New police chief promising to learn French
Board will send new chief to language school
Ottawa's new police chief doesn't speak French, but he is promising to hit the books to learn as soon as he starts his new job.
Peter Sloly was announced Monday as the new chief and said learning to communicate in French is a high priority.
"The board is going to put me in school right away, as soon as I join, and I will be studying hard," he said. "It is a regret not being able to come here and be fluent in French, but I am absolutely committed to learning it."
Sloly was previously a deputy police chief in Toronto and worked in the private sector before taking Ottawa's top job.
Ajà Besler, director of the Association des communautés francophones d'Ottawa said Sloly's commitment means a lot.
"In an ideal world, we would have a candidate who was bilingual before starting this important position within the City of Ottawa," she said.
"The new chief has shown that he is open towards French and that he is willing to learn French, so we think that is really excellent."
Besler said they will be watching to ensure the board gives Sloly the time and resources to learn the language.
Ottawa resident and former city council candidate Fabien Kalala, who attended the news conference where Sloly was introduced, echoed Besler's concerns. Kalala said he's willing to take Sloly at his word that he will learn French, but urged him to do so quickly.
Sloly said he believes being able to speak to different communities is essential to good policing, which is why he is committed to learning the language.
"I will make sure that stays a high priority for me."
Former chief Charles Bordeleau, who stepped down earlier this year, was bilingual when hired, but another former chief, Vern White, learned on the job.