SUMMERSIDE – The hiring of a new communications and cultural affairs coordinator at P.E.I.’s French language school board is causing concern among some members of the francophone community.
Both the creation of that position and the hiring of Daniel Bourgeois to fill it were announced last week by the board. It was met with worries about a potential conflict of interest.
Bourgeois has held a number of leadership positions in the Acadian and francophone community in the past, including as executive director of both the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin and La Belle-Alliance. However, he is also the husband of board superintendent Anne Bernard-Bourgeois.
The optics of the hiring has created enough concern in the community that the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, an advocacy organization for P.E.I.’s Acadians, felt it needed to respond.
Guy LaBonte, president of the society, delivered a letter voicing those concerns to the school board.
“We felt we had to take a position because of how strong the reaction had been from the community,” said LaBonte.
“We asked them to reevaluate their processes and look at them with a lens on a potential conflict of interest.”
LaBonte added that he hopes whatever the board decides to do will be communicated to the community.
However, Emile Gallant, president of the school board, said he is satisfied that appropriate measures were used to avoid any conflict in terms of Bourgeois’ hiring and future work for the organization.
He said that Bourgeois was hired by the board without any input from Bernard-Bourgeois and that future staff supervisory requirements will be carried out by the their human resources department or someone else within the organization.
“We feel he was the best candidate following his interview and that’s why we at the board decided to hire him, because of his expertise,” said Gallant.
“I feel we’ve done everything possible to make sure this was done properly,” he added.