How has the linguistic situation changed 40 years since the enactment of the Official Languages Act in Canada?
Monday, September 07, 2009
It's now the 40th anniversary of the enacting of the Official Languages Act in Canada, and here and there you can find articles reflecting on the act and the changes it has brought about in the decades since it was first enacted. Graham Fraser (the Official Languages Commissioner) naturally gave a talk about it too, saying that without the act Canada would not be the country that we know today.
Some of the article:
According to Mr. Fraser, the law "was very important for Francophones, but also for all Canadians." He believes that tremendous progress has been made over 40 years, but that there is still room for improvement.
He indicated, however, that there is still misunderstanding on the goals of the law. According to him, the objective is not to make all Canadians bilingual, but to ensure that the citizens of the country are able to obtain services in their language of choice, without having to become bilingual.
Graham Fraser noted that at the beginning, the law had been received quite negatively by anglophone Canadians: 56% were opposed according to polls at the time, and that proportion increased to 70% in the west of the country. He said that the situation had changed. "Now there is a general level of support throughout the country that recognizes the importance of linguistic duality in Canada, which is enormous progress."
To illustrate what has been accomplished through the law, Mr. Fraser said that 40 years ago it was difficult for francophones to obtain services with the federal government in French. Now, 75% of services are available in the two official languages.
The Commission noted that this year the Supreme Court of Canada ordered that the federal government, when offering a service, not just simply make a translation but to also tailor the service to the community concerned.
I haven't seen a video of this yet, but YouTube has two videos from a talk he gave just six months ago on E/F bilingualism in Canada so it should be pretty much the same information.