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September 27, 2007
For immediate release
Intergovernmental Cooperation a Priority for Canadian Francophonie Ministers
PEI’s Minister responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs, Honourable Carolyn Bertram, will lead an intergovernmental committee in the development of a framework to ensure fairness and consistency of future intergovernmental negotiations of French-language services agreements. This framework will also help reduce the administrative workload currently imposed on provinces and territories.
“I had the pleasure of meeting my Provincial and Territorial counterparts for the first time and I was impressed with the level of cooperation and commitment displayed among the members of the Ministerial Conference,” said Minister Bertram. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve French-language services at home on PEI and also throughout Canada.”
Provincial and Territorial Ministers also pressed the Federal Government to develop a new plan on official languages as the current one expires in March 2008. “What this plan did was increase overall funding for French-language programs and services in PEI and across the country,” said Minister Bertram. “We believe it to be a valuable tool in the development and enhancement of the Acadian and Francophone community of PEI.”
“The Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin is pleased with the leadership shown by PEI and the other provinces and territories in taking an active role to secure a new plan on official languages,” said SSTA president Edmond Richard. “We are equally pleased with the level of commitment shown so far by the provincial government in matters relating to the long-term development of the Acadian and Francophone community.”
Following the Conference, Minister Bertram met with her counterpart from Québec, Honourable Benoît Pelletier, Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs, Francophones within Canada, the Reform of Democratic Institutions and Access to Information. The Ministers met to discuss the possibility of expanding cooperation between the two provinces.
Conference participants lent their support to various initiatives including fostering leadership and citizenship among young Francophones as well as supporting Grand-Pré National Historic Site’s request to become a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie aims to build a stronger relationship between the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments in order to enhance French-language services for citizens and to strengthen the Canadian Francophonie. The meeting was held in Halifax, September 12-13, 2007 and was hosted by the Honourable Chris d’Entremont, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Minister of Acadian Affairs.
The 12th Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 12-13, 2007. Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for the Canadian Francophonie met as a group and also had the opportunity to meet with their federal counterpart, the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages. The Ministers discussed a number of issues including the following.
Renewal of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Agreements:
• Intergovernmental agreements on French-language services expire in March 2009.
• PEI will lead an intergovernmental committee in the development of the negotiation and management framework for these agreements.
• This framework will facilitate the renewal of the next generation of intergovernmental agreements by ensuring fairness and consistency of negotiations between provinces/territories and the Federal Government and reduce administrative workload on provinces and territories.
• The Canada/Prince Edward Island Agreement on French-Language Services is a multi-year funding agreement and mechanism of cooperation between the federal and provincial governments to strengthen the capacity of PEI to implement the French Language Services Act and to support the development and enhancement of the Acadian and Francophone community.
Federal Action Plan on Official Languages:
• The Federal Action Plan on Official Languages expires in March 2008.
• This plan provided an overall increase of federal funding in support of French-language programs and services at the federal, provincial and community levels.
• Federal Government officials indicated they plan to conduct consultations with stakeholders as part of the development of a new plan.
• Provincial and Territorial Ministers stated their desire to work with their federal counterpart in the development and implementation of the next plan on official languages.
Québec/Prince Edward Island Cooperation and Exchange Agreement:
• Québec and PEI have a long-standing agreement (1989) that enables cooperation projects within the scope of the Francophonie.
• This cooperation is directed primarily in the areas of education, culture, economic development, youth, language, public administration and communications.
• Possible areas of expansion include environment and energy.
Youth Strategy and Action Plan:
• The Ministers expressed their support in favour of the development of stronger ties among Canada’s Francophone youth and to help organize a gathering of young Francophones in 2008.
• The focus of this gathering will be leadership development and citizenship.
• Citizenship refers to the involvement and social participation by youth in local, provincial, territorial, regional or national development.
• Consultations with Francophone youth stakeholder organizations from across Canada took place in the spring and summer of 2007 to identify priorities for young Francophones.
Grand-Pré’s request to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site:
• Ministers had the opportunity to visit Grand-Pré National Historic Site during the Ministerial Conference.
• The Ministers expressed their support to Grand-Pré National Historic Site’s request to become a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Grand-Pré National Historic Site in Nova Scotia commemorates the area as a centre of Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755 and the deportation of the Acadians which began in 1755.
• UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
• Other World Heritage Sites in Canada include Nahanni National Park, Historic District of Old Québec City, Gros Morne National Park, the town of Lunenburg (NS), among others.