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April 1st 2004

THE OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES FOR NEW BRUNSWICK CELEBRATES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY ON APRIL 1ST, 2004

FREDERICTON, N.B. - April 1, 2004: This Spring day of 2004 marks the first anniversary of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick and of the designation of Michel Carrier as the first Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick. "A considerable part of my time during this first year of operation was taken to set up the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, to establish complaints procedures and to establish a network of cooperation with other organizations and individuals in the area of official languages. Our staff and I also devoted substantial time to the dissemination of information on the Official Languages Act and the role of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

At this time, the Commissioner can only provide a partial appraisal of the work accomplished by his Office to date. A more complete evaluation will be presented in his annual report to the Legislature which should be ready early next fall. However, he is quite proud of the work accomplished in such a short period of time. "I cannot but take note of the positive attitudes demonstrated by the public and governmental institutions regarding the necessity for bilingualism in New Brunswick. Indeed, I am very encouraged by the fact that governmental institutions and individuals in leadership capacities recognize that there is still place for improvement in many areas of service delivery and I sense that there is a genuine willingness on their part to do what is necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Official Languages Act.

Surveys continue to affirm the public's support for bilingualism in the Province and in fact, our own assessment following our meetings and discussions with many New Brunswickers confirm that the public accepts the principle that all citizens of the province must enjoy equal access to services of equal quality in the official language of their choice. That being said, there is still much to be done to ensure that the principles of equality enshrined in the Official Languages Act lead to a genuine equality in the area of official languages. I see my role as Commissioner of Official Languages as one of contributing positively to social changes which reflect these principles of equality."

For Michel Carrier, this positive attitude towards bilingualism augurs well for the Province and for the establishment of conditions and mechanisms that will help New Brunswick compete in the global economy while respecting principles of equality. The Commissioner also appreciates the commitment of some members of the business community to the necessity for businesses to become bilingual. They recognized more and more that bilingualism is a considerable economic advantage in an ever-competing business environment.

"The province of New Brunswick can be proud of its accomplishments in the establishment of official languages. We constitute an example for the rest of the country, a model to emulate with regard to respect for the linguistic rights of the English and French linguistic communities. I consider that our challenge at the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages is to contribute positively in building a society that is open to both its official languages, open to members of the diverse cultures who speak one or both of these languages and open to the world as a whole. We must continue building on our successes in that area."


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For more information, please contact Ronald LeBreton, Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Planning, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, (506) 444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444.