I AM pleased to be with you once again to celebrate La Journee Internationale de la Francophonie.
This day is first and foremost an opportunity to take pride in celebrating one of the fundamental elements of our national identity: the French language and culture.
We have 7 million French Canadians in Canada, and hundreds of thousands of other Canadians who are learning French so that they can play a full part in la francophonie of our country. Today is, therefore, an excellent opportunity to celebrate the wealth and diversity of Canada's francophone communities, communities that have retained their special character through their history, and the manner in which they have chosen to live and flourish in different environments and circumstances. So today I believe that we should give a special thought to the men and women who have worked hard to build Canada's French- language communities. We have ensured that the promotion of the French language, which is a fundamental element of Canada's identity, is no longer the responsibility of a single department but, rather, a responsibility shared by all federal departments. In the cultural field, we have to continue to build on our very numerous successes. Over the years Canada has established institutions that have made a major contribution to the promotion of francophone culture, and the influence of that culture here and throughout the world. We have only to think of Radio-Canada or the Canada Council and organisations such as Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board. This shows what an asset la francophonie is to Canada. And its development is opening up an ever-expanding window on the world for Canadians. During this period of globalisation, a time when borders are opening, Canadian francophonie is a major strength for our country, linking us to the francophonie throughout the world. What is more, Canada was one of the first to associate itself with the international francophonie. In 1970 we were a founding member of the Cultural and Technical Co-operation Agency. We have since continued to play a primary role in the organisation. More recently, we supported efforts to give the international francophonie a wider political mandate. …