OPEN LETTER: QCGN deeply disappointed with new Official Languages Act

OPEN LETTER: QCGN deeply disappointed with new Official Languages Act

Submitted by the Quebec Community Groups Network 

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is profoundly disappointed that Bill C-13, the overhaul of the Official Languages Act, is headed for royal assent while still containing references to Quebec’s Charter of the French Language.

These references, particularly in the “purpose clause” of the bill, contribute to the new asymmetrical approach Ottawa has taken with respect to what it calls the “substantive” equality of Canada’s two official languages, a departure from 50 years of federal language policy.

“Bill C-13 contains a serious flaw: its three references to Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, which, thanks to its amendment last year by the provincial Bill 96, is now entirely subject to the notwithstanding clause,” said QCGN president Eva Ludvig. “This allows the provincial government to restrict rights guaranteed by the Canadian constitution, now with the acquiescence and tacit support of the federal government.

“We will continue to articulate the ways both pieces of legislation harm Quebec’s English-speaking community. It is also important to reiterate that this is more a constitutional concern than a linguistic one, and that minority-language communities across the country should be concerned by the precedent being set.”

Canada’s Official Languages Act and the Charter of the French Language are now inextricably linked, creating a framework where one minority-language group is treated differently than another.

“Not since 1977 and the introduction of Bill 101 have English-speaking Quebecers been required to so vigorously defend our contributions to Quebec society, the institutions we have built and indeed our very place in our own province, even to federal politicians,” Ludvig said. 

Ludvig reiterated that Quebec’s English-speaking community is solidly in support of measures to preserve and promote French across the country, including in Quebec, so long as those measures do not unjustly restrict or deny minority-language rights and access to services. “Denying services to English-speaking Quebecers, or restricting them in complicated ways as is the case with Bill 96, does not, in our view, do anything to help protect and promote French. We raise issues with Bill 96 here because it is now part and parcel of a federal law.

“We expected so much more from many of our political leaders and decision makers, who chose political expediency over nation-building,” said Ludvig. “We expected greater understanding from many in the francophone media and more support from our fellow citizens in the rest of Canada. We urge the commissioner of official languages, Raymond Théberge, to pay close attention to and report on the effects of Bill C-13 on the English-speaking community of Quebec – especially where the federal government has agreements with the provincial government [to fund] initiatives that support the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking community.”


OPEN LETTER: QCGN deeply disappointed with new Official Languages Act was last modified: June 20th, 2023 by QCT Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *