Federal Court confirms that CBC/Radio-Canada must comply with the Official Languages Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, September 9, 2014 – Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser is extremely satisfied with the decision handed down yesterday by the Federal Court of Canada in Commissioner of Official Languages and Amellal v. CBC/Radio-Canada.
“This decision puts an end to a longstanding dispute between my office and CBC/Radio-Canada. The Federal Court has clearly confirmed my authority to investigate complaints about CBC/Radio-Canada. I hope it will not appeal the ruling,” said Commissioner Fraser.
In this judgment, the Court confirmed that CBC/Radio-Canada is subject to Part VII of the Official Languages Act. Like all federal institutions, it has an obligation to take positive measures to enhance the vitality and assist the development of official language minority communities. It also has an obligation not to hinder the development and vitality of English and French minorities in Canada. The Court also confirmed that the Commissioner of Official Languages has the jurisdiction to investigate complaints made against the Corporation under the Official Languages Act.
“CBC/Radio-Canada had refused to cooperate with my investigation on the basis that I lacked jurisdiction under the Act. Today, the Court has confirmed the complainants were right to bring the situation at CBEF Windsor to my attention. My investigation was valid, and my questions were legitimate,” explained the Commissioner.
“Notwithstanding our disagreement on the extent of my powers to investigate, I have always proclaimed the importance of CBC/Radio-Canada as public broadcaster and its essential role for the vitality of official language communities in Canada,” the Commissioner continued. “I hope that we will now be able to focus all of our efforts toward serving official language communities though our respective mandates.”
“As the country’s only national public broadcaster, CBC/Radio‑Canada performs a vital function for the French-speaking community in southwestern Ontario,” noted Fraser.
In light of the May 28, 2013, decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding the renewal process for CBC/Radio‑Canada’s licences to broadcast programming services, the Federal Court concluded that most questions had now been resolved and that it was no longer necessary to continue with proceedings.
“Even though the French-speaking community of southwestern Ontario had already received some relief before the CRTC, I felt it was important for the Court to take the time to resolve the legal issues that continued to impede cooperation between CBC/Radio-Canada and my office during investigations,” said Fraser. “Now that the Court has responded fully and clearly to CBC/Radio-Canada’s concerns, I hope that the national broadcaster will let me exercise the mandate given to me by Parliament.”