Michaëlle Jean, a former governor-general of Canada and chancellor of the University of Ottawa, has been named the first Canadian and the first woman to lead the Francophonie, an association of countries where French is a national language or is widely spoken.
Canadian media reported that Jean was supported actively for the position by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (an Anglophone), who viewed it as a way to enhance the country’s international image. Canada is the second-highest contributor to the group’s budget.
Jean, who was a journalist in her early career, also served as Unesco’s representative in Canada. She was born in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, in 1957 and moved with her family to Quebec in 1968. Her candidacy for the position of secretary–general of la Francophonie overcame competition from rivals in France and in Lebanon, according to UNforum, a monthly blog published by Samir Sanbar, a former United Nations under secretary-general for information.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, an Egyptian educated in France who now lives in Paris, led the French-speaking organization after retiring as UN secretary-general in 1997.