone world.

In that same spirit, I would like to congratulate Mali on the important progress it has made and welcome the country back into our organization.

We are hopeful that the Malian authorities will take this opportunity to implement the values that unite us within La Francophonie.

I would also like to take this opportunity to condemn the assassination earlier this week of two French journalists in Mali and, on behalf of all Canadians, offer my sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and friends. Canada would also like to express its solidarity with the people of France and with their government. These heinous murders demonstrate the challenge that Mali’s government is facing and the need for the international community to join its efforts to fight terrorism.

We urge the Government of Mali to continue the efforts it is making to stem the tide of terrorism in the region and to do so in collaboration with the United Nations and its international partners.

Significant progress has also been made in Madagascar, where the Malagasy people exercised their democratic rights peacefully during the first round of the country’s presidential elections on October 25.

Despite the significant progress that has been made within La Francophonie, Canada remains extremely concerned about the situation in some of the organization’s member countries and countries that have been suspended.

For example, Canada is very worried about the evolution of the humanitarian and security crisis in the Central African Republic.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the devastating effects of this crisis, especially to the people’s living conditions and those of people in other countries in the region.

We are especially concerned about reports of violence against women, children and humanitarian workers, and the use of child soldiers.

We encourage all stakeholders to respect the commitments made to stabilize the country and to establish democratic institutions.

Canada also believes that the holding of free and transparent presidential and legislative elections is essential to consolidating democratic transition in Guinea-Bissau.

Canada approved the decision to suspend Guinea-Bissau from the organization after the military coup d’état, but could consider the country’s reinstatement once the democratic transition is complete.

We are still deeply concerned about the situation in Egypt and strongly believe in the implementation of a transparent democratic system that respects the voice of all Egyptians.

The situation in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo is still difficult, and we urge all signatories to the Addis Ababa framework agreement to establish a concrete action plan aimed at implementing sustainable regional cooperation.

Moreover, Canada continues to reaffirm its support for greater transparency in the governance of the extractives sector in all member countries of La Francophonie.

This includes responsible procurement in the artisanal mining sector and the fight against conflict minerals.

Efforts being made in the areas of certification and the promotion of responsible practices in the Great Lakes region—to which Canada contributes—are encouraging and must continue.

These commitments notably reflect the priorities that La Francophonie identified in the Kinshasa resolution in this regard.

In this context, we are pleased with the decision to add an economic dimension to La Francophonie at the Dakar summit.

I am convinced that this new strategy will allow us to consolidate La Francophonie’s achievements in sound resource management, while having a direct impact on:

  • the well-being of our populations;
  • the development of new markets;
  • job creation; and
  • economic cooperation among our member countries.

Canada will continue to support the International Organisation of La Francophonie’s modernization process and reforms to make it even more effective and focused on results.

We believe that the end of the 10-year strategic framework in 2014 is an excellent opportunity for us all to reflect on the organization’s purpose.

We have a solid foundation on which we can build the next strategic framework and new programming.

Canada intends to play an active role in the development of these documents.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate, on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that Canada applauds Senegal’s leadership in the organization of the Dakar summit.

Our Senegalese colleagues have already made significant progress in preparing for this summit, and I congratulate them.

I look forward to travelling to Dakar in a few days to give the Senegalese my support and to reiterate Canada’s support in organizing this international event.

The Dakar summit will be the ideal opportunity to discuss our organization’s exciting future.

Thank you.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie