Chapeau, Jean-Marc. Hats off, Jean-Marc


Francophone pride has been at the heart of almost everything Jean-Marc Lalonde has been involved in and throughout much of his political career. It is one of the main reasons behind his recent nomination to the Order of Canada. “It’s an honour to receive this award from the Right Honourable David John- ston, the Governor General,” Lalonde said. “However, it’s important to remember that we don’t work (in politics) to attain these kind of honours. But the fact that one is recognized is a bit thrilling.” During his 16 years in the provincial legislature as MPP for Glengarry-Prescott- Russell, Lalonde was well-known for his work in promoting and preserving French language, culture, and issues in Ontario. He co-founded l’Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario (AFMO) and he was involved at the start of the Parlement jeunesse francophone de l’Ontario. For

many years, he fought hard for official rec- ognition of the Franco-Ontario flag. Much of Lalonde’s involvement with French-language rights and promotion in Ontario stems from a source very close to his heart, his beloved wife, Gisèle. He agrees that without her influence, hemight not have paid quite so much attention to language rights concerns. “She was very strong-minded about the French language,” he recalled. “She was working at the time for the national defence department and, I think, at that time, French language equality wasn’t a very high priority. She often told me about how frustrating it was for her.» In addition to his various legislative duties, Lalonde, at one point, was charged with a diplomatic mission which resulted in a 30-country tour promoting la fran- cophonie in general and Franco-Ontario in particular around the world.

Jean-Marc Lalonde receives his Order of Canada medal fromGovernor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall. —photo Véronique Charron

and it must be promoted. We must contin- ue to improve access to French-language services. I’ve always said that the gateway to the East is just the other side of Chute- à-Blondeau and also that beside the big billboards which say Welcome to Ontario there should also hang a Franco-Ontario flag as part of marketing our province.” Looking back, Lalonde declared that Ontario has made real strides in language- rights issues and that it will continue to do so as more and more parents come to realize that their children’s future chances of success involving developing bilingual skills and being comfortable in both offi- cial languages of Canada.

“The main reason for my trips abroad was to help make Ontario better know elsewhere,” he said. “For most people, Ontario was known as an English province of Canada. I remember one time when I was in Armenia, and the people there real- ized I was both French and Canadian, they then assumed that I was from Québec. I explained that, no, I was from Ontario. So then they would ask ‘In what part of Qué- bec is Ontario?’” Lalonde also mused about what the state of affairs was for many Franco-Ontar- ians at home in their own province, most of all for some of seniors who might have little or no English-language skills. “The French language is very important

To complete his induction, Jean-Marc Lalonde signs his name into the official registry of the Order of Canada. -photo Véronique Charron

Félicitations à Jean-Marc Lalonde pour cet honneur. De la part des résidents et tout le personnel du Manoir.

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