News: General Interest News

Home for the holidays

The Commissioner’s blog will be on hiatus for the holidays but will return in January 2011.

For the moment, I would like to thank you for your loyal readership and thoughtful comments.

For the New Year, I would like to wish you health and success in all your endeavours.

Happy holidays!

A well-deserved honour

The first-ever Gala de la francophonie held in Hearst, on Friday, was largely devoted to honouring Mariette Carrier-Fraser, the outgoing AFO president. And, I must say, that I’m glad that I was able to travel to this event, for it also allowed me to admire the invigorating Northern Ontario winter landscape with its still-pristine white snow! As for the event itself, organisers Fabien Hébert and Marc Bédard, who worked tirelessly under tight deadlines, should be congratulated. Those who attended in large numbers (at least 150) also deserve a round of applause.

Mariette Carrier Fraser was awarded the very first Prix Mariette, and this award, reserved for exceptional achievers, is fully deserved. Indeed, her achievements speak for themselves, beginning with  her tireless work in the education field, as a teacher, but also as assistant deputy minister of Education where she was instrumental in paving the way for new French-language school boards and Ontario’s Aménagement linguistique policy. The award also serves to highlight her key role in the creation of the Collège Boréal and Collège des Grands Lacs.

Even in retirement, Mariette Carriere Fraser continued to do exceptional  work, becoming, in 2006, president of the Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) — a demanding role requiring diligence, diplomacy, determination and political savvy. And don’t believe for a minute that things were simple with the creation of this new organization that was born of the amalgamation of the community-focused ACFO and the more institutionally-centred DECCO. But as a result of Mariette’s skilful leadership, what we are left with today is a strong and healthy AFO that has established its credibility and is well-positioned to face the future. The fact that the leadership race for the succession of Mariette Carrier-Fraser attracted three highly skilled candidates speaks volumes about how far the AFO has progressed under her leadership.

We also owe her a debt of gratitude for her continued involvement in health matters (for the AFO’s stance in September 2008 regarding the first Regulatory Framework) and on the immigration file (where she will continue to represent the AFO for a few more months).

Mariette has an impressively thick Rolodex, and political actors make it a point of promptly returning her calls because they know that she’s open to dialogue, with a proper balance of firmness and flexibility. And we all know and love her overflowing level of energy as well as her endearing personal style.

On a more personal note, Mariette and I have discussed at length my role over the past three years and she has always shown great interest. I wish to publicly thank her for her active listening and her tireless devotion towards her community, whose members know how to reciprocate in kind. Thank you Mariette!

Our new Governor General


Yesterday, I had the great honour of meeting our new Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston, during an official welcoming ceremony. The ceremony was held in the front hall of Queen’s Park and attended by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Premier of Ontario and other dignitaries, including the heads of political parties. It was a solemn and dignified affair that featured heart-warming moments with several of David Johnston’s grand children in attendance. It also was entirely conducted in both official languages. Even the school children’s choir sang our national anthem in both English and French. No admissible complaints to my office, I can assure you! 

The Governor General delivered an inspired speech that didn’t shy away from issues of provincial jurisdiction. For instance, David Johnston reminded parliamentarians that he expected to see follow-up to his report on adoption and infertility, presented in 2009. Incidentally, this excellent report also looks at the specific situations of Francophone parents who have chosen adoption and the issue of French-speaking children who are wards of the state. 

David Johnston also reaffirmed the importance of the three pillars that were part of his inauguration speech: education, innovation and community engagement. And clearly, our new Governor General practices what he preaches. Not only is he fully bilingual, he is also a warm, charming, and kind-hearted person. 

Today, I’m on the road to Hearst… and I will fill you in on the details on Monday!

French-language radio added to Ottawa dial

Ottawa’s francophone communities now have a new way to share their culture and daily preoccupations with the launch of CJFO-FM: a community radio station that is now broadcasting at 94.5 FM.

I have a strong connection with community radio, having myself worked as a volunteer for such a station in Winnipeg, several years ago. Their artisans are passionate members of the community who work hard to produce programming that you won’t find anywhere else. Community radio has the power to unite, inform and appeal to the emotions of its listeners through the magic of the airwaves.

Thinking of getting involved? This is your opportunity.

OCOL’s Annual Report 2009-2010, volume II

Available on line today is the 2009-2010 Annual Report, Volume II, from my federal colleague, the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada. I haven’t read it yet from start to finish, but from what I’ve read, it is very promising. He is arguing a new concept called “Implementing the Official Languages Act: A Virtuous Circle”. For my colleague, federal institutions can only achieve the desired results if they take into account the five key elements that form the virtuous circle of implementing the Act. Know. Want. Plan. Do Check. And it all comes down to leadership.

I think this concept is brilliant, easy to understand and useful to implement with bureaucrats. Without any remorse, I am stealing this idea to make it my own! If my colleague wants to press charges, it is up to him to decide to complaint either to the RCMP (federal institution) or to the OPP (provincial institution)!


Forum on the Future of French language

The International Organization of La Francophone (OIF) will host a forum on the future of the French language (in French only) in 2012 in Quebec City, an initiative launched by the Premier of Quebec. This is a very interesting initiative,  in which I believe that Ontario should participate, because who says the future of French language says francophone communities. It would be an excellent opportunity for Ontario to showcase its inclusive definition of Francophone (IDF) and promote it on a national and international level. This new definition reflects the evolution and diversity of Ontario’s Francophone communities, including the reality of exogamous families.