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QCGN Supports Commissioner’s Call for a More Effective Official Languages Act

Montreal, May 9, 2019 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the Commissioner of Official Languages’ recommendations for a modernized Official Languages Act that further the vitality of linguistic minorities and direct federal institutions to comply with their obligations to the Canadian public.

Commissioner Raymond Théberge today proposed legislative changes and new regulatory frameworks in such areas as justice, communications with and services to the public, governance, compliance, and the advancement of Canada’s two official languages.

The QCGN welcomed Théberge’s call for more clarity and definitions of Part VII of the Act, which sets out the obligation of federal departments and institutions to support the vitality of official language minority communities; and Part VI, which commits the Government of Canada to ensure that English- and French-speaking Canadians have equal opportunities for employment and advancement in federal institutions.

However, we were somewhat disappointed that Commissioner Théberge limited his suggestions to enhancing existing rights. QCGN and our sister organization in French Canada, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA), go much further in seeking fundamental changes that would expand the application of the Act and reinforce our rights. 

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QCGN Applauds Priorities in Commissioner’s Annual Report

Montreal – June 12, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) applauds the priorities set forth in the Annual Report of Canada’s new Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge.

In his report released this morning, the Commissioner said he plans to keep a close watch on how the government coordinates and implements initiatives described in its Action Plan for Official Languages 2018–2023: Investing in Our Future and work to ensure that official languages and linguistic duality continue to be a fundamentally Canadian value and a national priority.

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QCGN Welcomes Raymond Théberge, Canada’s New Commissioner of Official Languages

Download a copy of the press release in PDF

Montreal – December 13, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the appointment of Raymond Théberge as Canada’s 7th Commissioner of Official Languages whose nomination was officially endorsed by the House of Commons this afternoon.

“Commissioner Théberge takes the helm at a critical time for Canada’s Official Languages,” commented QCGN President James Shea, noting that Government of Canada will soon unveil its multi-year Action Plan on Official Languages; Treasury Board is conducting a ground-up review of Official Languages Regulations; and work to modernize the Official Languages Act, which will shortly turn 50 years old, has begun.

Théberge, who holds a doctorate in Linguistics from McGill University, has more than three decades of experience serving official language minority communities from leading positions in government, academia, and the community sector. During his confirmation process, Théberge stressed the importance of research, and a firm evidence-base upon which to protect, and build upon the language rights of Canadians. He is also committed to ensuring that the participation of English and French-speaking Canadians in the leadership of his new office, and visiting the English-speaking community of Quebec as a first order of business.

“Commissioner Théberge is now the leading advocate for Canada’s English- and French-speaking minority communities,” commented Shea, noting that the Commissioner’s job requires an equal understanding and commitment to both of Canada’s official language minority communities.

“We look forward to him visiting Quebec’s English-speaking communities and QCGN is duty-bound to helping him better understand the needs and challenges of our Community of Communities as well as the many enduring policy gaps that impact our community.”

Traditionally held alternately by a French-speaking and an English-speaking Canadian, Théberge is the third Francophone and first commissioner from outside Ontario and Quebec to be appointed to the post since it was created in 1970 to ensure the application of the Official Languages Act and to promote bilingualism and linguistic duality. The Commissioner, who reports directly to Parliament, is responsible for the full recognition and widespread use of English and French within Canadian society, as well as within federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act.  The Commissioner of Official Languages is appointed for a seven-year mandate.

“Over the past decade, the QCGN has built a close relationship with the Commissioner of Official Languages,” remarked QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “This relationship was a critical part of key community victories, like the recent establishment of a Secretariat for Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, and helping us get access to the highest levels of the federal government to ensure English-speaking Quebec’s unique concerns and priorities are heard and understood by policy leaders.

“The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages remains a key community ally and immense source of support, and we will continue to fully support their work,” said Martin-Laforge, extending our organization’s and our community’s appreciation to Interim Commissioner Ghislaine Saikaley and her team who have held down the fort since Graham Fraser retired a year ago after more than a decade of outstanding service.

Official languages: doubts on Raymond Théberge’s approach

“Le deuxième candidat choisi par Justin Trudeau pour occuper le poste de commissaire aux langues officielles s’en est mieux tiré que la candidate initiale pour le poste au jeu des questions et réponses à la chambre haute, même si des sénateurs ont émis des doutes sur sa capacité d’assumer pleinement son rôle de chien de garde”

Raymond Théberge, the second candidate chosen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be the next Commissioner of Official Languages, has been seen to do a better job than the previous candidate at his appearance in front of the full Senate. However, some Senators, such as Serge Joyal, stated Théberge will lack the punch necessary for a language watchdog. Théberge is scheduled to meet this afternoon with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Even if the opposition parties are more inclined about Théberge’s nomination, NDP Official Languages critic François Choquette said he will issue a complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The complaint follows Mélanie Joly’s refusal to address recommendations made by NDP former leader Thomas Mulcair asking that she consults with the two national organizations representing official language minority communities.

Read the article written by La Presse Canadienne in Acadie Nouvelle

Waiting for nomination of Canada’s next commissioner of official languages

“Qui succèdera à Graham Fraser à la tête du Commissariat aux langues officielles (CLO) du Canada? Quasiment trois mois jour pour jour après avoir relancé le processus à la suite de la nomination avortée de Madeleine Meilleur, le gouvernement n’a toujours pas annoncé le nom d’un nouveau commissaire aux langues officielles.”

Trudeau’s government are saying that the selection process to find Canada’s next official languages commissioner is going well, which raises doubts among Official Languages critics Alupa Clarke and François Choquette.

The latter also asked for the Prime Minister to meet with official language minority communities and the designated groups that represent them, FCFA and the QCGN, to talk about the selection process.

Read the article on #ONfr website

Madeleine Meilleur withdraws as candidate for language commissioner

“Madeleine Meilleur has pulled out of the running for the job of Canada’s language commissioner, saying the controversy surrounding her candidacy has compromised her ability to do the job.”

Faced with increasingly difficult question about the process of her nomination, Madeleine Meilleur recused from her bid to the Official Languages post via a letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly. Minister Joly expressed her deception for this turn of events.

Her lack of knowledge about the minority situation in Quebec was also questionable. Three complaints were filed to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and another was in the plan from the QCGN. The English-speaking group was surprised to learn from Meilleur’s lack of understanding.

Read the article in the Montreal Gazette

 

Madeleine Meilleur takes herself out of the running for languages commissioner job

“Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly says her controversial pick for the position of official languages commissioner is withdrawing her candidacy.”

In a letter to the Minister, Madeleine Meilleur expressed regrets for the controversy surrounding her nominations, and also concluded that her ability to perform would have been compromised. Opposition Leader, Andrew Scheer, mentioned that such appointment embarrassed the current government.

Community groups from both minority languages in Canada welcomed Meilleur’s decision to back down. Vice president Geoffrey Chambers felt relieved of such conclusion, since the process itself was the problem. Starting it over again might lead to less disappointment if all parties are consulted, he added.

Read the article on CBC News website

Quebec anglos need to push for their rights: Official Languages Commissioner

“Quebec anglophones, like French-speakers elsewhere in Canada, need to be vigilant about ensuring their rights and needs are respected, says Canada’s outgoing Commissioner of Official Languages.”

The Montreal Gazette editorial board interviewed Graham Fraser as he concludes his 10-year mandate as Commissioner of Official Languages.

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Official languages, “yes sir”

“Il en faut, de l’acharnement, pour occuper le siège de commissaire aux langues officielles dans ce pays : la défense des droits linguistiques des minorités, en particulier les francophones hors Québec, exige une volonté à toute épreuve.”

As Graham Fraser leaves office, Marco Fortier reviews the ten-year legacy of the exiting Commissioner of Official Languages. On the subject, QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge mentions that linguistic rights are something that need to be used, to be kept alive. She thanks Graham for his last 10 years of service.

Read the article in Le Devoir

Minority report

By Melanie Scott, The Low Down to Hull and Back News

In an ideal world, minorities and citizens who don’t get heard wouldn’t need to be represented by organizations. We wouldn’t need a Status of Women department. Or Children’s Aid. Or the Canadian Council for Refugees. Or the Fédération des communautés Francophones et Acadienne du Canada.

We need these organizations to help ensure that the voices of everyone are considered when it comes to access to services and human rights.

Anyone who witnessed the mass escape-from-Montreal by the Anglo community in Montreal in 1976 will recall the outrage of those Anglos – especially the very privileged who had plenty of money to take with them. They were content with the Francophone community being a ‘minority’ (which is how that community was treated by many Anglophones). As long as the Anglo businesses were thriving, everything was just tickety-boo.

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