Commissioner’s Blog

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François Boileau
French Language Services Commissioner

T’is the season to be jolly!

Joyeuses fêtes - Seasons Greetings

This is the moment of the year when we must pause to take some time for ourselves, for our loved ones and our friends. And that’s exactly what I intend to do. Thus, this blog will be on hiatus for the holidays.

Allow me to wish you Happy Holidays, filled with health, happiness, love and all the best for 2012!

French-language services coordinators

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with the French-language services coordinators of each ministry. They play an essential role in the effective and efficient application of the French Language Services Act. Indeed, this reality led me to include them as a key recommendation in my very first annual report. They have also been the subject of many discussions since.

Theirs is an often ungrateful role, misunderstood by the general public while they work outside of the spotlight. But theirs is also a most important role. Their work is challenging as they provide counsel on the respect and application of the Act through the development of various programs, policies and practices to support the delivery of useful services for Ontario’s francophone population.

Insufficient in number, and given that they cannot be everywhere at the same time, they must appeal to their colleagues with utmost diplomacy, being often stuck between a rock and a hard place. But, I can attest that these coordinators have their hearts in the right place!

And this is why I wish to, once again, reiterate my support for the important work that they do for the benefit of Ontario’s Public Service and for Francophones in this province.

Support for CHOQ-FM

Logo CHOQ-FM Toronto

Last week, I wrote a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to let them know that, in my opinion, French-language community radio is an important tool for the development of the Francophone community as a vehicle of local culture and a means of showcasing new and emerging talent.

Community radio has the power to make what is seemingly invisible, visible. In other words it allows Francophone communities to exist publicly. This idea was discussed in our Study of Ontario’s French-Language Community Radio Stations: Key components of the vitality of francophone communities, published last April.

Since it began broadcasting in 2006, CHOQ-FM has had difficulty in fully reaching its audience using the 105.1 FM frequency. Indeed, many Francophones and francophiles live and work outside of downtown Toronto and cannot tune in to their French-language community radio station. If CHOQ-FM were awarded the 88.1 FM frequency, this would allow it to increase its broadcasting area.

This is why I’ve recommended to the CRTC that they grant CHOQ-FM’s request to move to 88.1 FM.

Health Professions and Services Appeal and Review Boards

Last Thursday, I made a presentation to the Health Professions and Services Appeal and Review Boards. I would like to thank Chair Linda Lamoureux and the organisers for having a panel on Language rights.

While these Boards have clear obligations under the French Language Services Act, they deal with colleges that also have obligations under s.86 of the Regulated Health Professions Act which basically states that a person has the right to use French in all dealings with their college. In other words, it really does help that a review Board would conduct a hearing in French. But if all the necessary paper work for the investigation prepared by the college is entirely in English, it could have dire consequences for a person under investigation.

In my second annual report (page 46), I wrote: “The Commissioner’s Office was able to resolve complaints which were difficult to categorize, and to markedly improve the quality and availability of French-language services. This was due, in large measure, to the cooperation and willingness of the institutions and agencies involved, in spite of the fact that they are not directly subject to the French Language Services Act.”

A morning in Peterborough

This week, I had the privilege of being invited to speak to the students and faculty of the French Studies program at Trent University in Peterborough.

My visit allowed me to meet some very interesting people while at the same time providing me with a forum to deliver my usual message regarding the importance of requesting French-language services.

This message was very well received and I wish to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of this event, and in particular, French Studies coordinator Yves Thomas.

I also wish to extend my regards to the other invited guest speakers. Among them, Franco-Ontarian playwright Michel Ouellette, the author of French Town and Testament du couturier; François Paré, professor at the University of Waterloo and author of Les littératures de l’exiguïté and La distance habitée, and Sylvie Bérard, professor at Trent University and author of Terre des Autres et de La Saga d’Illyge.

Although Peterborough is not a designated region, I was able to witness firsthand the importance of the French language in this region, thanks to Peterborough’s Francophones and Francophiles.

A tribute to Caroll Jacques

Photo : Carol Jacques  Today on my blog, I would like to pay tribute to Caroll Jacques, the former president of the Kirkland Lake ACFO who passed away last month. And I would like to quote from an email I received on Friday, regarding this unfortunate event:


Dear Sir,

I am writing to you regarding the passing of Mr. Caroll Jacques, who worked for l’ACFO for almost 35 years. Working for minorities in Canada is not an easy task and I would like to highlight the relentless determination and passion Mr. Jacques brought to this role.

Now, we must continue along this path, and with conviction, request services in French in Ontario to ensure that this country continues to improve.

That’s what Caroll and his family would hope from you.

Jimmy Allen

Over the past few weeks, there have been tributes highlighting the contributions made by Caroll Jacques, including a statement by the president of l’AFO, Denis Vaillancourt and several media reports regarding Mr. Jacques’ passing.

Allow me to add my voice to these tributes and insist on the exceptional devotion of a man who knew how to rally people to a great cause; a man who left us much too soon.

And to the family and friends of Caroll Jacques, please accept my sincerest of sympathies.