Fifty years ago, New Brunswick became an officially bilingual province. A law was passed and a movement of equality was launched. The Official Languages Act has transformed this province.
I was a young adult in 1969, and I can attest to the tremendous progress we have made. In this province today, public services are generally provided in both official languages. Our two linguistic communities have distinct institutions to ensure their development. Anglophones and Francophones are present in all areas of activity and at all levels of responsibility, and the bilingual nature of our province generates significant economic benefits for all. So much has been accomplished in this half century!
This fiftieth anniversary must first be an opportunity to pay tribute to visionaries: premiers Louis J. Robichaud and Richard Hatfield. Both were driven by the same vision, that is, two equal, dynamic linguistic communities, living in harmony. Over the last five decades, English and French New Brunswickers have embraced this vision, and through their hard work have ensured that it has flourished. Today, we thank all these stakeholders, teachers, elected officials, civil servants, jurists and citizens who have greatly helped to make this noble project a reality.
A sign of respect, a symbol of equality, and an instrument of unity, the Official Languages Act has contributed to make our province a great place to live. Although some challenges remain, our past successes give us the greatest hopes for the future.
New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province. We must continue to be a model for our country.
We have come a long way and together, we will go further. Happy 50th anniversary!
Michel A. Carrier, Q.C.