Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of Canada’s Conservatives and the Official Opposition, issued the following statement on International Francophonie Day:

“Today, we celebrate International Francophonie Day with Francophones and francophiles from around the world. From Caraquet to Maillardville to Trois-Rivières and Saint-Boniface, Canada’s Francophones express their strength, celebrate their culture, and show their pride.

“As the Leader of Canada’s Conservatives, I’ve met with Francophones virtually across Canada. I have discovered vibrant communities that are deeply rooted in their regions. Canada was born in French. This language is one of the most important identity pillars of our country. I am proud of our history and our heritage. It is a legacy that must be preserved.

“On the world stage, Canada remains a beacon of the Francophonie. We are a member of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), and one of its major contributors. In the 1970s, Canada was also one of the main instigators of the first forums of the international Francophonie. It is quite something!

“Over the past year, my Conservative colleagues and I have been urging the Liberals to act on the modernization of the Official Languages Act. We have also proposed several measures to ensure that the Act finally reflects the reality of today’s Canadian Francophonie.

“First, the wording of the Official Languages Act needs to be changed to be stronger. Secondly, where the Act is vague about positive measures, we want concrete action. We also want to centralize all application and enforcement powers of the Act within the Treasury Board. It is also time to create an administrative tribunal that will deal with complaints, as well as improve services for Francophones across Canada.

“In addition to modernizing its content, the spirit of the Act must be reviewed. Currently, the Act is based on the principle of reciprocity between our two official languages. Unfortunately, this does not match the reality. The federal government must establish an asymmetrical approach to protect French as a priority.

“As Conservative Leader, I must say that I am proud of the work that me and my team have been doing to support the Canadian Francophonie. The vitality of Francophone communities is a source of pride and inspiration for the whole country. Thanks to you, the Canadian Francophonie shines all over the world. Let’s celebrate the Francophonie and its accents! Happy International Francophonie Day.”