Statement by the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada on the appeal of the Federal Court’s decision in the FFCB case

For immediate release

Gatineau, Quebec, October 27, 2021

Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge made the following statement today:

“As the Federal Court of Appeal hearing begins, I am proud to join the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique (FFCB) as an appellant in its case against the Government of Canada.

“In its 2018 decision, the Federal Court employed a restrictive interpretation of the nature and scope of the duties under Part VII of the Official Languages Act, which significantly weakened that part of the legislation. This decision has had a significant negative impact on the language rights of official language minority communities across the country and on the way in which my office can conduct its investigations. This is why I filed the appeal. My written argument explains my position on this decision, which was a clear setback for language rights.

“As co-appellant in this case, I am hoping that the Court of Appeal will set aside the Federal Court’s decision and give to Part VII of the Official Languages Act a meaning that reflects the legislators’ intent to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and to support and assist their development.

“Beyond this court process, I have also intensified my intercessions on the political scene with respect to modernizing the Official Languages Act. In response to the restrictive interpretation employed by the trial judge, I recommended to the government that it establish a regulatory framework that outlines how federal institutions are to carry out their duty to take positive measures. Such a regulatory framework would enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and promote both official languages.

“The vitality and development of these communities are still one of my top priorities, and I will continue to make every effort to ensure that they can continue to thrive.”

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