McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) is pleased to announce the arrival of distinguished writer and journalist, Graham Fraser. With an extensive knowledge of language issues and cultural policy in Québec and Canada, Professor Fraser promises to be an exciting addition to the Faculty of Arts. Now joining McGill University as a visiting professor, Fraser is also a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, and a mentor with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
"I have long been an admirer of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, and I am honoured to be a part of it," said Professor Fraser.
Fraser served as the sixth Commissioner of Official Languages from 2006 to 2016, becoming the longest-serving Commissioner in this post. During his mandate, he actively promoted English and French as Canada’s two official languages and ensured that federal institutions conformed to the standards of the Official Languages Act. Fraser advocated for the rights of linguistic minority communities, intervening before the courts, writing newspaper commentaries, and speaking in public forums across Canada and internationally.
As a seasoned journalist, Fraser has closely followed a number of major political events in Québec’s history. Fraser tracked the Québec election of 1976, witnessing the formation of the first Parti Québécois government, and the introduction of the Charter of the French Language, which declared French as the official language of the Québec provincial government. While working as a reporter for The Gazette, Fraser covered the 1980 referendum in which citizens voted against recognizing Québec as a sovereign nation. With a profound understanding of Québec’s shifting political climate in relation to language, culture and national identity, Fraser promises to bring a unique perspective to Canadian Studies at McGill University.
Professor Fraser will be offering an engaging Fall Semester class that will follow the 2018 election in Québec. The course will examine the role of populism, the influence of social media, and the shifting notions of national identity within Québec elections, both past and present. Fraser has said of this forthcoming experience, "I am excited for the opportunity to spend time in Montréal during an important Québec election, and I am looking forward to working with students and members of the McGill community to deepen my understanding of a number of issues that have interested me for years."
Fraser will be hosting a public lecture on-campus set for September 27th, titled The Long Echo of Québec Student Politics: the Union générale des étudiants du Québec (1964-1969) and its legacy. This lecture will delve into the extensive history of student activism in Québec, and will discuss the broader effects this has had on language and governance issues in the province.
In addition to serving in public office and maintaining an impressive career in journalism and academia, Fraser is the author of five books: Fighting Back: Urban Renewal in Trefann Court (1972), René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois in Power (1984, second edition published in 2001) which was nominated for a Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction; Playing for Keeps: The Making of the Prime Minister (1989); Vous m’intéressez: chroniques (2001); and the bestseller, Sorry, I don’t Speak French; Confronting the Canadian Crisis That Won’t Go Away (2006). In 1982, he was the first recipient of the Hyman Solomon Award for Public Policy Journalism. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, and became a Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Pléiade in 2011 and an Officier de l’Ordre in 2017.