France invests in Canada’s success

| December 1, 2010 | 0 Comments

My focus, as ambassador of France to Canada, is to take the historic France-Canada partnership to a new level with enhanced strategic priorities. After Canada’s hosting of the G8 and G20 Summits, France took over the presidency of the G20 from South Korea in November and will take over the presidency of the G8 from Canada in this month. It is symbolic that our two countries, which are among the founders of the G8 and the G20, once again stand side by side in their presidencies of these gatherings. France has strong objective for its presidencies. For the G8, France will place an emphasis on promoting partnership with Africa. With respect to the G20, our focus will be three-fold: reform of the international monetary system, better control of the volatility in the prices of raw materials and promotion of global governance reform.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Stephen Harper — seen here at the G8 in Muskoka in June — will have both chaired the G8 and G20 Summits within a year of each other.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Stephen Harper — seen here at the G8 in Muskoka in June — will have both chaired the G8 and G20 Summits within a year of each other.

In addition, France is absolutely committed to supporting the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) currently being negotiated between Canada and the European Union (EU), as well as bilateral economic and trade partnerships with Canada. France is today the fourth-largest foreign investor in Canada, with French companies currently providing 80,000 high-quality jobs throughout the country.
French investment is not only significant, but it also reflects the diversity and the resilience of the Canadian economy itself. French investment can be found in all economic sectors and more particularly in those that have a high technological component. With the energy sector alone (from Total’s $20 billion investment in Alberta to the Alstom/TransAlta partnership in state-of-the-art carbon-capture and storage in the oil sands, from EDF and GDF Suez investments in renewable energies to the investment made by Bathium Canada and Renault-Nissan in electric vehicles), there is little doubt that France and French companies not only see potential in this great country but are also directly invested in its success.
French investment is also focused on the future — and in research and innovation in particular. This explains why a central pillar of France-Canada relations is university co-operation. Collaborative research between universities and research institutions in our two countries is growing at an exceptional pace. Programs such as the France-Canada Research Fund (FCRF), which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, support research on both sides of the Atlantic and forge new and lasting partnerships.
These initiatives are already bearing fruit, exemplified in productive cooperation in a number of areas. In the field of neurosciences and the fight against neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, joint research between the French Brain and Spine Institute and the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto, Montreal and McGill is providing crucial insight that may one day lead to a cure for this horrific disease. French and Canadian expertise in polar research is also coming together in early 2011 with the creation of a France-Canada joint research group, sponsored by the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) and housed at the University of Laval in Quebec, with the goal of developing a Franco-Canadian Polar Research Observatory.
Canadian universities are also showing a rising interest in double- and joint-degree programs. Graduates from these programs obtain a Master’s or PhD degree, recognized in both countries and at a European level, and benefit from an invaluable experience and opportunity. This unprecedented co-operation strengthens our respective positions and competitiveness in an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy.
My role and the embassy’s mission are thus to champion a partnership between France and Canada that is stronger and better adapted to tackle the challenges of the 21st Century. In this respect, we should never forget that our countries’ shared history and values are still our best guide to confront together the current challenges we face. As ambassador, my role is also to convey to my country the lessons learned from the Canadian experience. In the two years I have been in Canada, I have not only discovered an exceptional and magnificent country but also a people who have so much to offer to the world.

Francois Delattre is France’s ambassador to Canada. Reach him at politique@ambafrance-ca.org or 613-562-3741.

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