Canada drops support for Michaelle Jean in la Francophonie re-election
Published Tuesday, October 9, 2018 4:43PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 9, 2018 5:49PM EDT
OTTAWA – The federal government and the incumbent government in Quebec have announced they will not be supporting former governor general Michaelle Jean's re-election as the head of la Francophonie.
Jean had been campaigning to hold on to her position as Secretary General of la Francophonie—a group of 54 French-speaking nations—but was facing a strong opponent in Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
CTV News has confirmed that Canada will no longer be backing Jean's bid and instead will join "the consensus view" of the organization, which is increasingly favoring Mushikiwabo, who counts France and the entire African Union among those supporting her bid.
In a statement, Jeremy Ghio, the press secretary to Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Minister Melanie Joly, said that while they respect Jean’s track record, Canada will “join the consensus view” on the best candidate for the role.
The organization is holding a summit this week in Armenia, where they are set to select the new Secretary General, a position Jean has held since 2014.
"We want the summit to be a success, and preserve the ability for leaders to discuss important shared priorities. Canada will continue to promote our French language and culture around the world, human rights and shared economic growth within the Francophonie and on the international stage," Ghio said.
In a tweet, CAQ leader and premier-designate Francois Legault said that his government would not support Jean's re-election bid either. Both he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are departing together for the summit Tuesday evening.
In the last few months Jean has had to defend herself from a series of stories about her alleged improper and excessive spending. Jean has called the media reports "smear campaigns, disinformation and defamation."
A source familiar with the file told CTV News that while the question of her expenses was a factor in the government's decision—and was something that became an issue in Quebec and with some of the organization's countries— Jean was out-campaigned.
The decision to no longer support Jean's candidacy was made on Tuesday, after Joly arrived in Armenia for the summit. There, it became clear that Jean was not going to win, though her re-election chances were already looking “very bad,” based on conversations with la Francophonie countries in advance of the gathering, according to the source.
With files from The Canadian Press