Carrying on a process that has been happening in the background of federal and provincial political discussions for the last three years or so, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO), and the Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) have been on tour since the summer trying to get the modernization of Canada’s Official Languages Act to be a priority for the country’s next government.”The Official Languages Act really needs to be brought up to date,” said Geoffrey Chambers, President of the QCGN, in a group interview with The Record last week. Joined by Carol Jolin, President of the AFO, and Ali Chaisson, Executive Director of the SANB, the QCGN president echoed words previously related by Raymond Théberge, Canada’s Commissioner of Official Langauges, in saying that the 50 year old piece of legislation is long overdue for an overhaul.
The QCGN, the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario and the Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick are teaming up to demand parties involved in the Oct. 21 federal election commit to strengthening the Official Languages Act by imposing stiffer sanctions on offenders. “There’s a high degree of consensus on what should be done with the act. We would like that consensus converted into an undertaking by the parties in the election, and then an actual adoption of measures in the new parliament,” Geoffrey Chambers, president of the QCGN, told the Montreal Gazette in an editorial board interview on Thursday.
Marking the 50th anniversary of Canada’s Official Languages Act, Radio-Canada takes an in-depth look at the vitality of Canada’s linguistic minority communities. Many issues are on the table for Quebec’s English-speaking community, says Geoffrey Chambers, president of the Quebec Community Groups Network. Among them, he adds, is the need for an administrative tribunal to give the Act additional teeth.
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Brief Submitted to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages
Study on Canadians’ Views about Modernizing the Official Languages Act
Founded in 1995, the QCGN is a not-for-profit organization linking more than 56 English- language community organizations across Quebec.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (“QCGN”) welcomes this opportunity to contribute to this Committee’s study on modernizing the Official Languages Act (“the Act”). In the spirit of modernization, the QCGN takes this opportunity to present a picture of the contemporary English-speaking community of Quebec. As this Committee noted in 2011, there are certain widely-held myths regarding this community. The QCGN hopes to contribute to a modernized understanding of this community and its role as a unique and important official language minority community in Canada. In this regard, the QCGN puts forward three propositions:
- 1) The English-speaking community of Quebec is a unique official language minority community;
- 2) The English-speaking community of Quebec has transformed into a diverse, bilingual and resilient community, but public perception has not kept pace;
- 3) The vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec does not threaten French in Quebec.
The Official Languages Act is a lifeline for English-speaking Quebec. The Act is the only language rights legislation that protects the interests of English-speaking Quebecers as a community. The Act sets out quasi-constitutional rights for English-speaking Quebecers, including the right to access federal services in English, the representation of English-speakers in the federal public service, and the right to work in English in the federal public service. Further, the Act provides the framework for much-needed financial support for the community’s institutions and networks.
In this brief, the QCGN presents proposals for a modernized Act.
Download Complete Brief (PDF)