State House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford visited the French Assembly when in France last week for exchange program. Courtesy photo

AUGUSTA – State House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford was taking part in an exchange program welcoming international leaders to France to examine the issues of economic cooperation, innovation, environment and energy policy in the country last week. He also discussed ways to revitalize French language education in Maine during this trip.

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Future Leaders Invitation Programme hosts 75 civic leaders from around the globe each year. Delegates have the opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of France and the country’s work on policy areas specific to each participant. Fecteau was invited to participate earlier this year. Notable past participants include Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s National Security advisor, Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s speechwriter and Deputy National Security advisor, and Theresa May, former prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“I am eager to meet with French government, business, and civic leaders this week,” said Fecteau. “Their Ministry of Europe and Foreign affairs has followed the work of the Maine Legislature to know we’re leading on clean energy, smart economic development and sustainable land use policies. They have built an itinerary that will allow me to see how their country is working on these same issues, and they’ve even planned a day for me to visit the village where my ancestors lived before emigrating to Quebec in the 17th Century. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”

Fecteau, who is Maine’s first Speaker from Biddeford, is serving his final term in the Maine House of Representatives. His French-speaking dad and grandparents emigrated to Biddeford from Packington, Quebec, in the 1960s for opportunities in Maine’s textile mills. Fecteau has spoken about his connection to French language and culture on several Maine podcasts and Franco-American summits and he hosted French diplomats on a visit to Biddeford in 2021. Last year, Fecteau welcomed the French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Étienne, to the Maine State House as part of the Franco American Hall of Fame induction ceremony organized by the Speaker’s Office.