Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique on its 60th year of existence.
Francophones have been an integral part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of British Columbia since 1793. There are over 60,000 of them, living in 37 communities in our province.
The federation has been so successful in keeping these communities in contact with each other and in preserving their vitality and influence that British Columbia now ranks second only to Quebec in the number of students taking French as a second language.
I have had the pleasure of working in close collaboration with the federation for the past 12 years, on the Canada-communities agreement, the new francophone affairs office of Simon Fraser University, and RésoSanté, a health service for francophone immigrants.
As our commercial links with the Asia-Pacific region expand to the francophone countries of Asia, the strong francophone presence in British Columbia will become an even more valuable asset.