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The Hon. Charlie  Watt, O.Q. Appointed to the Senate by the late former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Senator Charlie Watt represents the province of Quebec and the Senatorial Division of Inkerman.

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The Week of La Francophonie

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Statement made on 18 March 2010 by Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool:

Honourable senators, I would like to highlight the Week of La Francophonie and to remind senators how very important francophone culture is to our country and to the world.

Nearly one-third of Canadians are francophones or francophiles, which was evident from the many young, bilingual Canadian athletes at the recent Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Canada is just one of the 68 states that are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie or accredited observers. There are currently around 200 million French speakers in the world, but there are over 800 million francophones and francophiles, as the Honourable Senator Champagne pointed out two days ago.

This shows that La Francophonie is alive and well, and that it is everywhere, even if it must constantly battle other language groups, including, of course, the most powerful, the anglophone group. For example, an article in yesterday's Le Devoir said that, even within institutions in the European Union, where French is one of the three official languages, English still prevails nearly everywhere, including on the many EU Web sites.

Since I am an optimistic person, I remain hopeful that French and La Francophonie will be around for many more wonderful years. I am encouraged by the vitality of the Acadian people, an important group in the Canadian Francophonie that I am proud to represent.

The World Congress that was held on the Acadian peninsula — my part of the country — last August showed just how strong, proud and unified the Acadian people are. Remember the words of our colleague, the Honourable Senator Robichaud, when he spoke to you about Acadia and the Acadian people just two days ago.

I am also encouraged by the many other francophone minority communities that enrich Canadian society and economy. These other communities, from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador, and from Windsor to Ellesmere Island, passionately defend their French and their membership in the Canadian and international Francophonie. Other honourable senators could illustrate this better than I could.

This year, the international Francophonie is officially celebrating its 40th anniversary, but that number is misleading, since the francophone world has been around since Astérix. We are celebrating 40 years of structure, of a legal entity that will move into its brand new Maison de la Francophonie in Paris this year.

Honourable senators, I am sure you will agree that La Francophonie plays a key role in Canada and throughout the world. Happy anniversary, and long live the Organisation international de la Francophonie.


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