In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009

By Greg Donaghy; Michael K. Carroll | Go to book overview

7
ADVANCING THE NATIONAL
INTEREST: MARCEL
CADIEUX, JULES LEGER, AND
CANADIAN PARTICIPATION
IN THE FRANCOPHONE
COMMUNITY, 1964–1972

Robin S. Gendron

When, in late 1965, Presidents Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia and Léopold Senghor of Senegal proposed the creation of an international organization for French-speaking states, they unwittingly created a problem for the Canadian government and the Department of External Affairs. In their initial conception of this organization, neither Bourguiba nor Senghor anticipated, nor wanted, Canada’s participation. What they envisaged instead was a modest organization that would enhance the ability of Frenchspeaking countries in Africa to preserve their shared linguistic and cultural heritage.1 Over succeeding months, however, their proposal attracted supporters who not only embraced the idea but also broadened it. In Canada, this development compelled the government and the Department of External Affairs to consider what role Canada should play in the emerging community of French-speaking states; a question complicated by Canada’s difficult relations with France in this period, as well as the challenges faced from the government of Quebec, which asserted the right to its own international personality and to conduct its own international relations.

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