• France's news in English

Hollande begins trade-boosting trip to Canada

AFP · 3 Nov 2014, 08:30

Published: 03 Nov 2014 08:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A new trade pact between Canada and the European Union is due to come into effect in coming years, eliminating 98 percent of tariffs on goods and services and potentially boosting commerce by a fifth.

France is keen to win its share of any new deals and to increase research ties with Canadian universities, as well as to pay tribute to a close ally in the struggle against violent extremism.

On Monday, Hollande will speak before Canada's federal parliament in Ottawa, which less than two weeks ago was the scene of a shootout between police and a lone gunman with jihadist sympathies.

Officials told AFP that this would be an "important moment" for Hollande to show solidarity with a country that is fighting alongside France in a US-led coalition against jihadist militants in Iraq.

Then he will head to the French-speaking province of Quebec, which has traditionally had strong economic and cultural ties with France.

France is hoping to persuade the regional government to drop a plan to halt an arrangement that allows French students to pay the same as local people to
attend Quebec universities.

But first, Hollande's journey took him to Alberta, home of Canada's vast oil reserves. Officials said he was keen to show that France is also interested in stronger ties with English-speaking Canada.

The first French president to come to Canada since Francois Mitterrand in 1987 was welcomed to Calgary by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and headed to Banff in the foothills of the Rockies.

The presence of some 40 French business leaders in Hollande's party was testament to the economic focus of his visit.

Hollande and his party were meeting with the leaders of Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, mainly English-speaking provinces in the west with growing economic potential.

"I would like France to keep showcasing the immense riches of Canada's Northwest Territories, whether it is exploration, transformation or hydrocarbon transport techniques, or infrastructure building," Hollande said.

"French firms are especially well placed in these areas."

Major French companies like Total oil are already present but the region's infrastructure and service needs are attractive to French executives.

Greenhouse gases 

Western Canada is enjoying an economic boom on the back of Alberta's oil industry, including the controversial exploitation of oil sands and shale gas, which environmentalists see as harmful.

The environment will be one of the trickiest topics of Hollande's trip, as the French leader begins preparations for the next global climate conference on ways to slow climate change in Paris next year.

Canada is one of the world's top polluters and Harper's government pulled the country out of the 2011 Kyoto Protocol designed to slow global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"France and Canada have decided to act together, not only for the good of our countries but for the planet," Hollande said.

"That's what motivates the Canadian prime minister and French government."

Story continues below…

Harper did not publicly disagree, but Canada may prove a stumbling block to France's efforts to build a front against climate change.

"All of us here recognize your personal position and your role as global leader" on the issue," Harper said in French.

The Canadian leader shunned the climate summit that took place on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September.

And Canada is already widely expected to not meet its promises to reduce its greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020.

In November next year, Hollande will gather leaders from all over the world in the French capital for the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP21, seeking to negotiate new emissions limits.

Energy exporters and major developed economies like Canada will be asked to make sacrifices, but Canada has shown no willingness to rein in its energy industry and is planning huge new pipelines.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available