New Brunswick

Justin Trudeau nominates University of Moncton president as language watchdog

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated University of Moncton president Raymond Théberge to be the country's new commissioner of official languages.

Raymond Théberge's is 'perfect choice' for official languages commissioner, prime minister says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated University of Moncton president Raymond Théberge to be the country's new commissioner of official languages.

Théberge's "passion for linguistic duality and minority language rights makes him the perfect choice" for the watchdog position, Trudeau said in a statement on Thursday.

"His experience as a community advocate, an academic and a public servant has provided him with a greater appreciation of the challenges faced by English- and French-speaking communities across Canada."

Under the Official Languages Act, the nomination must be approved by the House of Commons and the Senate.

If appointed, Théberge, a Franco-Manitoban, would be the first commissioner from outside Ontario or Quebec to hold the position.

The commissioner of official languages is responsible for promoting equality of English and French and supporting the preservation and development of official-language minority communities.

I am confident that Mr. Théberge  will hold our government to account for the full implementation of the Official Languages Act.- Justin Trudeau, prime minister

The commissioner, who reports directly to Parliament, also ensures the equality of English and French within federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act.

"I am confident that Mr. Théberge  will hold our government to account for the full implementation of the Official Languages Act," Trudeau said.

The appointment comes after the previous nominee, Madeleine Meilleur, withdrew her candidacy after it emerged the former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister had donated to the federal Liberal Party and Trudeau when he was campaigning to head up the party.

Worked for Ontario, Manitoba governments

Since 2012, Théberge has served as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Moncton, the largest French-language university in Canada outside Quebec.

He previously served as an assistant deputy minister, which is a senior non-political role, in the government of former Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty. 

He has worked as an educator, academic, author and senior official in the governments of both Manitoba and Ontario during his 35-year career. 

Commissioners serve a term of seven years.

The mandate of the interim official languages commissioner, Ghislaine Saikaley, is scheduled to end on Dec. 16.