Caroline St-Hilaire has a political role at the OIF, supports Minister Biron

Caroline St-Hilaire has a political role at the OIF, supports Minister Biron

Caroline St-Hilaire has a political role at the OIF, supports Minister Biron

Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press According to the Minister of International Relations, Martine Biron (on the photo), Caroline St-Hilaire has exactly the same responsibilities as her predecessor Geoffroi Montpetit, despite changes in the organization chart.

The organization chart of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) has changed, but the power of its new number two, Caroline St-Hilaire, has not diminished, assured Wednesday the Minister of International Relations, Martine Biron.

During the study of the appropriations of her ministry in a parliamentary committee, Ms. Biron returned to the modifications made by the Secretary General of La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, just before the appointment of Ms. St-Hilaire in March. The Minister explained that these changes to the organizational chart were part of an approach aimed at improving the governance of the OIF, “in the very broad sense”, and at cleaning up its finances. “You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. So yes, the organizational chart has changed,” she said.

Ms. Biron, however, rejected the hypothesis that these changes would tighten Ms. Mushikiwabo's hold over the OIF representations in a dozen countries and, among other things, over the communications department.

According to the minister, Ms. St-Hilaire has exactly the same responsibilities as her predecessor Geoffroi Montpetit, appointed in 2021, whose contract has not been renewed. “There was no weakening of the task and powers of Caroline St-Hilaire, she said. Moreover, the role of Caroline St-Hilaire has added value because she has a political role that the Secretary General intends to use.

At the end of the parliamentary commission, Ms. Biron however refused to explain to journalists why the changes to the organization chart were made between the departure of Mr. Montpetit and the arrival of Ms. St- Hilaire.

Ms. Mushikiwabo had also made “discretionary appointments” within Ms. St-Hilaire's office before she took office. His firm then assured that they were temporary.

Before its overhaul in March, the organization chart placed the 13 external representations under the responsibility of the administrator, as did the Communications Department. The delegation of powers entrusted on April 4 to Ms. St-Hilaire, which Le Devoir obtained, specifies that “political affairs and communication” remain the responsibility of Ms. Mushikiwabo and her cabinet. p>

Non-partisan appointment

Martine Biron once again had to defend herself for favoring Ms. St-Hilaire, a CAQ candidate in the last election, in the process that led to her appointment. “A partisan appointment is when you appoint someone who is incompetent,” she said.

The Minister of International Relations said she only submitted Ms. St-Hilaire's name as part of the process, but that other candidates had been considered by the Quebec government.

Prior to this appointment — and the non-renewal of Mr. Montpetit's contract — Ms. Biron had expressed Quebec's interest in regaining a more prominent place within the OIF. “I noted that Quebec was nowhere in the territory, nowhere in the management office. »

Ms. Biron admitted that Ms. Mushikiwabo acted faster than she expected in appointing Ms. St-Hilaire. “I thought it would evolve slowly and that we would quietly have a place at the level of the OIF. But the mandate of number two, the administrator of the OIF, was coming to an end, and the secretary general chose not to renew the mandate of Geoffroi Montpetit, who was appointed by Canada.

Ms. Mushikiwabo then chose Ms. St-Hilaire, suggested by Quebec, from a list with another candidate sponsored by Ottawa.

During the parliamentary committee, Liberal MP Michelle Setlakwe expressed concern over a recent intervention by a representative from Ms. St-Hilaire's office, which downgraded the results of a survey of OIF employees that they had been victims of moral and sexual harassment . “The backlash came from an office manager who came to play down the results of this poll. I would have expected from an organization like the OIF that there would be a stronger stance,” she said.

Ms. Biron did not move forward on this review. down from the original results decreed by the OIF. “Those that have been transmitted to me seem overwhelming. »