On the Eve of Presidential Elections: France's Major Challenges
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 29 Mar 2007, p. 344-357
Jouanneau, His Excellency H. E. Daniel, Speaker
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The growing importance of Toronto and Ontario for France and why that is so. Welcoming Premier McGuinty's decision to open an Ontario International Marketing Centre in the Canadian Embassy in Paris. France as an excellent gateway to the large European market. France on the eve of major political choices. Electing a new President and a new National Assembly. An explication of how the Presidential election will be conducted. What the election campaign is about. France and globalization. Some facts about France - business, technology, social welfare, foreign policy, health care, etc. NATO as key importance to the defence of France. France in Afghanistan. France as part of the European Union. The environment. Foreign relations. Commanalities between France and Canada.
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29 Mar 2007
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His Excellency H. E. Daniel Jouanneau
Ambassador of France to Canada
On the Eve of Presidential Elections: France's Major Challenges
Chairman: Dr. John S. Niles
President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests

Verity Craig, Principal, Hays Executive, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada; David Ashton, Senior Student, Parkdale Collegiate Institute; Reverend Canon Anthony Jemmott, Incumbent, St. George's Memorial Church, Oshawa; Odile Jouanneau, Spouse of Ambassador Jouanneau; Philippe Delacroix, Consul General, Consulate General of France in Toronto; Catherine Swift, President and CEO, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and First Vice-President and President-Elect, The Empire Club of Canada; Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs, Embassy of France in Canada; and Heather Ferguson, President, The Hearing Foundation of Canada, and Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

Introduction by John Niles

Your Excellency, Rev. Canon, Directors, honoured guests, and members of the Empire Club of Canada:

At the dawn of Western European history, in the northern part of North America, permanently stands France. Cartier, Champlain, Colbert and Talon. These names stand as giants of action and policy which continue to affect the world and Canada today. But the famous French civil servant, who not only had an enormous impact on Canada but on our entire modern world, was Armand Jean Duplessis--otherwise known as Cardinal de Richileu. Few statesmen can claim a greater impact on history. Richileu was the father of the modern state. He promulgated the concept of raison d'etat and practised it relentlessly for the benefit of his country.

Henry Kissinger has noted that under his auspices, raison d'etat replaced the medieval concept of universal moral values as the operating principle of foreign policy and French policy.

Initially, Richileu sought to prevent the Hapsburg domination of Europe but he ultimately left a legacy for the next two centuries that tempted his successors to establish French primacy in Europe. Out of these ambitions, a balance of power emerged, first as a fact of life, and then as a system of organized relations between countries.

Pope Urban the Seventh is alleged to have said of Richileu: "If there is a God, the Cardinal de Richileu has much to answer for. If not, well, he has had a successful life."

Mr. Kissinger is confident that the great Cardinal would have been pleased by this comment because he knew that his policy transcended the essential pieties of his age. Perhaps he did not know that he would be one of the great founders of our modern world.

While no direct governmental links have existed between France and Canada since the mid-18th century, France has remained, not only connected to us as a founding nation of Canada but also connected to our country emotionally and practically through origins, language, culture, diplomatic exchanges and joint interests in the Francophonie in the world outside France.

For all civilized people of the world, the French have a special place in our hearts through their interest in high culture, their special personal sense of confidence, the participation of their citizens in the Enlightenment and its impact on Western political and economic traditions. French art continues to inspire us through the impressionists and many other schools of painting. French cooking, wine and cheese are standard bearers of excellence. French philosophical perspectives, as illustrated by Camus, dominated the post-World War II era as the world contemplated the futility of the violent world in which we lived and the hopeless terror of the early atomic era.

And so it is my privilege after 50 years to have a French Ambassador to Canada grace us by speaking at the Empire Club. The last time we had a French Ambassador was when Ambassador Lacoste came and spoke in 1958.

To be sure, we have had the Consul General of France and the Canadian Ambassador to France. However, it has been too long since we have had this very important privilege.

It is my particular honour to have His Excellency speak to us today.

His Excellency graduated from the French Institute of Political Studies with a Master's degree in law.

In 1974, he became First Secretary in Egypt and, in 1980, Consul General in Salisbury and then Chargé d'affaires in Zimbabwe. In 1990, he became Ambassador in Mozambique and non-resident Ambassador in Lesotho and Swaziland. In 1997, he became Ambassador in Lebanon, in 2000, Inspector General of Foreign Affairs and, in 2004, the French Ambassador to Canada.

Will you please greet with me His Excellency the Ambassador of France--Mr. Daniel Jouanneau.

Daniel Jouanneau

Mr. President, members of the head table, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

First of all I would like to extend my warm thanks to Rev. John Niles for his invitation. I am grateful, Mr. President, for your kind introduction and impressed by your knowledge of France's history.

It is a real privilege for me to be your guest, particularly as the first French ambassador to address the Empire Club of Canada in 50 years. I will advise my successor to be patient. It is always a great pleasure to be in Toronto: a city where people come from all over the world, who do not see Toronto as the end of their journey, but as a place to start new adventures, in business, the arts or public life, and to succeed.

Toronto and Ontario are more and more important for France.

Ninety-five French universities and higher-education institutions have a partnership with your universities. New agreements are signed every year.

We do more and more together in the fields of scientific and, in particular, medical research. St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, and the MArS Discovery District life sciences centre all have joint programs with France.

France is the third-largest foreign investor in Canada, but ranks second in Ontario. Forty per cent of French investments in Canada are in Ontario, where 200 French companies employ 30,000 people. Many of them, including small and medium enterprises, supply the American market from here. Many big names of French industry have been present in Ontario for many years. Eurocopter (a French-German company) is a leader on the civilian helicopters market in Canada. Sanofi Pasteur, which bought Connaught Laboratories in the late '80s, is now the largest Canadian manufacturer of vaccines, and has decided to invest another $30 million to increase its production capacities. Another French company is Alcatel, which acquired Newbridge. The French are present in key high-value sectors: environment, energy, insurance, banking, and industrial goods.

Ontarian investments in France are also increasing. Canada has entered the top-10 countries of origin for foreign direct investment in France, with a share that has more than doubled over the past two years. Fifty companies from Ontario have invested in France, including major groups such as Nortel, Magna International, and now Onex Corporation.

We encourage others to follow their example, and we welcome Premier McGuinty's decision to open an Ontario International Marketing Centre in the Canadian Embassy in Paris, in order to boost our bilateral exchanges. We have reached the stage where it is clearly possible to envisage a new bilateral business association, bringing together Canadian companies and French partners, not only to discuss matters of mutual interest, but to suggest measures that could interest our governments in strengthening these growing business ties.

France is an excellent gateway to the large European market with 500 million consumers. Europe is an open, single market, where borders for people and goods have completely disappeared. Today, if we Europeans want to be global, we have to be in North America. If you, Canadian friends, want to be global, you have to be in Europe.

France is on the eve of major political choices.

I say "choices," plural, because we are soon going to elect both a new President and a new National Assembly, both for five years. The presidential election is particularly important in France, given the powers our Constitution gives to the President of the Republic. French communities abroad will directly participate in the election. In Canada, 50,000 French citizens will vote at the embassy and in our five consulates-general. In all, 900,000 French citizens living abroad will vote and their weight can make a significant difference if the final race is tight.

First, we will vote for a new President. On Sunday, April 22 (April 21 for the French communities in North America), we shall have to choose between 12 candidates, including four women. The whole spectrum of political parties is covered, from extreme left to extreme right.

If none of the candidates gets an absolute majority in the first round, which should be the case--it happened in all previous presidential elections--there will be a second round, where only the top-two candidates will compete. Of the 12 candidates, three hope to be one of the successful two: Mme Ségolne Royal, M. Nicolas Sarkozy, and M. Franois Bayrou.

On Sunday May 6, at 2 p.m. Toronto time, you will know who is the next President of France. But you will only have a complete picture of the new French political landscape on June 17, when a new National Assembly will be elected (We also have an elected Senate, but this is not an election year for senators).

There is a huge interest in France for the campaign, and we may expect a very high level of participation.

What is this campaign about?

"Security," or safety in the streets, was the main issue five years ago. Today, the core of candidates' programs deals with competitiveness and social cohesion.

Competitiveness has become a crucial issue, as our economy is getting more and more global, and new giants such as China and India emerge. We have a broad and animated national debate around such things as:

The ways and means to increase employment opportunities, beyond the progress achieved under Dominique de Villepin's government.
The best way to reduce our public deficit and debt. This is considered a major challenge by the three main candidates. I have received in Ottawa, over the past months, several delegations of French senators and MPs who came to carefully study the Canadian deficit-cutting experience and its impressive results in this area.
Tax policy. Does it fulfill its goals of promoting growth while securing fair redistribution and providing resources to a welfare state?
Environment. How do we further promote an environmentally sustainable economic growth?
Social cohesion. We need immigration, and France welcomes around 100,000 new immigrants per year. What should we do to offer them smoother integration? A lot has been done already. We did not wait for cars to be burnt in Paris suburbs to strongly increase budgets for urban renewal and new social housing, education, vocational training and community work. Promoting equal opportunities for a new generation born in France from immigrant parents has been a major priority for our government. Anybody who claims to be a victim of discrimination can seize the High Authority Against Discrimination and for Equality, whose powers have been reinforced. France's population, as in all industrialized countries, is getting older (yet, we have with Ireland one of Europe's highest population growth rates). How can we make the current pension system sustainable? How do we improve our health-care system? It is recognized by the World Health Organization as a very good one, but it is facing increasing demands for more costly long-term care.

The next President of the French Republic will govern a country, which is moving forward.

Since France is an old country, with a certain ingrained skepticism toward change, necessary reforms take more time to be accepted.

But may I quote the Economist, which wrote last October, "France is a country of contradictions where, for almost every weakness, it is possible to find a matching strength."

It is true that a segment of French opinion sees globalization more as a threat than an asset. In a small community, where jobs can depend on one activity only, outsourcing can be a trauma. But make no mistake, France is comfortable with a global world. France is the sixth-largest economy in the world, the fifth-largest exporter of manufactured goods, the fourth exporter of services. We rank fourth on the list of the world's top companies, and fourth or third, according to the year, for receiving foreign investments.

France is anything but an archaic country, unable to change. We need reforms, and we make them. Often with what Shakespeare would call a little "sound and fury," but when we make them, they can be radical. Several big public companies have been privatized, and are now global leaders. France Telecom is private. Air France is private and very profitable since its merger with KLM. French highways are privately managed. Even water, that most public of goods, is managed privately.

Fiscal reforms are on track. Investment in new technologies is a high priority.

By the end of this year, 100 per cent of our territory will have access to high-speed Internet, which will be the highest level of broadband connections in Europe.

We lead the way in nuclear technologies, and 80 per cent of our electricity is generated by nuclear energy, Saskatchewan being one of our main suppliers of uranium. Nuclear energy is greenhouse-gas-free, and has considerably helped us to abide by our Kyoto commitments.

We have pioneered the largest high-speed train network in Europe. It takes two hours and 20 minutes to go from downtown London to downtown Paris, and the new Paris-Strasbourg train will race at 320 km/h.

We have started reforming our welfare state. Working beyond the legal retirement age is now encouraged and promoted. If the legal work-week is set at 35 hours, implementation of the law is flexible, and the actual working week in France amounts to 37.4 hours.

The deficit of the state health insurance system has been reduced by 25 per cent.

Successful reforms, often inspired by the Canadian experience, have been carried out to modernize our public services. There has been emphasis on results and performance, accountability, and online government.

Whoever our next President will be, our foreign policy will take into account several fundamentals.

The first is security and solidarity with our allies.

NATO is of key importance for our defence. France has participated in all NATO operations, and we are among the five leading troops contributors to NATO operations. For us, the transatlantic link is vital.

In Afghanistan, we pay tribute to Canada's commitment and to the courage of your soldiers. But our Canadian friends should not underestimate what France is doing. We do our share too. During the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, France was the only country to send doctors to help the Afghan people.

After September 11, we were among the very first countries to send troops. French forces have been in Afghanistan from day one. Ten French soldiers have been killed. Today, 2,000 troops (army, navy, air force) are committed to the stabilization of Afghanistan. Among them, 1,100 are on the ground in charge of the security of Kabul. Kabul is a crucial area. There you have the President's headquarters, the government, the parliament. Any attack against Kabul would have very serious effects on the country's stability. And Kabul is not safe. We know that it remains a target for the Taliban and their suicide killers. This is why a strong and deterrent military presence is absolutely vital in Kabul.

But we have not turned a deaf ear to NATO's call for further help in Afghanistan, and for Canada's call for help in the troubled South. After the Riga Summit, we sent three "Rafale," our new generation of fighters, and the "Charles de Gaulle" carrier group is cruising to the Indian Ocean for the fourth time with 28 fighters to support ISAF operations including those in the Kandahar area, where Canadian troops are bravely serving.

We also have French officers in Kandahar, training Afghan units. France has already trained more than 4,000 Afghan officers and 51 instructors, who will join the Afghan army, and will be deployable with Afghan battalions, including combat operations.

Our military involvement is very significant, especially if you consider that, often under the UN flag and at the Security Council's request, France has deployed 14,000 troops, a similar figure to that of the United Kingdom, in strategic areas where regional stability, and in some cases international security, are challenged: Ivory Coast, Kosovo, and South Lebanon.

As is Canada, France is also making a major effort to rebuild Afghanistan, both bilaterally and through the European Union.

The European Union is much more than the largest economic power in the world.

It is a political union. We have agreed to share sovereignty in a growing number of fields, including, for 13 of our 27 member-states, creating a single currency--a development considered not too long ago as unthinkable. Half of our laws are European. The European Court of Justice is similar to a Supreme Court.

The European Parliament is directly elected by the people. The EU has brought lasting peace to our continent, where the two World Wars started. It has brought freedom, democracy, human rights and a free-market economy in Central and Eastern European countries previously dominated by the Soviet Union. It has spread wealth and self-confidence. Ireland and Spain would not be the spectacular success stories they are without Europe.

Europe is also crafting a common foreign and security policy. The last elections in Congo, a strategic state for the stability of Central Africa, have been possible thanks to a European peace-keeping mission. The European Union would not attract so many countries if it were not a success.

According to London's Financial Times on March 19, "This extraordinary and infuriating organization has shown an incomparable ability to spread stability and prosperity."

Many Europeans want the union to do more, including--paradoxically--a majority of French, in spite of their voting down the May 2005 referendum on a new European constitutional treaty. Since efficient answers cannot be national any longer, people are asking for what they call "more Europe," to fight crime, to protect the environment, to secure energy supplies, and to address immigration issues. This requires a more efficient decision-making process, to substitute, as often as possible, unanimity with majority voting.

This reform should take place in 2009 when a new European Parliament is elected. Meanwhile, the EU keeps working.

For instance, the 27 heads of state and government confirmed three weeks ago in Berlin that the EU must have a leading role in the preparation of the international agreement, which should build up and broaden the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.

As to greenhouse gas emissions, the 27 have decided to achieve at least a reduction of 20 per cent by 2020, compared with 1990. That is not a mere wish, or a recommendation, but a decision. And it means an absolute reduction, not an intensity target

As our Prime Minister stressed recently during a conference at Harvard University, the Middle East is being torn apart by a series of crises and fault lines that threaten to join together.

We have to deal separately, but simultaneously, with crises, which have their own logic, but are linked.

Any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires the renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel by the Palestinians, a fixed date for the creation of a Palestinian state, and the creation of two states living in peace and security.

Lebanon is very special to France, because we were instrumental in the creation of this country as an independent state in 1920. A sovereign Lebanon, with stable and controlled borders, will be a guarantee of security, not only for Israel but for the whole region.

In Iraq, the end of the crisis requires, in our view, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, mobilization by the Iraqis themselves for national reconciliation, their neighbours' support to ensure Iraq's territorial integrity, and, when the time comes, an international conference.

Vis-a-vis Iran, the work undertaken four years ago by the Europeans has allowed the international community to remain firm and united. An Iran with a military nuclear capability is unacceptable. But if Iran makes a gesture to suspend enrichment, the Security Council can suspend the sanctions. Given the role of Iran in the region, dialogue with this country remains for us a priority.

Globalization creates wealth and offers great opportunities. France, like Canada, draws an enormous advantage from being a player in a global world.

But we must never forget that globalization also makes the gap between rich and poor countries wider. Increasing our solidarity with the developing countries is more than a moral duty.

If we help these countries to create more jobs, to fight against pandemics, to have better access to water, then there will be a future for their youth, and we will reduce the risk of massive migrations, which would be a major challenge for the countries in the South also.

We will at the same time address the roots of ethnic and religious tensions, because poverty and frustration are a breeding ground for fundamentalism.

This is why France has steadily increased its official development assistance, which is now 0.47 per cent of our GNP. We hope to reach 0.7 per cent by 2012. Since air transport is one of the main benefactors of globalization. President Chirac took the initiative of a surtax on air tickets in order to buy generic drugs against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and deliver them to the sick especially the young ones in developing countries. We faced a lot of skepticism and opposition over this surtax, but now, 22 countries do the same, and the international fund for drug purchase facility, recently created, UNITAID, has already $300 million available.

France, as Canada, continues the G8 focus on Africa, as agreed on at the Kananaskis and Evian summits. Darfour is in all our minds, as France makes a big effort for the refugees in the neighbouring countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, most of the challenges I mentioned are common to Canada and France. In the years to come, partnerships between Canada and France will be more necessary than ever for us.

Let me tell you this. Canada means something special for the French. Canada is a country where, 400 years ago, the French came as the first foreign settlers.

Canada, in French eyes, has an image of success, of freedom, of openness, of tolerance.

Above all, Canada, to us, stirs a deep sense of gratitude. For twice in our history, at crucial moments, hundreds of thousands of young Canadian soldiers came to France to help us recover our freedom. Some 120,000 of them still rest, and are still honoured, on French soil.

Last night, at the Moss Park Armoury, I presented six valorous veterans of World War II with the Légion d'Honneur on behalf of President Jacques Chirac. Their names are Frederick G. Barnard, Theodore John Bennett, Arthur H. Boon, Hon. Barnett J. Danson, William Henry Hale, and James Herbert McCullough. One of them landed in Dieppe and five landed in Normandy on D-Day. They were our liberators. They are our heroes, as well as yours.

On April 9, we will celebrate, in France and in Canada, the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

We will never forget the 3,598 Canadian soldiers who still lie there, soldiers from all over the country, so many of them from Ontario, all volunteers, all so young. Resorting to innovative tactics, and fighting for the first time as a full army corps, they conquered a previously impregnable strategic hill, and gave their lives for the liberty of France. They defended values common to our two countries, and of paramount importance to us both even today.

On this day of remembrance--Vimy Day--more than ever, the French people still say: "Thank you Canada."

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Catherine Swift, President and CEO, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and First Vice-President and President-Elect, The Empire Club of Canada.

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On the Eve of Presidential Elections: France's Major Challenges

The growing importance of Toronto and Ontario for France and why that is so. Welcoming Premier McGuinty's decision to open an Ontario International Marketing Centre in the Canadian Embassy in Paris. France as an excellent gateway to the large European market. France on the eve of major political choices. Electing a new President and a new National Assembly. An explication of how the Presidential election will be conducted. What the election campaign is about. France and globalization. Some facts about France - business, technology, social welfare, foreign policy, health care, etc. NATO as key importance to the defence of France. France in Afghanistan. France as part of the European Union. The environment. Foreign relations. Commanalities between France and Canada.