April 1, 2014

Language commissioners meet in Barcelona for the inaugural conference of the International Association of Language Commissioners

Fredericton, March 31, 2014 – Language commissioners from around the world gathered on March 21, 2014, in Barcelona, Spain for the inaugural conference of the newly established International Association of Language Commissioners (IALC).

Participants at the conference came from places as varied as Finland, Hungary, Kosovo and Ireland. They discussed issues such as language rights and challenges in an era of globalization and the impact of minority-language education on the preservation and advancement of minority languages. Case studies on the impact of investigations conducted by commissioners’ offices on language rights were also discussed. In addition, round-table discussions were held on the role that the IALC can play in sharing investigation best practices and in promoting language-related research.

During this event, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, gave a presentation on the role of Francophone schools in the protection and development of the francophone community in this province.  ‘’Duality within the school system provides a solid foundation for the development of the Francophone and Acadian community of New Brunswick,” she explained. “Our provincial education system generates tremendous interest in other parts of the world as it could serve as a model in multilingual countries.’’

“It has been a great privilege to have our inaugural conference in Barcelona” said Graham Fraser, Chairman of the IALC. “We all appreciated the great hospitality of our host, the Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó”. The IALC was created last May in Dublin, Ireland. Its mission is to support and advance language rights, equality and diversity throughout the world and to help language commissioners work to the highest professional standards. This will be achieved by:

• Sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge of best practices;
• Advising and assisting in the establishment of language commissioners’ offices;
• Facilitating an exchange of training and professional development resources, research and information;
• Cooperating with like-minded organizations that value the promotion and protection of language rights and diversity.

Current membership in the IALC includes representatives from regions and countries with language commissioners, including Catalonia, Wales, Ireland, Kosovo, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Canada (including New Brunswick, Ontario, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories).

The next IALC conference will take place in Ottawa, Canada, in the spring of 2015.

Information

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

February 19, 2014

Official Languages Commissioner announces a contest for youth

Fredericton, February 19, 2014 – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner, Katherine d’Entremont, is inviting young New Brunswickers under the age of 19 to take part in a contest on the twotalk.ca website. Eligible participants will be entered into a draw for a chance to win one of five 16-GB Apple iPad Air tablets.

Fredericton, February 19, 2014 – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner, Katherine d’Entremont, is inviting young New Brunswickers under the age of 19 to take part in a contest on the twotalk.ca website. Eligible participants will be entered into a draw for a chance to win one of five 16-GB Apple iPad Air tablets.

“A key role of the Commissioner is to promote the advancement of both official languages in the province,” said Katherine d’Entremont. “The twotalk.ca website is our main tool for promoting bilingualism and language vitality among young people. It’s chock full of resources, and we want it to be the go-to site for young New Brunswickers to broaden their knowledge of one of the most important features of New Brunswick – being the only officially bilingual province in Canada.’’

The contest runs until March 22, 2014. To participate, young New Brunswickers are asked to visit the contest page on the twotalk.ca website and answer the weekly question. A total of five questions will be asked.

“The twotalk.ca website features a wide range of content designed specifically for a young audience,” said d'Entremont. “It offers humorous video clips, testimonials from young New Brunswickers, and language quizzes.”

The contest is made possible with the financial support of a Canada-New Brunswick Agreement. Visit twotalk.ca for the full contest rules. Please note that parental consent is required to participate.

For more information

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506 444-4229
Hugues.beaulieu@gnb.ca

August 16, 2013

Access to justice in both official languages: The commissioners urge the federal Minister of Justice to take action

For immediate release 

Access to justice in both official languages: The commissioners urge the federal Minister of Justice to take action

Ottawa, August 16, 2013 — The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada and his counterparts from Ontario and New Brunswick are recommending that the federal Minister of Justice take 10 measures to ensure Canadians have access to justice in both official languages. These recommendations are the result of a joint study on the bilingual capacity of Canada’s superior courts, which was released today by the three commissioners.

“In a country that proudly claims linguistic duality is a fundamental value and an essential part of its identity, no one should have to deal with delays and additional costs because they chose to be heard in English or French,” said Graham Fraser. 

The three commissioners reviewed the judicial appointment process for superior courts as well as the language training available to judges. The study found that the appointment process does not allow for a sufficient number of judges with the language skills needed to hear citizens in the minority official language.

“Currently, there is no coordinated action from the federal Minister of Justice, his provincial and territorial counterparts and the chief justices to ensure adequate bilingual capacity at all times in superior courts. A collaborative approach is at the heart of the proposed recommendations,” said François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario.

The study also noted that, for some judges, maintaining their language skills is a challenge. Although the language training program currently offered by the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs is appreciated by superior court judges, the commissioners recommend that the program be improved.

“Specifically, the applied training workshops that are currently offered in New Brunswick to provincial court judges could be interesting models to explore for superior court judges,” suggested Katherine d’Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

The study recommends 10 concrete and pragmatic courses of action that will improve the bilingual capacity of the judiciary of superior courts. The commissioners are urging the federal Minister of Justice to ensure a quick and collaborative implementation of these recommendations.

“The consequences of inaction are real for the citizens who must contend with the judicial system and who are not guaranteed to be heard in their official language of choice. If the federal Minister of Justice does nothing, then it’s the status quo. And the status quo is unacceptable,” concluded Graham Fraser. 

The study Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary is available at www.officiallanguages.gc.ca.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

At the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada: Nelson KALIL
Manager, Strategic Communications and Media Relations
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368
E-mail: nelson.kalil@ocol-clo.gc.ca

At the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario: Simon CÔTÉ
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Telephone: 416-314-8247
Toll-free: 1-866-246-5262
E-mail: communications.flsccsf@ontario.ca

At the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick: Hugues BEAULIEU
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Telephone: 506-444-4229
Toll-free: 1-888-651-6444
E-mail: hugues.beaulieu@gnb.ca

 

Access to Justice in Both Official Languages: Improving the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Court Judiciary

HIGHLIGHTS

Background
• The matter of access to justice in the superior courts requires action by both the federal government and the provincial governments, the latter being responsible for operating these courts and the former for appointing the judges.

 
• For the two million Canadians who are members of Anglophone or Francophone minority communities to have access—at all times and without additional cost—to judges with the language skills necessary to hear cases in the minority language, the federal Minister of Justice must appoint an appropriate number of bilingual judges.

• In a criminal case, Canadians are entitled to a preliminary hearing and a trial in the official language of their choice, regardless of where in the country the case will be heard. 

• In the superior courts, approximately 2/3 of the judges (648 out of a total of 1,017) hear cases in provinces and territories that require them to respect the language rights of citizens in non-criminal cases, including in the areas of family law, wills and estates law, contract and commercial law, and bankruptcy law.

Scope of the study

• The purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which the process for appointing judges to superior courts guarantees an appropriate number of bilingual judges. Its aim was not to determine whether there is a shortage of bilingual judges.

• The study deals solely with the bilingual capacity of judges sitting in “superior courts,” meaning (1) superior trial courts, the names of which vary across Canada and include courts of Queen’s Bench, provincial supreme courts and provincial superior courts; and (2) courts of appeal. The study does not examine the bilingual capacity of the Supreme Court of Canada.

• The expression “bilingual capacity of the judiciary” is defined as the presence of an appropriate number of bilingual judges in the superior courts, in other words, judges with the necessary language skills to preside over hearings in the minority official language.

• To get a sense of the challenges related to the bilingual capacity of superior court judges on a national scale, the study looked at the situation in the superior courts of six provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Methodology
• In support of the study, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages formed an advisory committee of representatives from the legal community, including the Canadian Judicial Council, the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec, the Fédération des associations des juristes d’expression française de common law and the Centre canadien de français juridique. 

• The study is based on quantitative and qualitative information gathered through on-line surveys of members of French-language jurists’ associations and a sample of members of the Quebec bar, along with interviews designed to elicit more detail on the results of the survey.

Findings 
• Consultations during the study showed that the judicial appointment process does not guarantee the presence of an appropriate number of judges with the necessary language skills if the superior courts are to respect the language rights of Canadians at all times.

• This finding is based on three key observations:
1) There is no objective analysis of needs in terms of access to the superior courts in both official languages in the different districts and regions of the country.

2) There is no coordinated action on the part of the federal Minister of Justice, his provincial and territorial counterparts and the chief justices of the superior courts to establish a process that would ensure, at all times, that an appropriate number of bilingual judges are appointed.

3) The evaluation of superior court judicial candidates does not allow for an objective verification of the language skills of candidates who identify themselves as being able to preside over proceedings in their second language.

Recommendations
• The study contains 10 recommendations that are addressed primarily to the federal Minister of Justice, but also to his provincial and territorial counterparts as well as the chief justices of the superior courts. The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the federal Minister of Justice:

1) Take measures, by September 1, 2014, in collaboration with his provincial and territorial counterparts, to ensure appropriate bilingual capacity in the judiciary of Canada’s superior courts at all times;

2) Establish, together with the attorneys general and the chief justices of superior courts of each province and territory, a memorandum of understanding to:
• set the terms of this collaborative approach;
• adopt a common definition of the level of language skills required of bilingual judges so that they can preside over proceedings in their second language;
• identify the appropriate number of bilingual judges and/or designated bilingual positions;

3) Encourage the attorneys general of each province and territory to initiate a consultation process with the judiciary and the bar, with the participation of the French-speaking common law jurists’ association or the legal community of the linguistic minority population, to take into consideration their point of view on the appropriate number of bilingual judges or designated bilingual positions;

4) Re-evaluate the bilingual capacity of the superior courts, periodically or when changes occur that are likely to have an impact on access to justice in the minority language, together with the attorneys general and chief justices of the superior courts of each province and territory;

5) Give the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs the mandate of implementing a process to systematically, independently and objectively evaluate the language skills of all candidates who identified the level of their language skills on their application form.
 

July 24, 2013

Statement by the new Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick

Fredericton, July 24, 2013 – Statement by Katherine d’Entremont, as she assumes her new role as the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick:

It is with great enthusiasm that I undertake my duties this week as the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

I feel very honoured to have been chosen to succeed Michel Carrier. Indeed, I want to thank him for his work and dedication. To his credit, he has built an excellent reputation for the Commissioner’s office.

I had the good fortune to grow up in a bilingual and bicultural home – my mother was Anglophone, my father, Francophone. That enabled me to discover early on the vast cultural richness of our province. It is one of our most important resources for our future.

The Official Languages Act expresses our desire to live together, while ensuring the preservation of our two languages and the development of our two linguistic communities. This is a wonderful societal undertaking in which we can all participate.

As Commissioner, I must ensure that all public institutions are compliant with their linguistic obligations. I must also promote the advancement of our two official languages. This is a major responsibility that I will carry out with integrity and rigour.

Over the coming weeks, my staff and I will determine this office’s course in the light of the legacy of my predecessor and the recent changes to the Official Languages Act. These amendments look very promising for the future.

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The Commissioner’s biography can be viewed on the Office’s website.

Information:

Hugues Beaulieu

Director, Public Affairs and Research

506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444

Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

June 17, 2013

Statement by the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Michel Carrier

Fredericton, June 17, 2013 – As an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly, I participated in the revision process of the Official Languages Act.

I have stated publicly my proposed amendments to the Act on numerous occasions. Last week, in tabling my final annual report, I reiterated my position on this matter.

On June 14th, the provincial government introduced a bill to amend the Official Languages Act. It is now up to the MLAs to study this bill and to take action to fully achieve the objectives of this Act.

I will refrain from making further comments on this issue out of respect for the legislative process.

June 10, 2013

2012-2013 Annual Report

Commissioner Carrier presents his final annual report

Fredericton, June 10, 2013 – The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Michel Carrier, tabled his final annual report today.  As he completes his second mandate, Mr. Carrier believes that the Legislative Assembly and the provincial government need to do more in order to preserve the vitality of the French language in New Brunswick.  

The Commissioner’s annual report provides an analysis of the 2011 census data, carried out by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. The analysis confirms a slight decline in the use of French in New Brunswick according to four linguistic characteristics: knowledge of French, language spoken most often at home, first official language spoken and mother tongue.  It also confirms that immigration in New Brunswick does not support equally the vitality of both official languages.  

“After reading this analysis, my conclusion is clear: we cannot take for granted the vitality of the French language in New Brunswick,” the Commissioner stated. “To ensure the future of the language, we must work together on all of the factors that affect its vitality.” 

Michel Carrier finds it regrettable that the provincial government still does not have a long-term strategy for Francophone immigration nor clear guidelines to ensure that the linguistic balance is maintained in New Brunswick. “Two years ago, I made two recommendations in that regard. The government informed me that it was going to act; however, I still have not seen any document, which is disappointing.”  

Language of Work in the Civil Service

 The annual report indicates that 88% of the words translated by the New Brunswick Translation Bureau are from English to French. “This percentage seems to indicate that civil servants write very little in French,” explained the Commissioner. “It is quite easy to imagine the consequences of such a practice for the vitality of French within the civil service.”

Michel Carrier recommended that the right of civil servants to work in the official language of their choice be included in the Official Languages Act. However the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act did not retain this recommendation. “In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, New Brunswick commits to protecting and promoting our two official languages,” he stated. “How then can we not include a measure designed to ensure an equal use of English and French within the government in the Official Languages Act?”

New Brunswick Translation Bureau: the Commissioner is concerned

Among the topics dealt with in the 2012-2013 annual report, the results of the study on the New Brunswick Translation Bureau should be highlighted. The Commissioner indicated that he was concerned about certain changes imposed on the organization.  “To a large extent, the Translation Bureau makes it possible for the provincial government to comply with its constitutional obligations,"   he explained, “therefore sufficient resources are required to allow it to do its work. The study we conducted exposed some worrisome facts: reduction of the Bureau’s basic budget, elimination of translation allocations to departments, and reduction of revenues linked to a significant decrease in the number of words translated. This situation worries me, and that is why I am asking the Premier to ensure that the Translation Bureau has the necessary resources to fulfill its role effectively.”

Complaints

In 2012-2013, the Commissioner’s office handled 149 complaints, most having to do with the lack of French-language services.

New promotional tool for bilingualism and duality

With respect to promotional activities, Mr. Carrier announced that the Office’s website now offers a series of video vignettes on official bilingualism, linguistic duality and language vitality. “I wish to thank the New Brunswickers who agreed to share their thoughts on these subjects. I believe that these vignettes will contribute significantly to a better understanding of what makes our province  unique.”  

End of Commissioner Carrier’s term of office

Michel Carrier is leaving his duties as Commissioner with a sense of accomplishment. “During my two mandates, I have applied myself to convincing the government that it needed an action plan to implement the Act. This plan has been adopted and I have high hopes that it will lead to substantial progress.  

The Commissioner considers the review of the Official Languages Act to be an ideal opportunity to continue this progress towards linguistic equality. "We have dedicated ourselves to a noble societal undertaking, which becomes especially meaningful insofar as we continue to make a concerted effort to build on it. The review of the Act is an opportunity that should be seized in that regard. To move forward, we must aim higher and go further,” he concluded.  

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The 2012-2013 annual report is available online.

Information:

Hugues Beaulieu

Director, Public Affairs and Research

506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444

Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

 

March 12, 2013

Commissioners Boileau and Carrier sign a cooperation agreement

JOINT NEWS RELEASE OF THE OFFICE OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE SERVICES COMMISSIONER OF ONTARIO AND THE OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES FOR NEW BRUNSWICK

March 12, 2013 — The French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, François Boileau, and the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Michel Carrier, today announced the signing of an agreement that will help their offices improve the protection and promotion of language rights.

“Mr. Boileau and I have very similar responsibilities,” noted Mr. Carrier. “Consequently, we have everything to gain by enhancing our cooperation to improve the observance of citizens’ language rights in our respective provinces.”

The agreement states in particular that the two agencies will share the findings and recommendations produced by their investigations. It also provides for greater collaboration in promotion initiatives and studies of the fulfilment of linguistic obligations.

“The obstacles that our linguistic communities encounter in accessing government services in their language can be similar or even sometimes interconnected from one province to another,” said Mr. Boileau. “I am delighted that the citizens of New Brunswick and Ontario can count on our combined strengths to guide our respective governments toward pragmatic solutions and lasting improvements.”

Mr. Carrier stated that this agreement formalizes a collaborative relationship that he had already established with Commissioner Boileau. “We have been collaborating on certain issues for several years now, and we now want to take that cooperation to another level. That is the rationale for this agreement.” 

It is worth noting that recently François Boileau and Michel Carrier each signed a cooperation agreement with the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser.

Michel Carrier and François Boileau sign the collaboration agreement between their two offices. (To obtain a copy of this photo, please contact the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.)

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To request more information or arrange an interview, please contact:

Simon Côté
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario
Telephone: 416-314-8247
Toll free: 1-866-246-5262
Email: communications.flsccsf@ontario.ca

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
Telephone: 506-444-4229
Toll free: 1-888-651-6444
Email: hugues.beaulieu@gnb.ca

March 6, 2013

Graham Fraser and Michel Carrier mark the 20th anniversary of the recognition of the principle of equality of both official language communities in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Fredericton, March 6, 2013 – Today, the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser, and his New Brunswick counterpart, Michel Carrier, marked the 20th anniversary of the amendment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include section 16.1. This section recognizes the equality of New Brunswick’s two official language communities and gives both communities the right to their own educational and cultural institutions.

“Section 16.1 is key to the vitality of our English and French communities,” Carrier said. “On the one hand, it protects the right of each community to have its own schools and other educational and cultural institutions. On the other, it requires the government of New Brunswick to protect and promote the equality of the two communities as well as their right to distinct institutions. Section 16.1 is not merely a statement of principles; it is a commitment to act to ensure the equality of the two official language communities, and that is what makes it so important.”

According to Commissioner Fraser, “This provision of the Charter is central to the protection and promotion of the vitality of New Brunswick’s official language communities, particularly in the area of education.”

Section 16.1 was added to the Charter in March 1993 at the request of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. It reinforces the main elements of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick, which was enacted in 1981 by the provincial Legislative Assembly.

At a ceremony held in Fredericton, both commissioners lauded New Brunswick’s leadership in the area of language equality. “Section 16.1 is a testament to the province’s determination to ensure the vitality of its two official language communities, a gesture that brings great honour to this province and one that must be celebrated,” said Commissioner Carrier.

The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Michel Carrier, and the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser. (to obtain a copy of this photo, please contact the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick)

 

Signing of a memorandum of understanding

Michel Carrier and Graham Fraser also announced the signing of an agreement that will enable both offices to expand their cooperation in order to optimize their support to the citizens, communities and organizations that they serve. In particular, the agreement will allow both offices to carry out joint studies and promotional activities.

“This agreement will enable us to coordinate our efforts in certain areas,” said Commissioner Carrier. “Language rights issues and challenges are often similar, and we have everything to gain from greater cooperation between our two offices.”

“In a way, this agreement officially confirms what had already been established informally: a friendly and effective partnership,” said Commissioner Fraser. “For example, we are currently working together on a study about access to justice in both official languages.”

Mr. Fraser also congratulated Mr. Carrier on his 10 years of tireless work on behalf of New Brunswickers.

Michel Carrier and Graham Fraser sign the collaboration agreement between their two offices. (to obtain a copy of this photo, please contact the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick)

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Information:

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada
Nelson Kalil
Manager, Strategic Communications and Media Relations
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368
E-mail: nelson.kalil@ocol-clo.gc.ca

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Telephone: 506-444-4229
Toll-free: 1-888-651-6444
E-mail: hugues.beaulieu@gnb.ca

 

Backgrounder
Section 16.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

English and French linguistic communities in New Brunswick
16.1. (1) The English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges, including the right to distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities.

Role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick
(2) The role of the legislature and government of New Brunswick to preserve and promote the status, rights and privileges referred to in subsection (1) is affirmed.

November 20, 2012

Duality in Education or Assimilation, by Michel A. Carrier, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick

What at first glance appeared to be a positive news item about bilingualism in New Brunswick Seeking Bilingualism (Telegraph Journal, October 15), turned out to be a dismissal of the most fundamental part of the vitality of the Francophone community in New Brunswick: duality in the school system. Indeed, while reading the article, we learn that a prominent Canadian business leader, Mr. Richard Currie, says it is time New Brunswick did away with separate school and health systems in English and French.

Respectfully, Mr. Currie, like others recently, errs in addressing duality in education and in healthcare together and treating them as these are the same. They are not. Discussions with respect to equality in healthcare, while essential, are not based on the concept that we must have separate hospitals for each community. No one is advocating this, yet by connecting equality in healthcare with our education system, there is a great risk of misinforming the public and making it impossible for people to participate effectively in discussions or debates on the subject of healthcare.

Not only is duality in education essential, it is a constitutional right.

While English and French languages have equal legal status in this province, it should be easily understood that they do not face the same challenges when it comes to their vitality and protection. The French language in North America is in a constant state of fragility. Its survival and development require strong measures to prevent assimilation; hence, duality in education, our two school systems. In fact, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that each official linguistic community in New Brunswick has the right to “distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities”.

Duality in education is widely credited for greatly containing assimilation in the New Brunswick Francophone community. Indeed, our dual school system is not designed to divide but rather to ensure that both linguistic communities can fully develop and be truly equal.

The Report of the Committee on the Organization and Boundaries of School Districts in New Brunswick (1979), which preceded the reorganization of school districts on a linguistic basis, offers significant insight on the matter. I submit the following excerpt:

“when attempts are made to integrate two systems, one of which is weaker than the other, the lack of symmetry in bilateral relations will cause the integration process to weaken even further the weaker of the two parties. It may eventually become assimilated within a structure – in economic, social and cultural terms – not much different from that of the stronger party.” (Reviews of National Policies for Education, Canada, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1976)

Today, the English language is even more present globally  ̶  and virtually  ̶  and that creates more challenges for our Francophone community. Consequently, it should be clear to everyone that duality in education is even more essential.

Our Charter is clear with respect to the right to distinct educational institutions. That, in my opinion, is not debatable and does not have a place in the discussions surrounding the present review of our Official Languages Act. During this review, we must focus on improving the Act so that government can fully live up to its constitutional obligations to serve the public equally in both official languages and to foster equality between our two linguistic communities.

October 24, 2012

Statement by the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick regarding the data from the 2011 Census of Population covering Canada’s language diversity

It is with great interest that we started reviewing today Statistics Canada’s census results regarding linguistic characteristics of Canadians. The analysis of this data takes time and it is therefore not possible for me to offer any detailed comments at this time. However, here are my initial observations.

The data from Statistics Canada with respect to language in New Brunswick is a source of concern for me. While there has been a slight increase of persons speaking French in the province, the proportion of Francophones in New Brunswick has diminished.

Statistics Canada has said in fact that “in New Brunswick, the share of French has declined somewhat, regardless of the characteristic.” This statement should retain the attention of the provincial government and our two linguistic communities.

The vitality of the French language in New Brunswick rests on many factors. That is why the provincial government should adopt a global approach to ensure the vitality of our both linguistic communities. I believe that the data from Statistics Canada demonstrates the need to adopt such an approach.

It is worth noting that Statistics Canada says “that international immigration has the strongest effect on the evolution of French in Canada.”

Last year, I recommended that the government adopt clear guidelines to ensure that its immigration practices benefit both linguistic communities equally. The government told me that such a policy was being developed. More than ever, I'm eager to see it.

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Information:
Hugues Beaulieu
Director, Public Affairs and Research
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

October 11, 2012

2011-2012 Annual Report

COMMISSIONER OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES FOR NEW BRUNSWICK
News Release

2011-2012 ANNUAL REPORT
Commissioner calls on government to improve Official Languages Act

Fredericton, October 11, 2012 – Michel Carrier, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, is calling on the provincial government to improve the Official Languages Act in order to achieve greater progress towards the equality of English and French in New Brunswick. In his 2011-2012 annual report, Carrier again proposes a series of amendments to the Act.

“The revision of the Act is important because it provides us with an opportunity to move closer to achieving linguistic equality In New Brunswick,” Carrier said. "This revision must propel us forward, not maintain the status quo.”

The Commissioner’s proposals include the right of public servants to work in the official language of their choice, linguistic obligations for professional associations, and better protection of language rights in public-private partnerships.

In his annual report, From Words to Actions, Carrier paints a nuanced portrait of progress regarding official languages in the province. He says he is delighted that the government is implementing the Government Plan on Official Languages: Official Bilingualism – A Strength. He thinks this initiative should enable the government to better meet its linguistic obligations in terms of the delivery of bilingual services to the public. However, when it comes to language of work within the provincial public service, the Commissioner notes that additional measures need to be taken to ensure a more balanced use of French and English. “The government plan contains few innovative measures for creating a true bilingual work environment within the public service,” Carrier said. Moreover, he believes that the provincial government must show rigour in order to achieve its goal of increasing bilingualism among senior public servants. 

The Commissioner refers in his annual report to certain progress made in the wake of his recommendations, in particular with respect to early childhood services. However, he is still waiting for a provincial immigration policy to be adopted. “Last year, I recommended that the government adopt clear guidelines to ensure that its immigration practices benefit both linguistic communities equally,” Carrier said. “The government told me that such a policy was being developed. I'm eager to see it."

In 2011-2012, the Commissioner’s office handled 203 complaints, most having to do with the lack of French-language services.

During the news conference, Carrier noted that 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the entrenchment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the equal status of the two official linguistic communities in New Brunswick. “The equality of status of our two linguistic communities is not just symbolic,” he said. “The government actually has a constitutional obligation to protect and promote this status and equal rights. The revision of the Official Languages Act provides an opportunity to comply fully with the letter and spirit of this constitutional commitment, in short to go from words to actions,” the Commissioner concluded.

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The 2011-2012 annual report is available online.

Information:
Hugues Beaulieu
Director, Public Affairs and Research
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

August 3, 2012

Speech of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick during the ceremony of the 10th Anniversary of Official Bilingualism in Moncton on August 2nd, 2012

What a happy occasion, this 10th anniversary of official bilingualism in Moncton!

I am truly delighted to be here to celebrate with you! 

This event marks a historic step, but more importantly a renewed commitment for this great social project that is the equality of our two linguistic communities.

This anniversary provides an opportunity to recognize the people, Anglophones and Francophones who said no to homogeneity, those men and women who believe in the importance of protecting and promoting the French language and its inherent culture, those New Brunswickers who want our two linguistic communities to flourish together in a spirit of mutual respect.

This 10th anniversary also presents an opportunity to make a commitment to going further. I therefore rise today to salute the municipal leadership and administration and its employees. Your commitment and efforts will allow for sustained growth in all areas of language vitality.  I am certain that the creation of this committee on bilingualism will guide your efforts.

A genuine official languages policy must seek to influence all of the factors that relate to language vitality because, when it comes to that, everything is interconnected.

Legislation, policy, and official recognition are essential for ensuring the equality of our two languages. The role of institutions is vital as we progress toward equality. But that must not blind us to the importance of individual action.

In essence, a language involves the people who speak it on a daily basis, who request services in that language and use it in public, people who believe it is important to see it posted in the public sphere.

To ensure that citizens can live together in harmony is a fundamental goal of any municipal administration. A sign of respect, of openness, and of the promotion of diversity, the resolution passed by the Moncton Council to become a bilingual city is an excellent example of this desire to live together. May this anniversary see the renewal of a strong will to go further so that our two linguistic groups may truly thrive in this beautiful city.