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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

Statements & Hansard

International Day of La Francophonie

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Statement made on 25 March 2009 by Senator Maria Chaput

Hon. Maria Chaput:

Honourable senators, March 20, 2009 was the International Day of La Francophonie, a day when we celebrate both the vitality of the French language around the world and the anniversary of the founding of the international organization that promotes the French language: the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

On March 20, 1970, in Niamey, Niger, representatives of Canada and 20 other francophone states and governments signed the treaty that created the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, which has become the OIF.

The OIF consists of 56 member states and governments and 14 observers around the world that share French as a common language.

Spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide, French is the sole official language or one official language of 32 OIF member states and governments.

In Canada, French is an official language. It has equal status, equal rights and equal privileges, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Canada has more than 9 million French speakers, more than 9 million people who can communicate in the language of Molière.

In the early 17th century, French colonists began settling the land that would later become Canada. The first French colonists settled on St. Croix Island in New Brunswick, then in Port Royal, in what is known today as the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. With the founding of Quebec City in 1608, the French colonists began settling the shores of the St. Lawrence, first in small numbers, then in larger waves. Today, the city of Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.

These first French speakers in Canada gradually migrated west and north. Today, minority francophone communities can be found in every province and territory.

Over the years, these early French settlers were joined by francophones from all over the world — Lebanon, Haiti, the Central African Republic, Senegal, Cambodia, Belgium, Switzerland and elsewhere — who enriched and bolstered French Canadian culture.

More than 80 per cent of Canadians support national bilingualism. Moreover, increasing numbers of Canadians are learning French as a second language and see it as a cultural, social and economic asset. Canadians are right to see their French language, a language bequeathed to them by history, as a boon and something that deserves to be promoted and celebrated with pride.

Together, let's celebrate the future of the French fact in Canada. Together, let's celebrate the place of French in the world.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Bill

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Lillian Eva Dyck | Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words about this motion. I am definitely in support of it. The idea of a First Nations education act is critically important to the welfare of First Nations across Canada, and especially to our young people.

Income Inequality

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette | What does the government intend to do to learn from the financial crisis, reduce wealth inequality, and follow the lead of other jurisdictions that have started to rein in compensation that has nothing to do with the productivity of the people who earn the average salary of a Canadian in half a day?

Broadcast of Senate Proceedings

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchelll | What is the leader's personal opinion about televising the Senate?

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Art Eggleton | That was supported unanimously in the Senate, so I take it, senator, that you would be willing to now advance this idea to the government.

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator James Cowan | My question is: Will this government put National Pharmacare on the agenda?
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