Canada and France: beyond a deep friendship, a shared ambition [fr]
Canada and France: beyond a deep friendship, a shared ambition
With an innovative and diverse Canada on one hand and a creative and attractive France on the other, relations are "tightly knit". This is, of course, nothing new. This year, our two countries celebrate their granite anniversary: 90 years of diplomatic relations. That is solid! It has been some time since we moved beyond the simple stage of friendship. The Franco-Canadian partnership - like our heads of state and government - has never been stronger than today. And with good reason as, beyond the real connection between our people, based on a common language and a common history, we share and defend the same values that bind our two countries.
This was already true in 1917 on Vimy Ridge when Canada defended freedom and democracy in the trenches alongside France. Or in 1945, landing with the Allies on the Beaches of Normandy. It is just as important today.
Let’s be honest. Fewer and fewer people believe in multilateralism and respect for the rule of law; fewer and fewer also celebrate international exchanges, treasure openness towards others and prioritize equal opportunity.
We are again at a crossroad of history, at a time when we must reaffirm, and even defend, our progressive view of the world. We share the same idea that the ambition we carry for each of our countries is an ambition greater than ourselves. The strength of our relationship must be used to serve the world, the common good and the common interest. Herein lies our strength, at the very heart of our relationship. And we are ready to proclaim it loud and clear.
2018 and 2019 have been and will be years of opportunity: in a few days, Canada will pass the baton of the G7’s presidency to France. The past twelve months have been marked by three visits - the Prime Minister of Canada’s visits to Paris in April and November and the President of France’s visit to Canada in June - not to mention the Charlevoix summit. Enough to keep the flame of the Franco-Canadian relationship burning strong! Enough to strengthen an already well-filled bilateral track record, whether it be the environment and biodiversity, cultural relations, the economy, the Francophonie, innovation or gender equality.
Let’s consider this last point. In 2018, Canada, which supports a feminist policy, particularly on the world stage, created the Advisory Council on Gender Equality for the G7 countries, because our countries share the conviction that this is a major challenge reaching far beyond our own borders. This same logic explains our enhanced cooperation in artificial intelligence or the fight against climate change, extending again well beyond national frameworks.
Needless to say, this connection between our two countries is forged, on a daily basis, by our business leaders, our artists, our researchers, our students, our expatriates. So many communities that have never been so strong on both sides of the Atlantic. As is our commercial trade, which has increased by 10% since the provisional application of the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA) a year ago. But, just like an old couple celebrating their 90 years of marriage, we also know that we can always do better, aim higher. We celebrate our ’’granite’’ anniversary, but nothing is ever set in stone...
In no way can we afford to rest on our laurels. The opportunities to bring our two countries, France and Canada, closer together are numerous. France trades goods and services with Canada worth up to 10 billion euros. For their part, Canadian companies also count on France with 250 subsidiaries located in the country and employing more than 28,000 people. And yet, the annual bilateral trade between France and Canada does not do justice to the connections that unite us. There is in fact much leeway. Another example: we are very proud of the 500 university cooperation agreements already signed between us. However, while many French students choose Canadian universities through mobility exchanges, young Canadians are less likely to attend French institutions. These are challenges we are ready to take on.
We deeply believe in these vital forces and in the future generations who will shape the Franco-Canadian relationship of tomorrow. It is with them in mind that we carry this view of the world. We must remain ambitious for them. You can count on us to roll up our sleeves. If 90 is the age of wisdom, it is also the age of a second youth, full of promise.
(Opinion piece by French and Canadian Ambassadors on the Franco-Canadian special relationship)