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Francophone forum has met only once since inception

Mayor Jim Watson’s plans for a French assembly came to a halt after last summer’s first and only meeting. The assembly was created after the 2010 municipal elections to bring prominent members of the francophone community together to discuss francophone issues,  but has not been called to meet since its first and only gathering.

Jean-Louis Schryburt, a member of the French Language Services Advisory Committee (FLSAC) as well as the francophone forum, said the group consists of those well-versed in the issues.

“The mayor wanted to be able to rely on a group of francophones who were well-versed in the francophone matters so that with their help, and with the help of the caucuses and the FLSAC, it would be possible to make better progress on the projects relevant to the French community,” he said.

Approximately 10 people were invited to the first meeting, among them two representatives from the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, one representative from the University of Ottawa, and two business executives. Every representative was invited to put forth an issue they thought to be particularly relevant to the francophone community. According to Schryburt, Watson was more interested in their individual opinions than their opinions as representatives of francophone institutions.

“The creation of this group was an electoral engagement,” Watson said. He added that it was meant to create an informal context to better understand the concerns of the francophone community and that he would consult it regularly.

No official reason has been given as to why the forum was never brought together again. The mayor’s cabinet stated that just because this group has not been called to meet does not mean that it never will, but some members of what was once the francophone forum have doubts about the possible revival of such a project.

“For a discussion group like this to be effective, there has to be more than one meeting,” Schryburt said. “I am disappointed that the possible benefits that could have resulted from this forum never had the opportunity to materialize.”

The mayor’s cabinet states that there are still multiple ways in which the mayor stays informed and involved in the francophone community. According to the cabinet, he stays in contact with many of the people who participated in the francophone forum and heeds their advice when it comes to working together on projects for the French community.