Bitter departure of the OIF for Catherine Cano - The Canadian
Tuesday, November 24

Bitter departure of the OIF for Catherine Cano

Catherine Cano, administrator of the International Organization of La Francophonie, has resigned from her post. This abrupt departure of the number 2 of the OIF created the surprise, because nothing announced it only 18 months after his appointment.

“It is with the feeling of accomplished duty that I leave the OIF”, affirms Catherine Canot in a written declaration presented yesterday. [jeudi], six days after his resignation. “I believe that I have successfully completed the three components of the mandate entrusted to me, namely the recovery of the organization’s finances, the improvement of the transparency of its operations, as well as the formulation of recommendations to in particular to a regulatory overhaul intended to ensure sound management and the gradual transformation of the organization. “

The OIF did not issue any press release, just an internal memo on Wednesday, which reported “persistent disagreements over its methods” with the Secretary General, Rwandan Louise Mushikiwabo.

Contacted by phone, Oria Vande Weghe, spokesperson and director of communications for the OIF, explains that this departure without notice is “experienced as a relief” in the office of the Secretary General. “Catherine Cano worked very hard, but the collaboration was not easy. Although we had no doubts about her commitment, she had complicated working methods. “

Internally, frustrations are being reported at their meetings at late hours and messages around the clock. “She was in all the niches, of all the files, it was a little chaotic”, said a source who requested anonymity.

On this side of the Atlantic, we are both surprised by this unexplained resignation and the acrimonious tone adopted by the OIF, while the tone is generally more subdued in the circles of multilateral diplomacy.

In the office of François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, we are surprised by the position of the OIF, where we are usually more cautious. Spokeswoman Christelle Chartrand writes: “Ms. Cano is an experienced manager, and we thank her for her important contribution to the OIF. “

On the side of the Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Nadine Girault, we “take note of the decision of Cano leaving the OIF. “Her press officer Flore Bouchon wrote:” We salute all the work she accomplished during her time at the OIF. “

Rumors and speculations

Speculation is rife about what may have happened. His statement suggests that personal reasons could have weighed in his decision: “Finally, I am happy to return to Quebec, after this long period spent away from my family. “

Rumors point to dissensions over the appointment in September of the seven representatives of the OIF to international organizations and regional groupings of member states. Others evoke a “cultural clash” between an experienced administrator of very North American culture, but not necessarily connected to a complex company of 300 employees belonging to 34 nationalities dominated by Africans and where France weighs heavily.

Either way, no one seems to have seen clear signs of a dispute between the two leaders. The first year of Catherine Cano’s mandate, the understanding between the two leaders was pretty good, especially since the administrator accomplished what she had been hired to do.

When it arrived in 2019, the OIF had an accumulated deficit of $ 7 million, which was sailing towards $ 8 million. In one year, it generated a surplus of $ 2.4 million, a figure certified by the external auditor of the OIF. In addition to automating the payroll system and reducing the number of projects from 40 to 25, Catherine Cano introduced more transparency by posting a few hundred budget and program documents online, including salaries.

The arrival of Catherine Cano as administrator in April 2019 closely followed the replacement of Secretary General Michaëlle Jean after four years of controversy at the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Louise Mushikiwabo’s appointment was the result of bargaining between Canada and France. Canada had given its support to the Rwandan candidacy, supported by France, in exchange for the guarantee that the next administrator would be Canadian. But now that Catherine Cano has resigned, it is far from certain that the person who will succeed her Canadian.

In the complicated history of institutional Francophonie, Catherine Cano was the third titular administrator of the OIF after Clément Duhaime, who held the position from 2006 to 2015, and Malian Adama Ouane, from 2015 to 2019.

Ottawa and Quebec promise their support for the OIF, but the behind-the-scenes games have started. The Minister of International Relations, Nadine Girault, “intends to work together with the Government of Canada to propose a new candidate for the position of director of the OIF. “

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