Canadian Heritage

Canadian Heritage

October 29, 2009 10:57 ET

Designations to the Language Rights Support Program's Panel of Experts

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 29, 2009) - The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today was pleased to announce the names of the people who will serve on the Panel of Experts of the Language Rights Support Program (LRSP).

The Panel of Experts will play a crucial role in implementing the LRSP and in its ongoing activities. It will be responsible for guiding Program efforts and selecting files to be supported. The Panel members were selected following consultations with the Federation des communautes francophones et acadienne du Canada, the Quebec Community Groups Network, and the Canadian Bar Association.

The Panel members are:

- Johanne Dumas, British Columbia;

- Neil Turcotte, Saskatchewan;

- David Dandeneau, Manitoba;

- J.L. Gilles LeVasseur, Ontario;

- Michelle Vaillancourt, Ontario;

- Richard McConomy, Quebec;

- Brad McDonald, Quebec;

- Maurice F. Bourque, New Brunswick; and

- Ali Chaisson, Newfoundland and Labrador.

"With this announcement, which gives the University of Ottawa the green light to proceed with the implementation of the program, we have met our commitment to implement the new Program by the end of 2009," said Minister Moore. "I believe that the new Program will greatly benefit from the diverse skills and experience of everyone on the Panel."

In September 2009, Minister Moore announced that the University of Ottawa had been selected to manage the LRSP. Its mandate is to implement the Program according to guidelines established by the Department of Canadian Heritage. Panel members are totally independent from the Minister, reporting only to the University.

The LRSP seeks to promote awareness of language rights through public education, to offer access to alternative dispute resolution processes to settle out of court, and to support litigation that helps to advance and clarify constitutional language rights when test cases are involved and dispute resolution efforts have not resolved matters.

This news release is also available online at under Media Room.


Johanne Dumas

Originally from Montreal, Johanne Dumas has lived in British Columbia for 15 years. She prides herself on her contributions to the cultural fabric of her community of Maillardville, as well as to her province, as the Executive and Artistic Director of the Societe francophone de Maillardville. Whether it is on the B.C. Multicultural Advisory Committee, the Coquitlam Festival Planner Network, the Fondation Maillardville du Canada, or the Maillardville Revitalisation Advisory Committee, Ms. Dumas continues to be recognized by her peers and colleagues as a champion in her field.

Neil Turcotte

Neil Turcotte obtained his Bachelor of Arts cum laude in 1984 and then completed a Bachelor of Laws in 1989 from the University of Saskatchewan. He has practiced law since he was admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan in 1990. In 1999, he joined his present firm MacPherson, Leslie & Tyerman and became a partner in 2001. He has obtained his certifications as a Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer. Since 1996, he has been the coach of the Laskin Moot team at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan. He is active in the Canadian Bar Association and is President of the Saskatchewan division of the Conference des juristes d'expression francaise de la Saskatchewan. He is a member of the Board of the Association des juristes d'expression francaise de la Saskatchewan, a member of the Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers' Association, and a member of Collaborative Lawyers of Saskatchewan Inc. Mr. Turcotte is an active member of the Francophone community of Saskatoon.

David Dandeneau

David Dandeneau was born in Fisher Branch, Manitoba, son of a French Canadian Metis father and a Dutch mother. His first nine years of schooling took place in English because education in French in Manitoba was not yet legal. He continued his secondary and university studies at the College universitaire de Saint-Boniface (CUSB). With a Certificate in Education from the CUSB, he taught in French and French Immersion schools, worked at the Manitoba Department of Education and, finally, as the Director of the Development Office of the CUSB. Mr. Dandeneau is a founding member of several Francophone community organizations such as the Maison Gabrielle-Roy, the Conseil Elzear Goulet and the Corporation de developpement economique de Saint-Boniface. More recently, he founded Heritage Saint-Boniface to save the first French and English teachers' college of Western Canada, turning it into the Centre d'interpretation sur les droits linguistiques et scolaires du Manitoba.

J.L. Gilles LeVasseur

J.L. Gilles LeVasseur, lawyer and university professor of law, management, and economics, is actively involved in files related to constitutional language rights in Canada. He is a member of both the Ontario and Quebec Bar associations and has numerous university degrees. Mr. LeVasseur is President of the Conseil de la cooperation de l'Ontario and of the Regroupement des organismes du patrimoine franco-ontarien. He has published eight books of which three directly address the situation of Francophones in Ontario and Canada. For over 25 years, he has been an active member of key organizations working to promote the French language in Ontario and Canada. He received the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for his contributions to the preservation of Franco-Ontarian heritage and the Queen's Jubilee medal for his contributions to the Canadian Francophonie. He was also awarded the Seraphin Marion award for his outstanding contribution to the development of Francophones outside Quebec.

Michelle Vaillancourt

Michelle Vaillancourt is senior litigation counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission since November 2007. She was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1995 and to the Bar of Alberta in 2007. Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Vaillancourt was a partner at Heenan Blaikie where her practice was focused on language rights and education law. Ms. Vaillancourt has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, as well as courts of first instance in Ontario and Alberta. She is the past president of the Official Languages Committee of the Ontario Bar Association and is a member of the board of directors of the Centre francophone of Toronto, where she provides assistance in a French legal aid clinic.

Richard McConomy

Richard McConomy has been an attorney since 1971 and has practiced family law and general litigation for 38 years. Mr. McConomy was Batonnier of the Bar of Montreal in 1996-1997. During his legal career, Mr. McConomy has pleaded cases that established jurisprudence in many areas. He has held the position of President of the Family Law Committee of the Canadian Bar Association and as such helped to create the Child Support Guidelines. Mr. McConomy has been a pioneer in the mediation movement. His career has also included an educational focus as he has assisted in the training of almost 1000 mediators in Canada, the United States, Belgium, and France. As a volunteer, he has held important community positions, such as the President of Centraide Montreal and the President of the United Way of Canada. He has been the volunteer legal advisor to the St-Patrick's Day Parade for almost 40 years.

Brad McDonald

Brad McDonald is Vice-President at Francoeur McDonald, a project management, communications, and marketing firm. Since 2005, he has served as a municipal councillor for the city of Gaspe. Mr. McDonald was educated at Vanier College in Montreal, the Royal Military College of Canada, and at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. During his career, he has worked as a member of the Canadian Forces, nurse, teacher, personal development planner, and political aide. As a project manager and as a volunteer board member, Mr. McDonald has worked to promote and improve the delivery of services (primarily health and social services) to English speakers in the region.

Maurice F. Bourque

Maurice F. Bourque was born in Edmundston, New Brunswick. Mr. Bourque received a degree in History from the Universite Laval in Quebec in 1970. He then taught history at the University of Moncton during the 1970-71 school year. In June 1971, he became Chief of Staff for the Honourable Jean-Maurice Simard, New Brunswick's Finance Minister. In 1973, he began studies at the University of New Brunswick and received his Bachelor of Laws in 1976. Since then, Mr. Bourque has had a career as a lawyer and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1993. Over the years, he has been an enthusiastic promoter of the French fact for Acadians in New Brunswick and has argued a language case before the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1987, he founded the Association des juristes d'expression francaise du Nouveau-Brunswick and was President for three years.

Ali Chaisson

An Acadian from Cape St. George in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Chaisson is President of the consulting firm groupe OPTIONS group Inc., which specializes in international business and the field of strategic watch. He holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Moncton in Social Sciences, with a specialty in Political Science. Mr. Chaisson is a certified Karrass ® negotiator, a seasoned project manager, and a professional facilitator. Mr. Chaisson currently represents French interests in Canada's hydrocarbon industry. He is former CEO of PDI Production Inc. and former Director General of the Federation des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador and Franco-Jeunes de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
    and Official Languages
    Deirdra McCracken - Director of Communications
    Canadian Heritage
    Media Relations