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QCGN Highly Critical of CAQ Government’s Bill 96

Panelists suggest Trudeau’s support is motivated by ‘political calculation’

After more than a half-century of rising and falling tensions between Quebecers over the use of English and French, concerns are rising among stakeholders that some rights and protections Quebec anglophones fought for since the introduction of Bill 101 more than 40 years ago are threatened by Quebec’s proposed Bill 96 and changes to Ottawa’s Official Languages Act.

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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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Des Anglo-Québécois inquiets face à la modernisation de la loi sur les langues officielles et au projet de loi 96

“It is no longer a question of modernizing the Official Languages ​​Act. We have returned to the negotiation of the partnership between French and English in Canada,” QCGN President Marlene Jennings says of Bill 96 before the Senate Committee of Official Languages.

Jennings comments that the Trudeau government is proposing to “territorialize language rights by crushing the vision of linguistic duality in our country.”

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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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Ottawa launching bursary fund to help anglophone postsecondary students study in French

Announcement comes amid debate over state of French language and push to update Official Languages Act.

The federal government will spend $12 million over the next four years on bursaries to help English-speaking students pursue post-secondary education in French.

Approximately 3,400 bursaries worth $3,000 each will be available to anglophone secondary school graduates who enrol in French-language programs at select CEGEPs, colleges or universities. The government says the funding will be disbursed through post-secondary institutions and special consideration will be given to students from under-represented groups.

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UnpublishedTV: Is the French Language in decline in Quebec?  

(VIDEO) The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is uncomfortable with the direction the federal government has chosen regarding proposed changes to the Official Languages Act, QCGN Board member Eva Ludvig says during a videocast panel discussion on Unpublished TV.

“What is being introduced is really changing the dynamics between English-and French-speaking people in this country and changing a pillar of Canadian society,” Ludvig says. The nation’s sustained effort over more than half a century to create a balance with the two official languages, English and French, has used “an equal basis” as one of its policy cornerstones, she adds. Now, the changes proposed by Ottawa have in effect “really relegated the English language and the English-speaking minority in Quebec… to a lesser status,” Ludvig adds: “That is not what official languages is about, not what the country has bought into, nor what it has celebrated.”

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Event: The Official Languages Act and Quebec’s English-speaking Community

Date: Thursday March 25
Time: 5 to 6 p.m.

As part of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s effort to better inform our community about its language rights, we are hosting a series of webinars. This second in the series The Official Languages Act and Quebec’s English-speaking Community will feature journalist, author and lecturer Graham Fraser, the former Commission of Official Languages.

Canada’s longest service Commission of Official Languages, Graham Fraser intervened in many judicial cases in Canada in order to defend the linguistic rights of Canadians. In 2007, he intervened in a case which opposed the abolition of the Court Challenges Program which led to the official languages minority component of the program being restored under the Language Rights Support Program. Fraser also appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as a co-appellant in the DesRochers (CALDECH) case, which resulted in the Court’s broadening the interpretation of Part IV of the Official Languages Act and recognizing the public’s right to receive service of equal quality in both official languages. In 2008, he intervened in the Nguyen case, in which the Supreme Court’s interpretation took into account the interests of official language communities with regard to the rights guaranteed by section 23 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Since leaving his post as Commissioner, Fraser has lectured on language policy in universities across Canada. He is a Senior Fellow, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and was a visiting professor at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He is currently editing the diary that F. R. Scott kept during the years of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.

Register here to received the secure link to attend.

New official languages plan aims to end the decline of French in Canada

The federal government recently unveiled an ambitious new official languages plan to modernize the 51-year-old Official Languages Act.

It’s the most significant proposal on the status of French and English in Canada since the 1982 enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which entrenched the main provisions of the 1969 Official Languages Act in the Canadian Constitution. The last major reform to the act was in 1988.

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White paper on the Official Languages Act gets mixed reception from language equality advocates

On February 19, the federal government released its long-awaited policy document outlining reforms to modernize the Official Languages Act, following consultations across the country. However, the document entitled, English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada, has received mixed responses from language advocates.

Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge says he is pleased to see that the principle of substantive equality between English and French is the central element of the reforms. Similarly, Jean Johnson, the President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, has voiced his support for the proposals.

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FEDERALLY REGULATED BUSINESSES AND THE NEW OFFICIAL LANGUAGES LANDSCAPE

In Quebec, language rights are provided to most workers under the Charter of the French Language. This differs for people who are employed by a federal institution, a Canadian Crown Corporation, or Air Canada. Their language rights are defined under the Official Languages Act (OLA).

However, the language rights of about 135,000 employees at an estimated 1,760 federally regulated private businesses in Quebec are not currently subject either the OLA or the Quebec Charter. This represents about 4.4 per cent of the province’s workforce.

So there is a ‘mischief’ in the law.

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