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François Hollande: 'No room for backing down' in face of terrorism

The president of France says there is no room to concede in the face of terrorism. François Hollande is addressing Parliament after being welcomed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Hollande and Harper will take questions from reporters around 12:30 p.m. ET.

French president lays wreath at National War Memorial 10 days after shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

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7 years ago
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Stephen Harper and François Hollande take questions 14:16

French President François Hollande says Canada and France must not back down when faced with terror threats.

But he suggested the air campaign in Iraq and Syria to degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, won't be enough.

"It won't be resolved with a few bombings," he said. "The bombings will not help us find political solutions."

Canadian fighter jets are part of the Western coalition fighting ISIL, as two CF-18s dropped bombs on ISIL targets near Fallujah, west of Baghdad, on the weekend. They are part of a six-month contribution that many analysts say could take much longer to defeat the ISIL threat.

"I reassert here that in the face of terrorism, there is no room for backing down, for concession, for weakness. Because terrorism threatens the values both of our countries are based on," he said, speaking in the House of Commons.

Canada's Parliament was "defiled" last month when a gunman killed a soldier at the National War Memorial and stormed Centre Block, Hollande said.

He also saluted Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, the man who ultimately took down the attacker, saying his actions are now known the world over.

"This seat of democracy ... was defiled on Oct. 22 by a terrorist-inspired attack, the ultimate goal of which was to attack the very idea of freedom, which this Parliament represents," Hollande said.

'Solidarity' with families of victims

The president of France laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa as he started the second leg of his state visit to Canada, then headed to Parliament Hill, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On Sunday, Hollande expressed his sorrow for the deaths of two Canadian soldiers as he started the first leg of his state visit to Canada.

Hollande was given a tour of Banff National Park by Harper and made note of the deaths of the soldiers, who were killed last month in separate incidents in what police have described as terrorist attacks.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot dead by a gunman in Ottawa while standing guard at the National War Memorial. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed and another soldier injured when they were run down by a vehicle south of Montreal.

"I want to express all of France's solidarity with the families of the victims tragically murdered in those terrorist attacks that caused such grief to your country," said Hollande.

"There have also been tragic acts here and I'd like to extend to you, dear Stephen, the full friendship of France in these circumstances. In other moments, not so far in the past, we were also touched by such dramatic acts," he said in French.

Lack of environmental action 'will lead to a disaster'

Harper touched on the attacks on Parliament and the National War Memorial as he introduced Hollande to a special joint session of Parliament.

Harper also told Parliament he and Hollande had discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine, the "urgency of dealing with climate change" and the ongoing Ebola crisis.

In his speech, Hollande said world must act to bring down greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels.

Hollande noted Sunday's report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that said climate change is almost entirely man-made and it is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century in order to limit the impact.

Hollande said the report was the work of "the highest scientific authorities" and that a "lack of action will lead to a disaster."

France will host the next major international climate summit in December 2015 and Hollande said he wants Canada's help.

Last month, Hollande's special climate envoy visited Ottawa, but was unable to get a meeting with Harper.

The envoy met NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, whom he called a climate change ally. Hollande is to meet Mulcair in Ottawa later Monday.

Canada 'great friend': Hollande

Hollande told Harper it was a pleasure to be the first French president to make an official state visit to this country since 1987, calling Canada a "great friend".

"Canada is attached to bilingualism. We share the sensitivity and elegance that comes each time we express ourselves in French. It's a skill to speak two languages, like you do in Canada," Hollande said.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston paid tribute to the close ties Canada and France have developed in a speech at a state luncheon at the Banff Springs Hotel.

"Our ties are strong but the challenges we face are many," said Johnston.

"We must avoid complacency. Through dialogue and a shared commitment to working and innovating together, I am certain we can strengthen our partnerships and create new avenues of prosperity."

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice calls visit 'historic'

Hollande and Harper will also speak at a business luncheon in Ottawa. Hollande is also scheduled to visit Montreal and Quebec City.

The last French president to make a formal state visit to Canada was Francois Mitterrand in 1987, although Nicholas Sarkozy attended a European Union-Canada summit in 2008.

Hollande is accompanied by several cabinet ministers and a large business and academic delegation.

France is Canada's eighth-largest commercial partner, with bilateral merchandise trade totalling more than $8.5 billion in 2013.

The French president also met with Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and Bob McLeod, the premier of the Northwest Territories.

"This visit is as historic as it is valuable given the long-standing friendship between Alberta and France that begins with our cultural roots," said Prentice.

"Market access continues to be the most pressing issue facing the province and today we took a significant step on this front with the signing of a letter of intent between Alberta and (France's) Ministry of Agriculture."

with files from CBC News

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