Official languages ​​| Bill C-13 insufficient, according to economist Mario Polèse

(Ottawa) Although it includes great advances, Bill C-13 can slow the decline of French in Canada, but it will not succeed in stopping it, believes economist Mario Polèse. To achieve its objective, the government must break away from a principle that was dear to Trudeau Sr.

Posted at 6:06 p.m.

Mylene Crete

Mylene Crete
The Press

“This bill does not succeed in freeing itself from this old concept at the birth of equality of the two languages, he explains in an interview. This is what Pierre Elliott Trudeau was trying to establish and at the time it was revolutionary. It must be remembered that until 1969, the two languages ​​did not have equal status in Canada. »

In a study conducted for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the economist proposes a series of amendments to Bill C-13 to modernize the Official Languages ​​Act. The “central role” of Quebec and the “particular role” of Acadie in the preservation of French in Canada must be recognized in this lesiglation, according to him.

“Today, equality between the two languages ​​is no longer enough because the two languages ​​are not equal in their power of attraction and in their importance, period,” he observes. So, we have to accept that if we want French to remain, especially outside Quebec, a truly living language, importantly, we have to agree to give predominance to French. »

He suggests renaming the “regions with a strong Francophone presence”, a term included in Bill C-13, “Francophone priority zones” where there would be language protection measures. For example, federal institutions and businesses under federal jurisdiction such as banks could be required to use French as the language of work in municipalities with a French-speaking population exceeding 50%.

“It’s not just a question of law, it’s also a question of linguistic security,” he maintains. Currently, even with the best intentions, this law does not provide Acadians with linguistic security. She says yes individually, the Acadian in Shippagan or Chéticamp has the right to be served in French, but that is not enough to ensure linguistic security for the community. »

He cites the example of Switzerland where linguistic rights are linked to given territories. “There were French-speaking parents in Zurich, a German-speaking canton, who with their own money opened a French-speaking primary school for their children and the canton of Zurich went to court to say ‘no, it’s not allowed’ because that in this canton the language is German, he says. The township won and the school had to close even though it was a private school. »

Introducing such a concept of territoriality in Canada would make it possible to designate areas where French would predominate, he argues.

In an interview at The Press Monday, Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said she wanted to ensure that French could become the language of work in businesses under federal jurisdiction located in regions with a strong Francophone presence. The definition of these regions will have to be defined by regulation after the adoption of the bill.

Bill C-13 is currently under study in parliamentary committee. The Bloc Québécois considers that it does not go far enough. He asks that the Charter of the French language, which makes French the “sole official” and “common” language of Quebec, be the only applicable legislation for the language of work in companies under federal jurisdiction in the province. Mario Polèse believes that Ottawa would do well to harmonize its law with that of Quebec to ensure that they are compatible.

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Official languages ​​| Bill C-13 insufficient, according to economist Mario Polèse

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