Commissioner Raymond Théberge noted that while no federal institution violated the rules, the prime minister is not subject to their scrutiny.
Raymond Théberge, the federal commissioner for official languages, announced on Friday that the more than 1,000 complaints he received about the nomination of Inuk leader Mary Simon as governor general were unfounded.
Théberge noted that no federal institution – in this case the Office of the Privy Council that provided a list of potential candidates – had not “taken concrete and intentional positive steps” to promote the recognition and use of both official languages during the selection process. But he added that the prime minister, who had the final say on the choice of the governor-general, is not subject to scrutiny from his office.
“A few months ago, following the announcement of the appointment of Mary Simon as Governor General of Canada , more than 1,000 Canadians filed complaints with my office about Ms. Simon’s inability to speak French, ”Théberge said in a statement. “At this time, the investigation has established that the Privy Council Office took positive steps during the process to recommend candidates to the prime minister.
Furthermore, the prime minister, who is not a federal institution subject to the Act, has full authority to appoint anyone to the office of Governor General and is not bound by any recommendation issued by the Office of the Privy Council.
“For all these reasons, the conclusions of my preliminary investigative report on the process that led to the appointment of the Governor General in 2021 are that the allegations are unfounded.
Théberge noted: “Institutional bilingualism depends largely on the bilingualism of those who hold positions at the highest levels of public service. Our leaders must lead by example and must be able to represent all Canadians in both official languages. “
But he added that “we are at a turning point in the history of our country and that the appointment of an indigenous governor general is a significant step towards reconciliation.”
Simon’s appointment as governor general last July drew attention after she acknowledged that she could not speak French, a situation she attributed to receiving her education at a federal day school in northern Quebec.
Simon speaks English and Inuktitut. He has vowed to learn French and spoke briefly in that language this week while delivering the government throne speech.