Statement from the Commissioner of Official Languages about filing a brief in the appeal of the Federal Court’s decision in the FFCB case

News releases | Gatineau, Quebec -

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

Today I am proud to stand with the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie‑Britannique (FFCB) as an appellant before the Federal Court of Appeal. In filing our written argument in the FFCB’s case against the Government of Canada, we have reached an important milestone.

“The Federal Court’s decision on May 23, 2018, which found in favour of the Government, has a significant negative impact not only on the language rights of official language minority communities, but also on how my office can conduct its investigations. I strongly believe that this decision is a setback for language rights, which is why I decided to appeal.

It is my hope that the Court of Appeal will set aside the 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.

The Government needs to be consistent in its message, both in public and in the courts. Last fall, Canada’s Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie urged me to give my mandate a broad and liberal interpretation. Three months later, I find myself having to fight before the courts to make the Government adopt the same interpretation.

What’s more, the federal government asks its institutions to comply with Canadian Heritage’s guide on Part VII of the Act but had refused to let the Federal Court use the same guide to interpret the institutions’ Part VII obligations.

At a time when language rights are being eroded across the country, the federal government promised to protect official language minority communities. In this year of the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, when Canadians are looking to their government for leadership, I am calling on the Government of Canada to turn its words into actions.

I myself will continue to take all necessary measures to have this restrictive interpretation of Part VII set aside in order to ensure the vitality and development of Canada’s official language minority communities.”