Ottawa

Former PC candidate hired as Doug Ford's francophone affairs adviser

The Ontario government confirmed Friday it has hired Marilissa Gosselin as a senior policy adviser on francophone affairs in Premier Doug Ford's office.

Marilissa Gosselin hired to advise Ontario premier amid backlash to cuts

A woman holds up a protest sign adorned with the Franco-Ontarian flag at a rally over French language service cuts in Ottawa on Dec. 1, 2018. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

The Ontario government confirmed Friday it has hired Marilissa Gosselin as a senior policy adviser on francophone affairs in Premier Doug Ford's office.

Gosselin is from Hearst, Ont., and lives in the eastern region of the province. She was a Progressive Conservative candidate in the 2011 provincial election in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, but lost to Liberal Grant Crack. The seat is now held by MPP Amanda Simard, who left the PC caucus after backlash to the French services cuts. 

The creation of the position was announced on Nov. 23, when the Ford government conceded on some of its proposed cuts to French-language services.

Marilissa Gosselin is the new senior policy advisor for francophone affairs in Premier Doug Ford's office. (Radio-Canada)

A week earlier, the government announced it would eliminate the French language services commissioner and cancel funding for a French university in the Toronto area.

The government then backtracked and re-created the position of French language services commissioner attached to the ombudsman's office, named Caroline Mulroney as minister of francophone affairs, and said it would hire a senior policy adviser responsible for francophone affairs in Ford's office.

Hire won't stop Franco-Ontarian resistance

Carol Jolin, president of the Francophone Assembly of Ontario (AFO), said that while his organization was not consulted in the selection process, he's happy about the hire and has known Gosselin since the 2011 election campaign.

"She is Franco-Ontarian. She knows our issues, our challenges that we have," said Jolin. 

President of the Francophone Assembly of Ontario Carol Jolin said the assembly plans to stay in close touch with the new francophone affairs advisor to let her know what's important to the French community. (Radio-Canada)

Although he is pleased Ford came through on his promise to hire an adviser on francophone affairs, he said Franco-Ontarians will continue a resistance movement that started after the cuts were revealed in the the province's fall economic statement. On Dec. 1, thousands of people across the province protested the cuts. 

Jolin said the AFO still wants to seen an independent language commissioner, not contained within office of the Ombudsman, and funding for a French university. He also noted that the federal government has said it would cover 50 per cent of the capital costs for the school. 

Lawyers looking at legal action

"It will open the communication line with Mr. Ford and his office, that's one good thing," said Jolin.

Jolin said the AFO already has two firms of lawyers exploring possible legal action on the commissioner issue. 

"It's certainly a good step that we have someone that we can talk to in the [premier's] office and that person is very knowledgeable about the challenges we have as Franco-Ontarians, but that doesn't solve the issues for now."

Jolin said he spoke with Gosselin to congratulate her on the new job and plans to stay in close touch about ongoing francophone issues. 

Gosselin an activist for French community

The premier's office said in an email that Gosselin has been a volunteer and activist for Franco-Ontarians. 

A 2002 graduate of the Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gosselin is also a certified management accountant and has been active in politics from a young age. 

She worked for an accounting firm in ​Orléans, a logging company in Hearst, and at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities before joining Waste Management Inc. in 2005.

After three years, she joined the ministerial office of Vic Toews, who was then president of the Treasury Board of Canada, as a policy adviser.

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.

With files from Radio-Canada

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