Fredericton, June 10, 2022 – The following statement was issued today by Shirley MacLean, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.
“On this last day of the spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly, I am greatly disappointed by the Premier’s silence on the review of the Official Languages Act.
In December 2021, the Report of the 2021 Review of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick authored by Commissioners John McLaughlin and Judge Yvette Finn was made public. Almost six months have passed and there has not been a response or indication from the government as to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. Indeed, the Premier, who pursuant to section 2 of the Official Languages Act is responsible for its administration, has not commented publicly in any concrete way about the recommendations to review the Official Languages Act.
The preamble to the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick states that the Constitution of Canada affirms, with respect to both official languages, the authority of the Legislature and Government of New Brunswick to advance the status, rights and privileges of the English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick Premiers from Louis J. Robichaud to David Alward have shown leadership and unwavering support for official bilingualism over the past 53 years. They have adopted and reviewed the Official Languages Act to advance the equality of status and use of English and French in New Brunswick. These changes through the years have provided ongoing recognition of the importance of our Official Languages Act, and acceptance that this legislation is important to New Brunswickers and official language minority communities.
As a jurist, I can appreciate that legislative amendments do not happen overnight. But six months after the release of the report on the review of the Official Languages Act, New Brunswickers at the very least deserve to hear the Premier’s reactions and intentions as to the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
The government’s failure to respond to the Report of the 2021 Review of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick ignores the 6,656 questionnaire participants, the 31 briefs filed with the commissioners during their consultations and the over 80 meetings with 200 individuals and 52 stakeholder groups who participated in those discussions. More importantly, the failure to respond leaves the impression that the report lacks importance, and this is disrespectful to the commissioners, the participants in the consultation process, and all New Brunswickers.
Lack of progress on this file is in fact a setback for language rights. Let’s continue to move our province forward. Let’s modernize our Official Languages Act.”
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444 (toll free)