Address by Minister Valcourt at La Francophonie’s Informal Ministerial Meeting on Major Political Transitions in the Francophonie

No. 2011/29 - New York City, New York - September 20, 2011

Check Against Delivery

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague, Ms. [Micheline] Calmy-Rey [Chair of the Francophonie Ministerial Conference], for spearheading this initiative, which goes to the heart of our organization’s mandate and the values that define it. This cooperation enables us to confirm our commitment to democracy, and to act on it, against a backdrop of urgency but also of great promise in the wake of the recent events in Egypt and Tunisia.

Canada would like to thank Secretary General [of the International Organization of La Francophonie] Abdou Diouf for his steadfast leadership and the respect he has shown for the democratic and constitutional rules of La Francophonie’s member states.

When democratic practices are threatened, there is a time for discreet negotiations, but there is also a time for strong public reminders of the values and principles, as expressed in Bamako and after, that are essential to La Francophonie’s identity and authority.

The preceding addresses given by Mr. Diouf’s Special Adviser [Ousmane Paye] and by our Egyptian and Tunisian colleagues were constructive openings to our debates.

The promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance is one of Canada’s priorities. Canada also places great importance on freedom of religion and conscience.

La Francophonie must continue to play a role in these areas, in line with its means and the potential value added that could result.

Our governments have responsibilities based on the commitments they have made during the Francophonie summits. Echoing exactly these commitments, Canada is proud to support Haiti in the areas of democracy, good governance and development, as demonstrated by our contribution of more than $1 billion from 2006 to 2012. For example, Canada finances initiatives that aim, among other things, to increase access to, and to reinforce, the judicial system in Haiti, as well as to support the different electoral processes.

We are greatly concerned by the country’s current political situation and the weakness of the rule of law. Our commitment to pursuing our efforts in Haiti calls for attaching greater importance from now on to political will, good governance and the rule of law. These are essential for achieving all our efforts: those of the Haitians as well as those of the international community.

In that regard, we strongly support the UN Secretary-General’s recent proposal to develop a rule-of-law compact in Haiti, to enable sustainable progress in the country’s reconstruction and development.

As host of the Francophonie Summit in 2012, Democratic Republic of Congo will be in the spotlight and will want to remember that, during this important period in its history, it fully and completely adhered to the principles of democracy and respect for human rights that unite La Francophonie.

La Francophonie can and must play a role, commensurate with its means and the value added of its actions, in the various phases of democratic transition. We must bear in mind that a regime change, even an election, are mere moments in the history of democracy.

Playing such a role requires effort and constant vigilance to ensure that the democratic process is transparent and inclusive, that accountability is effective, and that the rule of law is respected.

Furthermore, I am certain it comes as no surprise that many of the countries now experiencing solid and sustained growth are, in fact, those whose governments have adopted and applied the principles of sound economic and political governance.

There, too, La Francophonie has a role to play, and in this period of fragile economic recovery, Canada will want to seize every possible opportunity so that French-speaking communities can create or strengthen the economic ties that also must connect us.

I encourage our organization to continue its work in supporting the consolidation of the democratic transition processes that have recently begun in some countries of the Francophone world.

The role our organization can play will enhance its relevance and its credibility. And that, too, is something we can be proud of.

Thank you.