Cornwall native new Ontario French Language Commissioner

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By Nick Seebruch
Cornwall native new Ontario French Language Commissioner
Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé stands with new Ontario French Language Commissioner and Cornwall native Kelly Burke.

ONTARIO - The Office of the Ombudsman announced on Monday, Jan. 13 that it had appointed Kelly Burke as the new French Language Commissioner.

Burke, a native of Cornwall and graduate of École secondaire catholique La Citadelle, is a lawyer and career public servant, with about 20 years of experience working with the Ontario government.

From 2014-2019 she was Assistant Deputy Minister of Francophone Affairs and was most recently Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Early in her professional life, Burke worked as a French Immersion teacher.

Burke was appointed to her current position by Ontario's Ombudsman Paul Dubé to whom she will be reporting as well as acting as Deputy Ombudsman.

“With her legal skills and vast experience in government, she will be a tremendous asset to our office as a whole,” Dubé said. “We look forward to working with her and are convinced that the best days for French language services in Ontario are not behind us, but ahead of us.”

The office of the French Language Commissioner was folded into the office of the Ombudsman by the Ford Government in May 2019.

“It is a privilege to be part of an organization that is renowned as an agent of positive change,” Ms. Burke said of the Ombudsman’s office. “As a passionate franco-Ontarian, I sought out this role because it provides me with a unique opportunity to contribute my knowledge and experience to the promotion of French language service rights within an organization that is known to be effective. With the expertise and resources of the Ombudsman’s Office to draw upon, I am enthusiastic about what the French Language Services Unit will be able to accomplish for francophones and francophiles in Ontario.”

Dubé explained that Burke would be impactful and active in her new role in his office.

“Francophones will benefit from a more powerful and impactful organization promoting their rights, and the new Commissioner will operate within a larger, more experienced organization, with a broader mandate. She will be proactive, highly visible, and accessible to the community,” he said. “The Commissioner’s role is to be an independent, effective agent of positive change. It is also to be a champion of French language service rights. Having played a vital role in the delivery of French language services, Ms. Burke already has extensive knowledge of the key players, stakeholders and issues.”

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