Best wishes from the Consul General [fr]
"Pessimism comes from the temperament, optimism from the will". Alain.
May 2016 bring you health, happiness, and prosperity!
To my dear compatriots and to the friends of France in Ontario and in Manitoba:
On behalf of the whole team at the Consulate General of France in Toronto, I would like to express my warmest wishes for this new year.
A number of tragic events took place in France in 2015. We must begin the year 2016 by remembering the tragic series of events that took place on January 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2015. Less than two months after the attacks that took place in Paris on November 13th and at a time when France is still in a state of emergency, the security of French nationals in Ontario or Manitoba, whether their stay is a short or a long one, remains our priority. We have no information about any risks to French interests in this region. We must nevertheless remain vigilant. It is for this reason that I am calling for the security committee, whose members consist of your elected consular officials, to convene for the second time since I took up my post. The objective at this point is to evaluate potential risks and to establish policies to be followed in partnership with Canadian security services.
For the Consulate, 2016 will be a key step as we prepare for upcoming electoral proceedings in 2017 (both presidential and legislative). This year, we will update the electoral list for this region: to vote in 2017, you must ensure that you are registered on this list before December 31st, 2016. To verify your electoral status in 2016, you can contact the Consulate by email or by visiting www.service-public.fr.
2016 will also be a year of modernization for our consular services. We will take a great step forward in the months to come when we open the online registration platform for the Registre des Français de l’étranger, which is available via the website service-public.fr. This site will allow you to proceed directly with your registration. Another new development: an upcoming change will see to it that the passport renewal procedure no longer requires applicants to come into the Consulate twice, as new passports will be delivered by mail. The modernization of our consular services will also include development of our local public service operations. As in past years, we will continue to provide off-site consular services. As we announced previously, we will provide these services in greater numbers and with greater frequency: four in Ottawa, two in Winnipeg, one in Sudbury, and two in southwest Ontario (where we are seeing the number of our compatriots grow). Finally, we will improve our public service operations, particularly with regard to response times and document issuance times, but also by maintaining open communication channels with you so that you can give feedback on the quality of services offered.
The Consulate’s operations also aim to promote friendship and discussion between France and our two provinces.
In this vein, French associations have a key role to play with regard to the activities of the French community. In 2016, just as in the past, the Consulate will assist these organizations with their operations, regardless of their vocation: economic affairs, culture, community initiatives, or otherwise. It is of crucial importance that all of these associations work intelligently, not only amongst themselves but also in our Francophone environment. The Consulate stands ready to support all such initiatives. Beginning this January, we will form an organizing committee consisting of representatives of all of the organizations wishing to contribute to the organization of this year’s national holiday celebrations next July 14th.
In 2016, we will work with the cultural and scientific services to promote further cooperation between France and the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. Promoting student exchanges will continue to be a priority; we have contacted members of university administration in France to explore new ways of driving this dynamic forward. These efforts also rest on the implementation of scientific exchanges; there too, we are continuing our efforts to build on individual inter-university interactions to establish targeted strategic cooperative initiatives. Innovation will continue to occupy a place of particular importance.
In 2016, we will also put particular emphasis on academic cooperation. In the Anglophone provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, our assistance has been solicited not only in and by Francophone school boards, but also in support of immersion programs for Francophile Anglophones. These immersion programs have been growing at an impressive rate.
Following the success of the Paris climate conference in December 2015, 2016 will be the year when we put our commitments into practice. The Premier of Manitoba has announced that the province will join the carbon market that Ontario—with Quebec and California—will create by 2017. Ontario will soon unveil its plan to put its commitments into action. These new public policies also represent economic opportunities for the French business community in the fields of sustainable cities, transportation, and renewable energy, among others.
2016 is off to a promising start with a great deal to offer. The Consulate General will stand with you to help make it a fruitful year and to help you reap the benefits when the time comes. Happy New Year!
Your Consul General