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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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Is it time to give more teeth to Canada’s Official Languages Act?

Is it time to give more teeth to Canada’s Official Languages Act? Many experts think so, and some suggest the creation of an administrative tribunal.

The Fédération canadienne des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) disagrees.

“The history of this Act is the story of half a century of infractions and of an incomplete implementation”, commented FCFA President Jean Johnson last spring while testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages.

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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