Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Bilingualism in Canada

Bilingualism in Canada

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Bilingualism in Canada'
Start a new discussion about 'Bilingualism in Canada'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The official languages of Canada are English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, which "have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 and Government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

" according to Canada's constitution. Official bilingualism is the term used in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to collectively describe the policies, constitutional provisions, and laws which give English and French a special legal status over other languages in Canada’s courts, Parliament and other federal institutions.

Official bilingualism
Official bilingualism
Official bilingualism refers to the policy adopted by some states of recognizing two languages as official and producing all official documents, and handling all correspondence and official dealings, including Court procedure, in the two said languages...

 should not be confused with personal bilingualism
Multilingualism
Multilingualism is the act of using, or promoting the use of, multiple languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. Multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world's population. Multilingualism is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of...

, which is the capacity of a person to speak two languages. This distinction was articulated in the 1967 report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was a Canadian royal commission established on 19 July 1963, by the government of Prime Minister Lester B...

, which stated:
Nonetheless, the promotion of personal bilingualism in English and French is an important objective of official bilingualism in Canada, and is addressed more fully below.

In addition to the symbolic designation of English and French as official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s, official bilingualism is generally understood to include any law or other measure which:
  • mandates that the federal government conduct its business in both official languages and provide government services in both languages;
  • encourages or mandates lower tiers of government (most notably the provinces and territories, but also some municipalities) to conduct themselves in both official languages and to provide services in both English and French rather than in just one or the other;
  • places obligations on private actors in Canadian society to provide access to goods or services in both official languages (such as the requirement that food products be labeled in both English and French);
  • provides support to non-government actors to encourage or promote the use or the status of one or the other of the two official languages. This includes grants and contributions to groups representing the English-speaking minority in Quebec and the French-speaking minorities in the other provinces to assist with the establishment of an infrastructure of cultural supports and services.


At the provincial level, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 is the only officially bilingual province and only Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 has declared itself officially unilingual (French only). In practice, all provinces, including Quebec, offer some bilingual services and some education in both official languages up to the high school level. English and French are official languages in all three territories. In addition, Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

 is also an official language in Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, and nine aboriginal languages have official status in the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

.

History





French has been a language of government in the part of Canada that is today Quebec, with limited interruptions, since the arrival of the first French settlers in 1608, and has been entrenched in the Constitution of Canada since 1867. English has been a language of government in each of the provinces since their inception as British colonies.

Institutional bilingualism in various forms therefore predates the Canadian Confederation in 1867. However, for many years English occupied a de facto privileged position, and French was not fully equal. The two languages have gradually achieved a greater level of equality in most of the provinces, and full equality at the federal level. However in Quebec, the trend has been away from equality. In the 1970s English lost its status of full legal equality with French in Quebec, and today French is, both in practice and in law, the province's sole official language.

Personal bilingualism in Canada



At least 35% of Canadians speak more than one language. Moreover, fewer than 2% of Canadians cannot speak at least one of the two official languages. However, of these multilingual Canadians, somewhat less than one fifth of the population (5,448,850 persons, or 17.4% of the Canadian population) are able to speak both of the official languages. However, in Canada the terms "bilingual" and "unilingual" are normally used to refer to bilingualism in English and French. In this sense, nearly 83% of Canadians are "unilingual".

Knowledge of the two official languages is largely determined by geography. Nearly 95% of Quebecers can speak French, but only 40.6% speak English. In the rest of the country, 97.6% of the population is capable of speaking English, but only 7.5% can speak French. Personal bilingualism is most concentrated in southern Quebec and a swath of territory sometimes referred to as the “bilingual belt
Bilingual belt
The bilingual belt is a term for the portion of Canada where both French and English are regularly spoken.The term was coined by Richard Joy in his 1967 book Languages in Conflict, where he wrote, "The language boundaries in Canada are hardening, with the consequent elimination of minorities...

”, which stretches east from Quebec through northern and eastern New Brunswick and west through Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

 and that part of Ontario lying to the east of Ottawa, as well as north-eastern Ontario. In all, 55% of bilingual Canadians are Quebecers, and a high percentage of the bilingual population in the rest of Canada resides in Ontario and New Brunswick.

Constitution Act, 1867 (section 133)


English and French have had limited constitutional protection since 1867. Section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 , is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system...

guarantees that both languages may be used in the Parliament of Canada, in its journals and records, and in court proceedings in any court established by the Parliament of Canada. The section also provides that all Acts of the Parliament of Canada are to be printed and published in both English and French. Section 133 also establishes a corresponding set of linguistic rights for French and English in Quebec—but not in any other province.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (sections 16 - 22)


The Constitution Act, 1982
Constitution Act, 1982
The Constitution Act, 1982 is a part of the Constitution of Canada. The Act was introduced as part of Canada's process of "patriating" the constitution, introducing several amendments to the British North America Act, 1867, and changing the latter's name in Canada to the Constitution Act, 1867...

entrenched stronger and more detailed guarantees for the equal status of the two official languages in sections 16-23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

. Sections 16-19 guarantee the equal status of both languages in Parliament, in all federal government institutions, and in federal courts. These sections also mandate that all statutes, records and journals of Parliament be published in both languages, with the English and French versions both holding equal status before the courts. Section 20
Section Twenty of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Twenty of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of the sections of the Charter dealing with Canada's two official languages, English and French. Along with section 16, section 20 is one of the few sections under the title "Official Languages of Canada" that guarantees...

 guarantees the right of the Canadian public to communicate in English and French with any central government office or with regional offices where there is "a significant demand for communication with and services from that office." Significant demand is not defined in the Charter of Rights. One of the purposes of the Official Languages Act
Official Languages Act (Canada)
The Official Languages Act is a Canadian law that came into force on September 9, 1969, which gives English and French equal status in the government of Canada. This makes them "official" languages, having preferred status in law over all other languages...

of 1988 was to remedy this omission.

The Charter of Rights includes similar constitutional obligations making New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

 the only officially bilingual province in Canada.

Section 21
Section Twenty-one of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Twenty-one of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of several sections of the Charter relating to the official languages of Canada. The official languages, under section 16 of the Charter, are English and French...

 ensured that the new Charter of Rights would be read as supplementing, rather than replacing any rights of the English and French languages which had been constitutionalized prior to 1982. Section 22
Section Twenty-two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Twenty-two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of several sections of the Charter relating to the official languages of Canada. The official languages, under section 16, are English and French...

 ensured that the new Charter of Rights would not be interpreted by the courts as placing any new restrictions on non-official languages.

Education Rights (section 23 of the Charter and section 59 of the Constitution Act, 1982)


Section 23 provides a limited right to receive publicly-funded primary and secondary-schooling in the two official languages when they are "in a minority situation"—in other words, to English-language schooling in Quebec, and to French-language schooling in the rest of the country.

Asymmetrical application of education rights in Quebec versus elsewhere in Canada


The right applies asymmetrically because section 59 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that not all of the language rights listed in section 23 will apply in Quebec. Specifically:
  • In Quebec, a child may receive free public education in English only if at least one parent or a sibling was educated in Canada in English.
  • In the rest of Canada, a child may receive free public education in French if at least one parent or a sibling was educated in Canada in French, or if at least one parent has French as his or her mother tongue
    First language
    A first language is the language a person has learned from birth or within the critical period, or that a person speaks the best and so is often the basis for sociolinguistic identity...

     (defined in section 23 as "first language learned and still understood").

None of these education language rights precludes parents from placing their children in a private school (which they pay for) in the language of their choice; it only applies to subsidized public education.

One practical consequence of this asymmetry is that all migrants who arrive in Quebec from foreign countries only have access to French-language public schools for their children. This includes immigrants whose mother tongue is English and immigrants who received their schooling in English. On the other hand, Section 23 provides a nearly universal right to English-language schooling for the children of Canadian-born anglophones living in Quebec.

Section 23 also provides, in theory, a nearly universal right to French-language schooling for the children of all francophones living outside Quebec, including immigrants from French-speaking countries who settle outside Quebec, and who are Canadian citizens.

Another element of asymmetry between Quebec and most anglophone provinces is that while Quebec provides public English-language primary and secondary education throughout the province, most other provinces provide French-language education only "where numbers warrant."

Additional restrictions on education rights


There are some further restrictions on minority-language education rights:
  1. the rights attach to the parent, not the child, and non-citizens residing in Canada do not have access to this right (even if their children are born in Canada);
  2. If the parents' English-language or French-language education took place outside Canada, this does not enable the child to be educated in that language; and
  3. the right to receive public funding can only be exercised in localities where "the number of children of citizens who have such a right is sufficient to warrant the provision to them out of public funds ....".

Ambiguous definition of entitlement to education rights


The phrase, "where numbers ... warrant" is not defined in Section 23. Education is under provincial jurisdiction, which means that it has not been possible for Parliament to enact a single nationwide definition of the term, as the 1988 Official Languages Act did for the constitutional obligation to provide federal services where “there is a sufficient demand.” As a result, disputes over the extent of the right to a publicly-funded minority-language education have been the source of much litigation.

The defining case was Mahe v. Alberta
Mahe v. Alberta
Mahé v. Alberta, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 342 is a leading decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. The ruling is notable because the court established that section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that parents of the official-language minority in each province have the right...

(1990), in which the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 declared that section 23 guaranteed a "sliding scale." In certain circumstances, the children whose parents could exercise the right might be so few that literally no minority language education may be provided by the government. With a greater number of children, some schools might be required to provide classroom
Classroom
A classroom is a room in which teaching or learning activities can take place. Classrooms are found in educational institutions of all kinds, including public and private schools, corporations, and religious and humanitarian organizations...

s in which the children could receive minority language education. An even greater number would require the construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 of new schools dedicated solely to minority language education. More recent cases, which have significantly extended these rights, include Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island
Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island
Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 3, 2000 SCC 1, is a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on minority language rights...

(2000) and Doucet-Boudreau v. Nova Scotia (Minister of Education)
Doucet-Boudreau v. Nova Scotia (Minister of Education)
Doucet-Boudreau v. Nova Scotia [2003] 3 S.C.R. 3, 2003 SCC 62, was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which followed the Nova Scotia Supreme Court's finding that a delay in building French language schools in Nova Scotia violated the claimants' minority language educational rights under...

(2003).

Language of the official text of the Constitution


Many of the documents in Canada's Constitution do not have an official French-language version; for official legal purposes only the English-language version is official and any French translations are unofficial. In particular, the Constitution Act, 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 , is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system...

(which created Canada as a legal entity and still contains the most important provisions of governmental powers) has no official French-language version, because it was enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament, which functions in the English language exclusively. Similarly, all other parts of the Constitution that were enacted by the United Kingdom (with the important exception of the Canada Act 1982
Canada Act 1982
The Canada Act 1982 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was passed at the request of the Canadian federal government to "patriate" Canada's constitution, ending the necessity for the country to request certain types of amendment to the Constitution of Canada to be made by the...

) have no official French-language version.

Sections 55 – 57 of the Constitution Act, 1982 set out a framework for changing this situation. Section 55 calls for French versions of all parts of the Constitution that exist only in English to be prepared as quickly as possible. Section 56 provided that, following adoption of the French versions, both the English-language and French-language versions would be equally authoritative. To avoid the situation where an inaccurately-translated French version would have a weight equal to the English original, Section 55 requires that the French-language versions be approved using the same process under which actual constitutional amendments are adopted.

Pursuant to section 55, a French Constitutional Drafting Committee produced French-language versions of all the British North America Acts in the decade following 1982. However, these versions were never ratified under the Constitution’s amendment procedure, and therefore have never been officially adopted.

Section 57 states that the “English and French versions of this Act [ie. the Constitution Act, 1982] are equally authoritative.” The purpose of this provision is to clear up any ambiguity that might have existed about the equal status of the two versions as a result of the novel way in which this part of Canada's supreme law came into force. Had the Constitution Act, 1982 been enacted as most preceding amendments to Canada's constitution had been, as a statute of the British parliament, it would, like any other British statute, have been an English-only document. Instead, the British parliament enacted a very concise law, (the Canada Act 1982
Canada Act 1982
The Canada Act 1982 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was passed at the request of the Canadian federal government to "patriate" Canada's constitution, ending the necessity for the country to request certain types of amendment to the Constitution of Canada to be made by the...

), written in English only. The operative clauses of the Canada Act, 1982 simply state that an appendix to the Act (the appendix is formally referred to as a "schedule") is to be integrated into the Canadian constitution. The schedule contains the complete text of the Constitution Act, 1982, in both English and French.

Official Languages Act




Canada adopted its first Official Languages Act in 1969, in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism was a Canadian royal commission established on 19 July 1963, by the government of Prime Minister Lester B...

. The current Official Languages Act was adopted in 1988 to improve the 1969 law's efforts to address two basic policy objectives: (1) to specify the powers, duties and functions of federal institutions relevant to official languages; (2) to support the development of linguistic minority communities. As well, following the adoption in 1982 of the Charter of Rights, it was necessary to create a legislative framework within which the Government of Canada could respect its new constitutional obligations regarding the official languages.

In addition to formalizing Charter provisions in Parts I through IV, the Act adopts several specific measures to achieve these objectives. For example, Part V specifies that the work environment in federal institutions in the National Capital Region
National Capital Region (Canada)
The National Capital Region, also referred to as Canada's Capital Region, is an official federal designation for the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Ontario, the neighbouring city of Gatineau, Quebec, and surrounding urban and rural communities....

 and other prescribed bilingual regions be conducive to accommodating the use of French and English at work. Part VI mandates that English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians not be discriminated against based on ethnic origin or first language learned when it comes to employment opportunities and advancement.

Finally, the Act establishes a Commissioner of Official Languages
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, an office of the Canadian government, is responsible for achieving the objectives of, and promoting, Canada's Official Languages Act....

  and specifies his duties to hear and investigate complaints, make recommendations to Parliament, and delegate authority in matters pertaining to official languages in Canada. Canada's current Commissioner of Official Languages is Graham Fraser.

Section 32 of the Official Languages Act authorizes the Governor in Council (i.e. the federal cabinet) to issue regulations defining the geographic regions in which services will be offered by the federal government in the relevant minority language (English in Quebec and French elsewhere).

This provides a legal definition for the otherwise vague requirement that services be provided in the minority official languages wherever there is "significant demand." The definition used in the regulations is complex, but basically an area of the country is served in both languages if at least 5,000 persons in that area, or 5% of the local population (whichever is smaller), belongs to that province's English or French linguistic minority population.

Regulations were first promulgated in 1991.

Official bilingualism in the public service



The issue of proportional hiring and promotion of speakers of both official languages has been an issue in Canadian politics since before Confederation. Members of each linguistic group have complained of injustice when their group have been represented, in public service hiring and promotion, in numbers less than would be justified by their proportion of the national population. For the greater part of Canada’s history, French-speakers were underrepresented, and English-speakers were overrepresented in the ranks of the public service, and the disproportion became more pronounced in the more senior ranks of public servants. However, this trend has reversed itself in recent decades.

The first high-profile complaint of preferential hiring took place in 1834. One of the Ninety-Two Resolutions
Ninety-Two Resolutions
The Ninety-Two Resolutions were drafted by Louis-Joseph Papineau and other members of the Parti patriote of Lower Canada in 1834. The resolutions were a long series of demands for political reforms in the British-governed colony....

 of the Lower Canadian
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 House of Assembly drew attention to the fact that French Canadians, who at the time were 88% of the colony's population, held only 30% of the posts in the 157-member colonial civil service. Moreover, the resolution stated, French Canadians were, "for the most part, appointed to the inferior and less lucrative offices, and most frequently only obtaining even them, by becoming the dependent of those [British immigrants] who hold the higher and the more lucrative offices...."

With the advent of responsible government
Responsible government
Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy...

 in the 1840s, the power to make civil service appointments was transferred to elected politicians, who had a strong incentive to ensure that French Canadian voters did not feel that they were being frozen out of hiring and promotions. Although no formal reform of the hiring and promotion process was ever undertaken, the patronage-driven hiring process seems to have produced a more equitable representation of the two language groups. In the period between 1867 and the turn of the Twentieth Century, French-Canadians made up about one-third of the Canadian population, and seem also to have represented about one-third of civil service appointments at junior levels, although they had only about half that much representation at the most senior level.

Poll Data


Polls show that Canadians consistently and strongly support two key aspects of Canadian official languages policy:
  • bilingual federal government services,
  • the right of official-language minorities to receive an education in their maternal language.

However, among English-speaking Canadians there is only limited support for broadening the scope of official bilingualism, and reservations exist among Anglophones as to the intrusiveness and/or fairness of the policy. Among Francophones, polls have revealed no such reservations.

Strong support among both Anglophones and Francophones for bilingual government services


Among Anglophones, support for providing federal French-language services to French-speakers living outside Quebec has remained consistently high over a quarter-century period—79% in 1977 and 76% in 2002. Over the same period, support among English-speakers for the “right to French language education outside Quebec where numbers make costs reasonable” has ranged from 79% to 91%. Among French-speaking Canadians, support for these policies was even higher.

A lack of consensus on other aspects of official bilingualism


The national consensus has, at times, broken down when other aspects of official bilingualism are examined. However, a significant shift in anglophone opinion has occurred since the mid-2000s, in favour of bilingualism.

According to a review of three decades’ worth of poll results published in 2004 by Andre Turcotte and Andrew Parkin, “Francophones in Quebec are almost unanimous in their support of the official languages policy” but “there is a much wider variation in opinion among Anglophones….”

This variation can be seen, for example, in responses to the question, “Are you, personally, in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada?” Between 1988 and 2003, support for this statement among Francophones ranged between 79% and 91%, but among Anglophones support was never higher than 48%, and fell as low as 32% in the early 1990s. The ebb in support for bilingualism among anglophones can likely be attributed to political developments in the late 1980s and 1990s, including the failure of the Meech Lake Accord
Meech Lake Accord
The Meech Lake Accord was a package of proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada negotiated in 1987 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and ten provincial premiers. It was intended to persuade the government of the Province of Quebec to endorse the 1982 Canadian Constitution and increase...

, and the 1995 referendum on Quebec independence.

By 2006, affirmative responses to the question "Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada?" had increased considerably, with 72% of Canadians (and 64% of anglophones) agreeing. 70% of Canadians, and 64% of anglophones were "in favour of bilingualism for [their] province." Support for bilingualism is thought likely to continue to increase, as young anglophones are more favourable to it than their elders.

According to Turcotte and Parkin, other poll data reveal that “in contrast to Francophones, Anglophones, in general, have resisted putting more government effort and resources into promoting bilingualism …. What is revealing, however, is that only 11% of those outside Quebec said they disagreed with bilingualism in any form. Opposition seems to be directed to the actions of the federal government, rather than to bilingualism itself …. [T]his distinction is key to understanding public opinion on the issue.” This helps to explain results that would otherwise seem contradictory, such as a 1994 poll in which 56% of Canadians outside Quebec indicated that they either strongly or moderately supported official bilingualism, but 50% agreed with a statement that "the current official bilingualism policy should be scrapped because it's expensive and inefficient."

In English Canada, there is some regional variation in attitudes towards federal bilingualism policy, but it is relatively modest when compared to the divergence between the views expressed by Quebecers and those expressed in the rest of the country. For example, in a poll conducted in 2000, only 22% of Quebecers agreed with the statement, “We have gone too far in pushing bilingualism,” while positive response rates in English Canada ranged from a low of 50% in the Atlantic to a high of 65% in the Prairies.

Generally positive attitudes towards personal bilingualism


Both French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians tend to regard the capacity to speak the other official language as having cultural and economic value, and both groups have indicated that they regard bilingualism as an integral element of the Canadian national identity. Once again, however, there is a marked divergence between the responses of French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians. In a 2003 poll, 75% of Francophones indicated that “having two official languages, English and French”, made them proud to be Canadian. Among English-speakers, 55% said that bilingualism made them proud, but far higher percentages (86% and 94%, respectively) indicated that multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights made them feel proud.

Findings of Public Hearings


From time to time, boards or panels are commissioned, either by the federal government or the government of one of the provinces, to conduct hearings into the public’s views on matters of policy. Some of these hearings have dealt largely, or even primarily, with official languages policy, and the responses that they have collected provide snapshots into the state of public opinion at particular points in time.

Findings of the public hearings into the Poirier-Bastarache Report (1985)


The Advisory Committee on the Official Languages of New Brunswick was commissioned by the provincial legislature as a way of determining the response of the population to the 1982 Poirier-Bastarache Report, which had recommended a considerable expansion of French-language services. Public hearings were conducted in twelve cities and towns across the province in 1985, and a report was submitted by the committee in 1986.

The briefs submitted to the Advisory Committee were subsequently summarized in an academic study of the hearings in the following terms:

Findings of the Spicer Commission (1990)



In late 1990, a six-man Citizens’ Forum on Canada’s Future was established by the federal government with a mandate to engage in "a dialogue and discussion with and among Canadians ... to discuss the values and characteristics fundamental to the well-being of Canada." The Forum, which was headed by former Commissioner of Official Languages Keith Spicer, published a report in June 1991, which included a detailed discussion of Canadians’ reactions to a variety of issues, including federal official languages policy.

These comments, which probably represent the most extensive consultation ever with Canadians on the subject of official bilingualism, were compiled statistically by the Spicer Commission, and tend to reinforce the findings of pollsters, that Canadians are favourable towards bilingual services, but frustrated with the implementation of official languages policy. Thus, for example, nearly 80% of group discussions sponsored by the Commission produced favourable comments from participants on what the Commission’s report refers to as “bilingualism generally,” but nearly 80% of these discussions produced negative comments on “official languages policy.”

These results prompted Spicer to write,

Advocacy in support of expanding / extending official bilingualism


A number of groups exist, which, as part of their mandate, seek to promote official bilingualism or to extend the scope of the policy (although advocacy is not always the sole, or even the primary activity, of the groups). Among these groups:
  • Alliance Quebec
    Alliance Quebec
    Alliance Quebec was a group formed in 1982 to lobby on behalf of English-speaking Quebecers in the province of Quebec, Canada. It began as an umbrella group of many English-speaking organizations and institutions in the province, with approximately 15,000 members. At its height in the mid-1980s,...

    (defunct)
  • L'Association des municipalités francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick
  • Canadian Parents for French, established with the assistance of the Commissioner of Official Languages in 1977, promotes French second-language education for children whose mother tongue is English;
  • Commission nationale des parents francophones
  • Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada serves as an umbrella for 22 groups representing French-speaking minorities in different provinces and territories;
  • Fédération des jeunes francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick
  • Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones
  • Francophone Association of Municipalities of Ontario seeks to oversee the maintenance and development of municipal government services in French, in Ontario municipalities with French-speaking populations.
  • Impératif français seeks to promote the use of French within Quebec, and to challenge inequalities between the languages that may arise within areas of federal administration.
  • Quebec Community Groups Network serves as an umbrella for 38 English language community organizations across Quebec for the purposes of supporting and assisting the development and enhancing the vitality of the English-speaking minority communities;
  • Société des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick

Advocacy in favour of restraining or abolishing official bilingualism


A number of groups have existed, since the first Official Languages Act
Official Languages Act (Canada)
The Official Languages Act is a Canadian law that came into force on September 9, 1969, which gives English and French equal status in the government of Canada. This makes them "official" languages, having preferred status in law over all other languages...

was proclaimed in 1969, which sought to end official bilingualism or to reduce the scope of the policy. Among these groups:
  • The Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada
    Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada
    The Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada was a group in Canada, which campaigned against the Canadian government's policy of official bilingualism....

    (often referred to as "APEC"). In 2000, the group was renamed Canadians Against Bilingualism Injustice. In 2001, the organization changed its name again, becoming the Canadian Network for Language Awareness.;
  • Canadians for Language Fairness
    Canadians for Language Fairness
    Canadians for Language Fairness is an organization in Canada that campaigns against the application and enforcement of the Official bilingualism in Canada policy in various jurisdictions within the country....

    ;
  • The New Brunswick Association of English-speaking Canadians
    New Brunswick Association of English-speaking Canadians
    The New Brunswick Association of English-speaking Canadians was formed in 1984 at the instigation of Len Poore, to oppose the flying of the Acadian flag on provincial government buildings on the occasion of the flag's 100th anniversary...

    was formed in 1984 and disbanded in 1986. Its primary purpose was to oppose the proposals of the province's "Poirier-Bastarache Committee" for an expansion of the province's policy of official bilingualism.


In the first decade or so following the 1969 adoption of the Act, opposition to the new policy sometimes took a radical form that has subsequently nearly disappeared. Books such as Jock V. Andrew's Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow
Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow
Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow: Trudeau's Master Plan and How it Can be Stopped was a controversial 1977 book by Jock V. Andrew, a retired naval officer, which alleged that Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's policy of official bilingualism was a plot to make Canada a unilingually...

, advocated either the repeal of the Official Languages Act or an end to the policy of official bilingualism. Leonard Jones
Leonard Jones
Leonard C. Jones was a Canadian lawyer and politician, who served as mayor of the city of Moncton, New Brunswick between 1963 and 1974, and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Moncton between 1974 and 1979....

, the mayor of Moncton, New Brunswick, was an aggressive opponent of bilingualism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jones challenged the validity of the Official Languages Act in court, arguing that the subject matter was outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. In 1974, the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 ruled against Jones, and found the law to be constitutional
Jones v. Attorney General of New Brunswick
Jones v. New Brunswick , [1975] 2 S.C.R. 182 is a leading decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on the protection of language rights under the Canadian Constitution. The Mayor of Moncton, Leonard Jones, challenged the federal Official Languages Act, which made both French and English the...

. In 1991, a local resurgence in anti-bilingualism sentiments allowed the Confederation of Regions Party
New Brunswick Confederation of Regions Party
The New Brunswick Confederation of Regions Party was a political party in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.It was the only branch of the Confederation of Regions Party to win any seats...

 to win 21.2% of the vote in New Brunswick's provincial election and to briefly form the official opposition
Opposition (parliamentary)
Parliamentary opposition is a form of political opposition to a designated government, particularly in a Westminster-based parliamentary system. Note that this article uses the term government as it is used in Parliamentary systems, i.e. meaning the administration or the cabinet rather than the state...

 with eight seats in the provincial legislature
Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
The Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick is located in Fredericton. It was established de jure when the colony was created in 1784, but only came in to session in 1786 following the first elections in late 1785. Until 1891, it was the lower house in a bicameral legislature when its upper house...

.

Language issues currently dividing the parties


The issues on which Canada’s political parties have most recently shown divergent voting patterns are two private members’ bills.

The first, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (Charter of the French Language) (Bill C-482), was introduced by Bloc MP Pauline Picard
Pauline Picard
Pauline Picard was a Quebec politician. She was the Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament for the riding of Drummond from 1993 to 2008....

. If adopted, it would have had the effect of amending the Official Languages Act, the Canada Labour Code, and the Canada Business Corporations Act, to cause them to conform to the Charter of the French Language
Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language , also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101, is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the only official language of Quebec, and framing fundamental language rights for everyone in the province...

, “effectively making the federal government French-only in the province,” according to Maclean’s. This bill was defeated on May, 2008, with Bloc and NDP MPs voting in favour and Conservative and Liberal MPs opposed.

The second private member’s bill is NDP MP Yvon Godin’s
Yvon Godin
Yvon Godin is a Canadian politician.Godin is currently a New Democratic Party Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Acadie—Bathurst since 1997. Previously, Godin was a labour representative for the United Steelworkers...

 Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages) (Bill C-232). If adopted, this bill will have the effect of blocking any candidate who is not already sufficiently bilingual to understand oral arguments in both official languages from being appointed to the Supreme Court. This bill was passed at third reading on March 31, with all NDP, Liberal and Bloc members in support and all Conservative MPs opposed. and is currently before the Senate.

Conservative Party of Canada and its predecessors


The Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada , is a political party in Canada which was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. It is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum...

 was created in 2003 by the merger of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was a Canadian political party with a centre-right stance on economic issues and, after the 1970s, a centrist stance on social issues....

 and the Canadian Alliance. The new party adopted the principles of the old Progressive Conservatives as its founding principles, with only a handful of changes. One of these was the addition of the following founding principle, which is lifted almost verbatim from Section 16(1) of the Charter of Rights:

“A belief that English and French have equality of status, and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.”

At its founding convention in 2005, the new party added the following policy to its Policy Declaration (the official compilation of the policies that it had adopted at the convention):
“The Conservative Party believes that Canada’s official languages constitute a unique and significant social and economic advantage that benefit all Canadians.

"i) A Conservative Government will support the Official Languages Act ensuring that English and French have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.

"ii) The Conservative Party will work with the provinces and territories to enhance opportunities for Canadians to learn both official languages."


Prior to this, in the 1980s and 1990s, the Reform Party of Canada
Reform Party of Canada
The Reform Party of Canada was a Canadian federal political party that existed from 1987 to 2000. It was originally founded as a Western Canada-based protest party, but attempted to expand eastward in the 1990s. It viewed itself as a populist party....

 had advocated the policy's repeal. However, the party's position moderated with time. By 1999, the Blue Book (the party's declaration of its then-current policies) stated that "The Reform Party supports official bilingualism in key federal institutions, such as Parliament and the Supreme Court, and in critical federal services in parts of the country where need is sufficient to warrant services on a cost-effective basis." By 2002, the policy declaration of the Reform Party's political successor, the Canadian Alliance
Canadian Alliance
The Canadian Alliance , formally the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance , was a Canadian conservative political party that existed from 2000 to 2003. The party was the successor to the Reform Party of Canada and inherited its position as the Official Opposition in the House of Commons and held...

, had been moderated further, and stated that it was "the federal government's responsibility to uphold minority rights" by providing services in both languages in any "rural township or city neighbourhood where at least ten percent of the local population uses either English or French in its daily life."

Liberal Party of Canada


The Liberal Party
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 sees itself as the party of official bilingualism, as it was a Liberal prime minister, Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

, who enacted the first Official Languages Act in 1969 and who entrenched detailed protections for the two official languages in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

The depth of the party’s commitment to official bilingualism is demonstrated by the fact that the constitution of the Liberal Party contains provisions modeled almost word-for-word on Section 16(1)
Section Sixteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Sixteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the first of several sections of the Charter dealing with Canada's two official languages, English and French...

 of the Charter of Rights: "English and French are the official languages of the Party and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions of the Party. In pursuing its fundamental purposes and in all its activities, the Party must preserve and promote the status, rights and privileges of English and French."

New Democratic Party


New Democrat
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

 MPs voted in favour of the 1969 Official Languages Act, the 1988 Official Languages Act, and the protections for the two official languages contained in the Charter of Rights. More recently, the party has edged towards supporting an asymmetrical version of bilingualism. Early in 2008, the party’s languages critic, Yvon Godin
Yvon Godin
Yvon Godin is a Canadian politician.Godin is currently a New Democratic Party Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Acadie—Bathurst since 1997. Previously, Godin was a labour representative for the United Steelworkers...

, stated that its MPs would vote in favour of a bill, sponsored by the Bloc Québécois, which would cause federal institutions to operate on a French-preferred or French-only basis in Quebec.

Bloc Québécois


Although the main objective of the Bloc Québécois
Bloc Québécois
The Bloc Québécois is a federal political party in Canada devoted to the protection of Quebec's interests in the House of Commons of Canada, and the promotion of Quebec sovereignty. The Bloc was originally a party made of Quebec nationalists who defected from the federal Progressive Conservative...

 is to assist in the secession of Quebec, the party’s parliamentary caucus has maintained an active interest in issues relating to official languages policy (for example, sending MPs to participate in the standing Commons committee on official languages). The party seeks to alter federal language policy, as it applies within Quebec, so as to eliminate the statutory equality of English that is guaranteed under the Official Languages Act and other federal legislation. In recent years, this has included introducing a private member's bill (An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (Charter of the French Language) (better known as Bill C-482), intended to cause the Official Languages Act to be superseded by the Charter of the French Language for all federally-regulated corporations within Quebec.

Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories


Canada's thirteen provinces and territories have adopted widely diverging policies with regard to minority-language services for their respective linguistic minorities. Given the wide range of services, such as policing, health care and education, that fall under provincial jurisdiction, these divergences have considerable importance.

New Brunswick


Of Canada's ten provinces, only one (New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

) has voluntarily chosen to become officially bilingual. New Brunswick's bilingual status is constitutionally entrenched under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

. Sections 16 - 20 of the Charter include parallel sections guaranteeing the same rights at the federal level and at the provincial level (New Brunswick only).
  • Section 16(2) is a largely symbolic statement that "English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick" with "equality of status";
  • Section 17(2) guarantees the right to use English or French in the New Brunswick legislature;
  • Section 18(2) states that New Brunswick's laws will be bilingual, with both texts being equally authoritative, and that official publications will be bilingual;
  • Section 19(2) guarantees the right to use either official language in all New Brunswick court proceedings;
  • Section 20(2) guarantees the right to receive provincial government services in either official language.

Quebec


French has been the only official language in Quebec since 1974, when the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa
Robert Bourassa
Jean-Robert Bourassa, was a politician in Quebec, Canada. He served as the 22nd Premier of Quebec in two different mandates, first from May 12, 1970, to November 25, 1976, and then from December 12, 1985, to January 11, 1994, serving a total of just under 15 years as Provincial Premier.-Early...

 enacted the The Official Language Act
Official Language Act (Quebec)
The Official Language Act of 1974 , also known as Bill 22, is an act of the National Assembly of Quebec which made French the sole official language of Quebec, a province of Canada...

 (better-known as "Bill 22"). However, the province's language law does provide for limited services in English. As well, the province is obliged, under Section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867, to allow the provincial legislature to operate in both French and English, and to allow all Quebec courts to operate in both languages. Section 23 of the Charter applies to Quebec, but to a more limited degree than in other provinces; Quebec is required to provide an education in English to all children whose Canadian citizen parents were educated in English in Canada, while all other provinces are required to provide an education in French to the children of Canadian citizen parents who either received their education in French in Canada or have French mother tongue.

In 1977, the Parti Québécois
Parti Québécois
The Parti Québécois is a centre-left political party that advocates national sovereignty for the province of Quebec and secession from Canada. The Party traditionally has support from the labour movement. Unlike many other social-democratic parties, its ties with the labour movement are informal...

 government of René Lévesque
René Lévesque
René Lévesque was a reporter, a minister of the government of Quebec, , the founder of the Parti Québécois political party and the 23rd Premier of Quebec...

 introduced the Charter of the French Language
Charter of the French Language
The Charter of the French Language , also known as Bill 101 and Loi 101, is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the only official language of Quebec, and framing fundamental language rights for everyone in the province...

(better known as "Bill 101") to promote and preserve the French language in the province, indirectly disputing the federal bilingualism policy. Initially, Bill 101 banned the use of all languages but French on most commercial signs in the province (except for companies with four employees or fewer), but those limitations were later loosened by allowing other languages on signs, as long as the French version is predominant. Bill 101 also requires that children of most immigrants residing in Quebec attend French-language public schools; the children of Canadian citizens who have received their education in Canada in English may attend English-language public schools, which are operated by English-language school boards throughout the province. The controversy over this part of Quebec's language legislation has lessened in recent years as these laws became more entrenched and the public use of French increased.

Quebec's language laws have been the subject of a number of legal rulings. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

 ruled in the case of Ford v. Quebec (A.G.) that the commercial sign law provisions of Bill 101, which banned the use of the English language on outdoor signs, were unconstitutional. In 1989, the Quebec National Assembly invoked the "Notwithstanding Clause"
Section Thirty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Thirty-three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Constitution of Canada. It is commonly known as the notwithstanding clause , or as the override power, and it allows Parliament or provincial legislatures to override certain portions of the Charter...

 of the Charter of Rights to set aside enforcement of the court ruling for five years. A UN appeal of the 'McIntyre Case' resulted in a condemnation of Quebec's sign law — regardless of the legality of the notwithstanding clause under Canadian law. In response, in 1993 Quebec enacted amendments to the sign law, availing itself of the suggestions proposed in the losing 1988 Supreme Court ruling by allowing other languages on commercial signs, subject to French being markedly predominant .

On March 31, 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the interpretation made by the provincial administration of the "major part" criterion in Quebec's language of instruction provisions violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

. This criterion allows students who have completed the "major part" of their primary education in English in Canada to continue their studies in English in Quebec. The Court did not strike down the law but, as it had done in its 1988 ruling on sign laws, presented the province with a set of criteria for interpreting the law in conformity with the Charter of Rights, broadening the interpretation of the phrase "major part."

Elsewhere in Canada


Although no Canadian province has officially adopted English as its sole official language, English is the de facto language of government services and internal government operations in Canada's eight remaining provinces. Service levels in French vary greatly from one province to another (and sometimes within different parts of the same province).

For example, under the terms of Ontario's 1986 French Language Services Act
French Language Services Act
The French Language Services Act is a law in the province of Ontario, Canada which is intended to protect the rights of Franco-Ontarians, or French-speaking people, in the province....

, Francophones in 25 designated areas across the province—but not in other parts of the province—are guaranteed access to provincial government services in French. Similarly, since 2005, the City of Ottawa has been officially required under Ontario law (City of Ottawa Act) to set a municipal policy on English and French.

In Alberta, the Alberta School Act protects the right of French speaking people to receive school instruction in the French language in the province.

In Manitoba, the French Language Services Policy guarantees access to provincial government services in French, and various kinds of French-language education is provided, despite the overwhelming rejection of these policies in referendums across the province in 1983. These services were the result of a compromise after the Federal courts overturned the province's over 70-year history of recognition of only the English language in cases like Reference re Manitoba Language Rights
Reference re Manitoba Language Rights
Reference re Manitoba Language Rights [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721 was a reference question posed to the Supreme Court of Canada regarding provisions in the Manitoba Act stipulating the provision of French language services in the province of Manitoba...

. A case brought by the Societe Franco-Manitobaine threatened to overturn every single law passed since 1890.

French and English are official languages in the Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

.

In addition to English and French, Inuktitut
Inuktitut
Inuktitut or Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, Eastern Canadian Inuit language is the name of some of the Inuit languages spoken in Canada...

 is also an official language in Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

.

In addition to English and French, the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

 accords official status to nine aboriginal languages (Chipewyan, Cree
Cree language
Cree is an Algonquian language spoken by approximately 117,000 people across Canada, from the Northwest Territories and Alberta to Labrador, making it the aboriginal language with the highest number of speakers in Canada. It is also spoken in the U.S. state of Montana...

, Gwich’in
Gwich’in language
The Gwich’in language is the Athabaskan language of the Gwich’in indigenous people. It is also known in older or dialect-specific publications as Kutchin, Takudh, Tukudh, or Loucheux. In the Northwest Territories and Yukon of Canada, it is used principally in the towns of Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort...

, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun
Inuvialuktun, or Western Canadian Inuit language, Western Canadian Inuktitut, Western Canadian Inuktun comprises three Inuit dialects spoken in the northern Northwest Territories by those Canadian Inuit who call themselves Inuvialuk .Inuvialuktun is spoken by the Inuit of the Mackenzie River delta...

, North Slavey
Slavey language
Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey First Nations of Canada in the Northwest Territories where it also has official status....

, South Slavey
Slavey language
Slavey is an Athabaskan language spoken among the Slavey First Nations of Canada in the Northwest Territories where it also has official status....

 and Tłįchǫ or Dogrib
Dogrib language
Dogrib, the English translation of the indigenous name ' , is a Northern Athabaskan language spoken by the First Nations Tłı̨chǫ people of the Canadian territory Northwest Territories...

). NWT residents have the right to use any of the territory's eleven official languages in a territorial court and in debates and proceedings of the legislature. However, laws are legally binding only in their French and English versions, and the government only publishes laws and other documents in the territory's other official languages when asked by the legislature. Furthermore, access to services in any language is limited to institutions and circumstances where there is significant demand for that language or where it is reasonable to expect it given the nature of the services requested. In practice, this means that only English language services are universally available and there is no guarantee that other languages will be used by any particular government service except for the courts. Following a 2006 court ruling, universal French-language services are also mandatory.

Second-language education


Canada’s thirteen provincial and territorial education systems place a high priority on boosting the number of bilingual high school graduates. For example, in 2008 New Brunswick's provincial government reconfirmed its goal of boosting the percentage of bilingualism among graduates from its current rate of 34% to 70% rate by 2012. In 2003, the federal government announced a ten-year plan of subsidies to provincial education ministries with the goal of boosting bilingualism among all Canadian graduates from its then-current level of 24% to 50% by 2013.

French second-language education (FSL)


Three methods of providing French second language education (known as “FSL”) exist side-by-side in each of the provinces (including Quebec, where extensive French-language education opportunities are available for the province’s large population of non-Francophone children):
  • Core French
  • French Immersion
  • Extended French

Core French


Non-Francophone students learn French by taking courses on the French language as part of an education which is otherwise conducted in English. In Quebec and New Brunswick, French classes begin in Grade 1. In the other provinces, French classes typically start in Grade 4 or 5. Students normally receive about 600 hours of French-language classes by the time of graduation. The goal of “Core French” programs is not to produce fully bilingual graduates, but rather “...to provide students with the ability to communicate adequately in the second language, and to provide students with linguistic tools to continue their second-language studies by building on a solid communicative base.”

One result of this is that levels of comprehension are often lower than those which parents would probably prefer. A scholar who interviewed a former New Brunswick premier, as well as the province’s deputy ministers of education and health and the chairman of its Board of Management and Official Languages Branch reports: “[A]ll expressed reservations about the effectiveness of the Core program in promoting individual bilingualism and believed the program must be improved if anglophone students are to obtain a level of proficiency in the French language.”

French immersion



Non-Francophone students with no previous French-language training learn French by being taught all subjects in the French language, rather than by taking courses on the French language as part of an education which is otherwise conducted in English. In “early immersion”, students are placed in French-language classes starting in kindergarten or Grade 1.

In “late immersion”, the children are placed in French-language classes in a later grade. Currently, 7% of eligible students outside of Quebec are enrolled in French immersion programs.

Extended French Program


Some schools in Ontario offer a third method of FSL education: the Extended French program. Students enter into this program as early as Grade 4—the starting grade is set by each region's school board—and may continue the program through to graduation. The program can also be entered when beginning secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

; however, as there is a prerequisite number of previous instruction hours, usually only students previously enrolled in the Extended French or French Immersion programs can enter. In this program, at least 25% of all instruction must be in French. From Grades 4 through 8, this means that at least one course per year other than "French as a Second Language" must be taught solely in French. From Grades 9 through 12, along with taking the Extended French language course every year, students must complete their mandatory Grade 9 Geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 and Grade 10 Canadian History credits in French. Students who complete these required courses and take one extra credit taught in French receive a certificate upon graduation in addition to their diploma
Ontario Secondary School Diploma
The Ontario Secondary School Diploma is a diploma granted to high school graduates in the province of Ontario.-Diploma requirements:The Ontario Academic Credit system applies to students from Grades 9 through 12...

.

English second-language education (ESL)


Quebec’s educations system provides ESL on a more restricted basis to the children of immigrants and to students who are members of the province's Francophone majority.
  • Core English: Most non-anglophone students are required to enroll in French-language schools. English is taught to all students, starting in Grade 1, in a program that is essentially identical to the “Core French" taught to English-speaking students in the other provinces.
  • Programs of English immersion have existed for French-speaking students in Quebec but these programs are often in conflict with the official language policies of the Quebec government.

See also

  • Attorney General of Quebec v. Blaikie
    Attorney General of Quebec v. Blaikie (No. 1)
    Quebec v. Blaikie, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 1016 is a leading decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on language rights in the Constitution Act, 1867...

  • Bilingualism in Hong Kong
    Bilingualism in Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is an officially bilingual territory. Under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Official Languages Ordinance , "English and Chinese" are, of equal status, the official languages of the territory. However, it is not specified which variety of "Chinese" is referred to...

  • Canadians for Language Fairness
    Canadians for Language Fairness
    Canadians for Language Fairness is an organization in Canada that campaigns against the application and enforcement of the Official bilingualism in Canada policy in various jurisdictions within the country....

  • Charlebois v. Saint John (City)
    Charlebois v. Saint John (City)
    Charlebois v. Saint John [2005] 3 S.C.R. 563 was a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada on minority language rights in New Brunswick. The Court found no statutory obligation on municipalities for bilingualism in court proceedings.-Background:...

  • Language demographics of Quebec
    Language demographics of Quebec
    This article presents the current language demographics of the Canadian province of Quebec.-Demographic terms:The complex nature of Quebec's linguistic situation, with individuals who are often bilingual or multilingual, has required the use of multiple terms in order to describe who speaks which...

  • Bilingualism in Ottawa
    Bilingualism in Ottawa
    One controversial aspect of the City of Ottawa Act is the manner in which it addresses official bilingualism within Ottawa's municipal government...

  • Official bilingualism in the public service of Canada
    Official bilingualism in the public service of Canada
    Because Canada has, for over two centuries, contained both English- and French-speakers, the question of the language used in the administration of public affairs has always been a sensitive issue....

  • Official Languages Act (Canada)
    Official Languages Act (Canada)
    The Official Languages Act is a Canadian law that came into force on September 9, 1969, which gives English and French equal status in the government of Canada. This makes them "official" languages, having preferred status in law over all other languages...

  • R. v. Beaulac
    R. v. Beaulac
    R. v. Beaulac [1999] 1 S.C.R. 768 is a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada on language rights. Notably, the majority adopted a liberal and purposive interpretation of language rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, overturning conservative case law such as Société des Acadiens...

  • Reference re Manitoba Language Rights
    Reference re Manitoba Language Rights
    Reference re Manitoba Language Rights [1985] 1 S.C.R. 721 was a reference question posed to the Supreme Court of Canada regarding provisions in the Manitoba Act stipulating the provision of French language services in the province of Manitoba...

  • Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents
    Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents
    Société des Acadiens v. Association of Parents, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 549 is an early Supreme Court of Canada decision on minority language rights under section 19 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms...

  • Spanish language in the United States - similar issue in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Languages of Canada
  • Timeline of official languages policy in Canada
  • Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories
    Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories
    The Language policies of Canada's province and territories vary substantially between different regions and also between different eras. From the 1890s until the 1960s, English was the only language that most government services were provided in outside of Quebec and using French in the courts or...


External links