On February 2 in Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, awarded Jean Charest, Premier of Québec, with the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honour.
The National Order of the Legion of Honour is the highest distinction awarded by the French government to its citizens and foreign personalities who have served the interests of France. In his speech, Premier Charest insisted on historic links, singling out certain milestones in the “direct and privileged relationship” between Québec and France. He went on to say, “The honour that you are bestowing on me today is a moment of great happiness. I receive it as a token of the eternal friendship between France and Québec.”
The ceremony at the Élysée Palace was preceded by a conversation between Premier Charest and President Sarkozy, their first meeting since the French President’s trip to Québec City last October. During the fall visit, Premier Charest and President Sarkozy signed an agreement on mutual recognition of professional qualifications, aimed at providing a more effective response to manpower needs in Québec and France.
Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, attended the ceremony. The Minister was on day one of his first mission to Europe. While in Paris, he met with French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner and Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State responsible for Cooperation and La Francophonie.
Raymond Bachand, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, and Christine St-Pierre, Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women, were also there for the event.
Speech by Premier Charest (in French)