Mr. Speaker, today it is a great honour and a great source of pride for the Bloc Quebecois to draw the attention of the House to la Journée mondiale de la Francophonie.
For Quebec and for all francophones in the rest of Canada, whose common destiny is necessarily linked to that of the Francophonie, this is a particularly memorable day.
Incidentally, this anniversary coincides with that of the founding of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique, the first francophone intergovernmental organization.
Quebec's participation in this international body illustrates that in matters concerning the Francophonie, as in all other matters, especially when they concern our identity and cultural ambience, as the Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned earlier, it is important to run our own affairs.
Promoting the French fact also means promoting our viability as a community, and in this respect, we have no outside allies other than the solidarity of francophone countries.
We must remember that the destiny of francophones outside Quebec should not be dissociated from the affirmation of Quebec's identity, because our community owes its survival to its will to endure as a people. This solidarity among francophones in Canada must be strengthened.
Canada's francophone communities must not only survive, they must also be able to develop their cultural, economic and social potential in their own language.
The situation is not reassuring. Everywhere in Canada and even in Quebec, the position of French is precarious. Twenty-five years of official and individual bilingualism have not been able to stop the assimilation of francophones. Bilingualism is still too often a Francophone that speaks English.
It is also a fact that Canada's provinces have ignored the rights of their francophone minorities. Even worse, in a number of provinces, francophone communities are considered just
another ethnic community, a situation that was aggravated by the federal government's support for multiculturalism.
The closing of Collège militaire in Saint-Jean also brought to the fore the case of the French high school in Kingston, which is located in a building without washrooms or running water. Reality can be pretty grim!
When the Minister of Foreign Affairs says that to Canada, belonging to the Francophonie also means revealing to the rest of the world what is unique about Canada's situation, one wonders what situation he is talking about!
The Forum international de la Francophonie, which includes 47 countries from all continents, must continue to develop and make itself heard. This applies to all areas, including education, for instance, where the association of partially or fully French language universities, whose headquarters is in Montreal, does remarkable work, and also to the information technology sector and all other economic and cultural sectors.
I think that although it is appropriate to celebrate this international day of the Francophonie, we must not forget that we still have a long way to go, especially here in Canada.