The Quebec Community Groups Network expressed its deep sadness at the passing of Max Yalden, Canada’s second Commissioner of Official Languages.
Maxwell Freeman Yalden, who was the Commissioner of Official Languages from 1977 until 1984, was a civil servant and diplomat working in Moscow, Paris and Brussels before serving as Canada’s second Commissioner of Official Languages. Following his stint as Commissioner, he spent time in Belgium and Luxembourg before becoming Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (1984 to 2000). In 1988 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1999.
Yalden lived through interesting times, beginning his mandate as Quebec’s controversial Bill 101 came into force – a time when his diplomatic skills came in handy. Current Commissioner Graham Fraser remarked that Yalden helped mitigate the backlash against the Official Languages Act and that he brought attention to the need to review the Act to ensure that it complied with the language provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Fraser also notes that Yalden successfully pushed for amendments to Canada’s language laws to emphasize the rights of minority groups such as Franco-Manitobans, but that he also noted Quebec had more to do to protect its Anglophone communities.
Yalden was on hand for the 15th anniversary of the Quebec Community Groups Network as he participated in celebrations that marked the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act
The QCGN extends its sympathies to the Yalden family.