Commissioner’s Blog

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François Boileau
French Language Services Commissioner

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!

Flexibility for the Early Learning Program: the right decision

The McGuinty government has made a wise decision by allowing greater flexibility in implementing the Early Learning Program.

Originally, the proposed changes to the program would have forced many French-language school boards to end their partnerships with francophone daycare service providers that are already few in this province.

The government’s decision has been applauded by Ontario’s catholic school board association (AFOSC) and Ontario’s French-language teacher’s association (AEFO), the latter stating that “… this will preserve essential services provided to the Francophone community.” I agree.

French-language health planning entities ready to play their role

Yesterday, at Queen’s Park, the Ontario Government announced the creation of four more French Language Planning Entities in addition to the two that were announced in June. This is truly important news for Francophones across the province. Essentially the six planning entities will give French-speaking Ontarians — for the first time — a direct say in the decisions that are being made to improve the quality of their health care.

It also means that the government has paid heed to the recommendations contained in my Special Report on French Language Health Services Planning, released in May 2009. This is great news!

I expect all of these entities to be operational by the end of this fiscal year and I’m confident that they will be.

Generosity over the airwaves

Radio-Canada’s radiothon to help less fortunate members of the Francophone community in Ontario is in full swing. This morning I had the pleasure of taking part in the launch of this event, through a simulcast on the airwaves of CJBC in Toronto and CBEF in Windsor.

The radiothon continues on Saturday (Dec. 11) with major events planned for Toronto and Sudbury. These include a fund-raising breakfast, children’s activities and musical entertainment.

Funds raised will be distributed among several community organisations that offer assistance to those in need. These include the Oasis Centre for Women, the Clé d’la Baie in Simcoe County, the Carrefour francophone in Sudbury and the Francophone Community Centre in Windsor.

I invite you to tune in, take part and give generously!

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!