Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lord report on official languages

Bernard Lord's report on official languages was released today. At first blush, the big recommendation seems to be urging Ottawa to contribute $1 billion over 5 years to promoting official languages, which represents a substantial increase over the past 5-year plan. I am eager to see the full report, as someone who contributed to the regional forums. I will post more on this as I work through the details.

If you'll permit me one snide remark though, I'm glad that someone from New Brunswick still seems committed to official languages.

1. It's remarkable to see how many of the issues raised at my regional forum seem to have been repeated elsewhere in Canada.

2. The focus on the challenges faced by Quebec's anglophone minority is quite interesting - particularly with regards to the "imperfect" bilingualism of young Quebec anglophones, which far outstrips that of their counterparts in the rest of Canada, and yet is a bar to employment in their home province.

3. There is a strong focus on immigrant integtation, and a desire to attract francophone immigrants to other provinces.

4. I like that the theme of Canada developing strength as a leader in "language industries" and "language technologies" was picked up. This really impressed me in my regional forum.

5. Interesting quote: "One of the issues most often mentioned during these consultations has been the need to send a clear message to Canadians about the importance of linguistic duality. Many feel that a discourse based on resistance and the defence of language and culture should be avoided, and that actions should instead be focused on revitalizing linguistic duality and identity, and promoting openness toward other cultures and ways of life. By doing so, the Government would be fostering the development of closer ties between minority anglophone and francophone communities, and between minority communities and the surround majority, particularly in the areas of culture, language and education.

This strikes me as very sound reasoning, and it will be interesting to see what strategies are developed to support this direction.

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