Raymond Théberge named Canada's official languages commissioner

Raymond Théberge has been named Canada's new Commissioner of Official Languages.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praises 'passion for linguistic duality and minority language rights'

University of Moncton president Raymond Théberge has been nominated as Canada's next Official Languages Commissioner. (CBC)

Raymond Théberge has officially been named Canada's new Commissioner of Official Languages.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that president and vice-chancellor of the University of Moncton will be the new champion for promoting and preserving both English and French languages in Canadian society, including in federal institutions and in language minority communities.

The nomination was previously reported by Radio-Canada.

A Franco-Manitoban, Théberge's career has spanned 35 years as an educator, academic, author, and senior official in both the governments of Manitoba and Ontario, according to a release from the prime minister's office.

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

Francophone groups and opposition parties sharply criticized the selection process and her nomination, arguing the commissioner must be independent of any political influence. 

Nomination needs parliamentary approval

The nomination must still be approved by the House of Commons and the Senate as required by the Official Languages Act.

In a statement, Trudeau praised Théberge's "passion for linguistic duality and minority language rights."

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

Théberge would be the first Commissioner of Official Languages from Western Canada, and the first from outside Ontario or Quebec to hold the position.

Trudeau also announced that Nancy Belanger, who has had a long-time legal career with the federal public service and currently holds a senior post with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, will become Canada's new Lobbying Commissioner.