QCGN Statement on Government of Canada’s Proposed Changes to the Official Languages Act

The Quebec Community Groups Network recognizes the federal bill tabled this morning in the House of Commons to amend the Official Languages Act for what it is – a clear attack on the equality of Canada’s official languages.

Traditionally, the Official Languages Act has given life to constitutional official language rights. These rights define much of the relationship between Canadians and our federal government. The Act has been grounded on the principle that English and French are equal in law.

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QCGN Supports Commissioner’s Call for Symmetry in the Official Languages Act

Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge is advising the federal government to maintain the equal status of French and English in its coming changes to the Official Languages Act. The Quebec Community Groups Network enthusiastically endorses this advice.

In his annual report tabled in the House of Commons today, Commissioner Théberge said he is “pleased to see that the Government of Canada’s proposed overhaul is based on the principle of substantive equality, because beyond guaranteeing the equal status of English and French, the new Act must provide the means to actually achieve this equality.”

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The first census in North America was conducted in 1666 by the Intendant of New France, Jean Talon. Going door to door, he recorded the names, ages, genders, and occupations of members of the population. This was the beginning of the national census that would eventually serve as a great contributor to our social development and to advancement in Canadian society.

Of course, there have been changes to the census over the years to reflect the changing Canadian landscape and to collect as much evidence as possible about the population. As the government looks to improve the lives of its citizens, the census helps to identify key socioeconomic trends in Canadian society. This, in turn, provides the government with vital information it can use to make decisions on national needs to be addressed.

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Canada’s Constitution includes an ‘entrenched’ bill of rights; the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our Charter comprises 34 sections of the Constitution Act, 1982. Thus, it enshrines our fundamental freedoms and rights. These include our democratic, mobility, legal, equality, and official language rights.

With Confederation, the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty (or supremacy) in the Westminster tradition of government was adopted by Canada and the provinces. In its purest form, a legislature can enactor repeal any law it chooses. From the beginning, this doctrine has been limited by Canada’s federal framework, which allocates legislative powers between the national government and the provinces.

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Brief – Expert Panel on Language of Work and Service in Federally Regulated Private Businesses

By The Honourable Marlene Jennings, P.C. President, and Kevin Shaar, Vice-President

Canada has two official languages and two official language minorities.

In its recent paper on official languages, English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official
Languages in Canada
, the Government of Canada makes a legislative proposal to increase the use of
French in federally regulated private enterprises. The paper outlines specific proposals to provide rights
to work and rights to services in French – but not in English – in federally regulated private businesses in
Quebec and in regions with a strong Francophone presence.

The Government of Canada’s proposal to grant language rights to one language group and not the other
runs counter to the purpose of the
Official Languages Act and offends the government’s constitutional
obligation to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada. It also poses
significant challenges for the substantive equality of the English-speaking minority in Quebec.

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Large consensus Around the Protection of the French Language

Eight of every 10 Quebecers surveyed consider that the French language needs to be protected in Quebec. Among non-francophones, 42 per cent agree.

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The OQLF gets a Significant Funding Increase… & What Sort of Money are Anglo Groups Getting?

(AUDIO) A significant increase starting next year in funding for French-language protection agencies forms an element of Quebec’s latest budget, note Marlene Jennings, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), and Liberal MNA Greg Kelley, Official Opposition critic for relations with English-speaking Quebecers. Both are guests on CJAD’s Montreal Now show to discuss changes in language funding announced in Thursday’s budget. The budget also includes a small increase in funding for Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

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Wading Through Language Issues

(VIDEO) Kevin Shaar, constitutional lawyer at the Quebec Community Groups Network, talks about languages acts and different jurisdictions with CTV news anchor Mutsumi Takahashi.

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Opinion : Bilingual Juges… Almost

In this opinion piece by Patrice Garant, a public law professor, explains the principle of judicial independence mentioned by former Quebec Court Judge Claude Laporte in a recent article. M. Garant also supports the constitutional right Quebec citizens have to use either French or English in courts.

Difficile de se faire servir en français dans des commerces en Outaouais?

Des propos du directeur général de la Chambre de commerce de Gatineau sur les services en français dans des commerces suscitent de fortes réactions dans la région.

Le directeur général de la Chambre de commerce de Gatineau, Stefan Psenak, a laissé entendre au Téléjournal Ottawa-Gatineau, mardi, que les consommateurs étaient mieux servis en français dans l’est ontarien qu’en Outaouais.

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