It is with great pleasure that I return from my first tour in Windsor. I was invited to be a guest speaker by the ACFO, RDEE Ontario, and CFDC. Recently, this region has been going through difficult times in the car industry and has been hit by the coming “closure” of the Radio-Canada station (CBEF) and the cancellation of the French radio show “Bonjour le monde!” (French only). After the cutbacks over the past two decades, the station has gone from roughly thirty employees in the ‘90s, to two journalists. There is only one thing to say: it’s a catastrophe. If a community is not represented in the newspapers, on TV or on the radio, it can’t convince its youth to preserve their language, neither can it avoid assimilation. This is why I support wholeheartedly the public opposition to CBEF’s closure. Read more »
I am glad to know that a majority of federal members of parliament voted in favour of a bill obliging the government to appoint bilingual judges at the Supreme Court . I can only be in favour of such a bill for which, moreover, my federal colleague Graham Fraser gave his support.
For the French-speaking communities, that means a lot, because if this law came to be adopted, the government would be forced to select the future Supreme Court judges among jurists capable of hearing and understanding, without the help of an interpreter, in one or the other of both official languages.
This bill is now between hands of the justice committee to be examined. It is certainly the first step of many in this interesting debate to follow.
Today, Commissioner Fraser made public his third annual report entitled, “Two Official Languages, One Common Space”. As the year 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act (OLA) in Canada, much of the report is devoted to this occasion.
From one Commissioner to another, we all recognize the importance government leadership plays in key progress towards language reform. In this respect, the Commissioner indicated that the stage is set for such leadership today.
I also took notice of the reaction (French only) by la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities) who are discouraged that year after year, the Commissioner must continue to apply this pressure. The organization asks for strengthened leadership from the federal government and states that “(…)from our point of view, after 40 years, the delay in implementation has lasted long enough [translation]”. It is hard to disagree with this statement.
An entire chapter of Commissioner Fraser’s report is dedicated to the 40 year history of the OLA. It is not easy to summarize all of the developments in a few pages, and to write it so well too. I applaud the initiative to create a timeline on the Commission’s website. Very fascinating. You will also find a special video series on past Commissioners. Also very interesting.
The French Language Health Services Network of Eastern Ontario held its Annual General Assembly last Thursday (the 21st) in Ottawa. The Commissioner’s Office was represented by Jocelyne Samson, Senior Analyst, Investigation.
In 2008-2009, one of the major elements for both the Network and the Commissioner’s Office was obviously the proposed (and controversial) regulation on the engagement of the Francophone community. Expectations are high now for the working group chaired by the Honourable Charles Beer to put in place the French language health planning entities. Something that the Chair, Nicole Lafrenière-Davis, would have liked to see achieved before the end of her mandate. As the new Chair, Mr. Denis Vaillancourt is taking over.
One of the best moments was the vibrant homage to Gérald Savoie who will retire from Montfort Hospital, as the President and Chief Executive Officer, in October. Mr. Savoie got a standing ovation and a warm testimony from the former Chairs of the Network.
I know this seems dated, but the last few weeks have been a little crazy around here with the release of my Special Report. I still thought it was important to come back to my little one-day tour of the beautiful place of Peneteganguishene. As you may know, this region has seen many uphill battles, especially in education in 1976. So for me, I was incredibly proud to be able to stand and to speak with students of the French-language school Le Caron, certainly one of the places in Ontario that started it all in terms of educational rights.
Evidently, this is a community that is well organized with lots of specific needs waiting to be addressed. I’ve met people from all walks of life and it is always uplifting to meet such incredible persons. What struck me the most was the fact that, demographically speaking, there is a permanent shift. Barrie is not a designated region under the Act and yet, many of the Francophone community are residing there. It may just become an important issue in the years to come in terms of designation.
The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario has just launched its promotional campain regarding French language services. This dynamic and colourful campaign aims to sensitise Francophones in Ontario to make use of their rights and to ask for their services in French.
I am very impressed by all the work that has been done so far in this campaign. As Mariette Carrier-Fraser, the AFO’s Chair, has indicated, this campaign is a first since the French Language Services Act came into force twenty years ago. Congratulations!
As the advertisements indicate, asking for French language services is a personal choice, but it is also a collective responsibility. We have to spread the word. There is a responsibility for the government to actively offer French language services, just as there is a responsibility for Francophones to require them. I am glad that this campaign is conveying one of the messages that I have been repeating since I took office.
If the advertisings on the radio, the weekly newspapers, television, and bus shelters can contribute in reversing the tendency and incite Francophones to stop interacting in English with the provincial government, there is nothing else I can ask for. In a rush or not, French language services are there. Just ask for them!
Go visit www.servicesfrancais.ca