Sommet de la Francophonie in Canada

Harper welcomes Sarkozy ahead of talks on economy

Oct. 17 2008

Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Quebec City Friday ahead of a working lunch where the leaders will discuss the economy and trade issues.

Sarkozy and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, landed in Quebec City Friday morning and were greeted by Harper on the tarmac.

Harper has vowed to make sure Canadian banks are not negatively impacted by ongoing rescue efforts in Europe and the U.S., where governments are providing aid to financial institutions.

“The French president is the chairman of the EU commission on this whole issue right now so he’s trying to drum up support for different ideas on how to protect banks and the financial sector internationally,” CTV’s Rosemary Thompson said Friday from Quebec City.

The leaders are also expected to discuss a possible free trade deal between Canada and the EU.

“Obviously, the United States has always been our main trading partner but if we can do more with India, China and Asia and if we can do more with the European Union that would help to diversify the Canadian economy,” Environment Minister John Baird told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday.

According to The Globe and Mail, the discussions will focus on the free trade of services, rather than manufactured goods and agriculture, between Canada and France.

The Globe cites a French-language draft version of a joint-statement that says both countries are ready to take steps this year to ensure “operational launch of negotiations as soon as possible in 2009.”

The plan may include an “open skies” agreement for airlines, which would allow airlines from either country to have expanded rights to fly routes in the other’s jurisdiction, says The Globe.

Thompson said a labour mobility agreement between France and Quebec may also be negotiated today.

As part of the deal, Quebec and France would recognize 12 different trades and professions.

“For instance, if you were a doctor in France you could come and work in Quebec as a doctor and there wouldn’t be a hassle over credentials,” Thompson told CTV Newsnet from Quebec City.

After his meeting with Harper, Sarkozy will then deliver an address to the National Assembly in Quebec at 3 p.m.

“Apparently he’s going to take a very balanced approach today saying that he loves Canada but that, of course, Quebec is like a brother to France,” Thompson said.

In the evening, Sarkozy will attend the official opening of the summit of La Francophonie, an organization of 55 French-speaking nations.

However, the French leader has cut short his visit and will not attend the closing ceremonies of the summit — a first for any French president.

Instead, Sarkozy will travel to Camp David in Maryland on Saturday for meetings with U.S. President George Bush.

“It’s a bit disappointing,” Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s minister responsible for the provincial language law, said Thursday.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the shortened visit was understandable given the “extraordinary circumstances.”

Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, will not be travelling with her husband.

Source

CTV Newsnet: Leaders speak to media in Quebec  document.write(format_clip_duration(’00:15:12.00′)); // see common.js 15:12
CTV Montreal: John Grant reports from Quebec City and discusses Sarkozy’s plan to reform capitalism  document.write(format_clip_duration(’00:02:36.00′)); // see common.js 2:36
CTV Newsnet: Rosemary Thompson on the discussions expected at the Summit  document.write(format_clip_duration(’00:03:07.00′)); // see common.js 3:07
CTV Newsnet: Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Quebec City  document.write(format_clip_duration(’00:03:52.00′)); // see common.js 3:52