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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Official Languages Commissioner Calls for Improved Management of Linguistic Duality Abroad

The status of official languages in Canada’s foreign affairs remains fragile due to a lack of clear policy direction, said the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, today in a follow-up to the Office’s 2004 study entitled Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada’s International Relations. Of the 29 recommendations made in the 2004 study, 10 were implemented, 14 were partially implemented and five were not implemented. “While we have seen progress in a number of important areas, three years after our initial study we were hoping for a more integrated and compehensive management of official languages in Canada’s international relations. Given departments’ obligations under the new Part VII of the Official Languages Act, I expect to see marked improvements in this area in the coming months,” said the Commissioner.

As is the case with all federal institutions, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Privy Council Office are now obliged to take positive measures to foster the full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society. “These legal obligations apply both at home and abroad,” said the Commissioner. “Moreover, these departments have a tremendous opportunity before them to maximize the potential of our linguistic duality abroad by co-operating to promote English and French in Canada’s international relations.”

The Commissioner made a point of emphasizing that Canadians often turn to missions abroad when they are in vulnerable situations, whether it be a conflict situation, lost passport or other emergency, and service in both languages is essential. The follow-up study shows that while consular services are provided in both official languages, there is still work to be done to improve bilingual security services. “Linguistic duality is a key Canadian value and a distinguishing feature of our collective identity. Our network of over 260 diplomatic and consular offices in 150 countries is Canada’s most visible international presence and security services are often the first point of contact,” said the Commissioner. “Ensuring services in both official languages is not only a question of safeguarding our image of a welcoming country internationally, it is a question of respect for Canadian citizens.”

The Commissioner also indicated his concern about cuts that were made to DFAIT’s Public Diplomacy Program as well as the elimination of the Francophonie Promotion Fund and called on the Department to assess the impact of the elimination of the Fund on its capacity to contribute to promoting linguistic duality internationally. “Any weakening in the capacity to promote official languages in Canada’s international affairs is a step backward. Instead, the governement should be taking concrete steps to highlight the importance of projecting Canada’s linguistic duality in our international relations.”

Please consult the follow-up report, the recommendations and backgrounder for more information.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Robin Cantin
Manager, Media Relations
Telephone: 613-995-0374
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RECOMMENDATIONS
Follow-up study to Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada’s International Relations

Of the 29 recommendations issued to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Privy Council Office in the 2004 study, 10 were fully implemented, 14 were partially implemented and five were not implemented. The Commissioner issued 10 new recommendations (eight to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, one to Privy Council, and one to both the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Canadian Heritage). Four new deadlines were set for the implementation of the recommendations made in the study Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada’s International Relations, published in 2004.

A) New recommendations

New Recommendation 1: Cancellation of the Francophonie Promotion Fund

 

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade undertake, by September 2008, in co-operation with the appropriate official languages stakeholders, an evaluation of the impact of the cancellation of the Francophonie Promotion Fund on the Department’s ability to contribute to the promotion of the Francophonie and linguistic duality in its international relations.

New Recommendation 2: Incorporation of linguistic duality into the review of the six core services of the Trade Commissioner Service and the new Global Commerce Strategy

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade demonstrate by September 2008 that the review of the six core services of the Trade Commissioner Service and the new Global Commerce Strategy fully incorporate the promotion of linguistic duality.

New Recommendation 3:
Report on official languages in all Inspector General audits

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade adopt, starting in September 2008, the practice of reporting on official languages in all audits conducted by its Inspector General.

New Recommendation 4: Communications in a language other than English and French

 

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade adopt, by September 2008, the practice of adding a summary in English and in French to any document it issues in a language other than English and French in order to illustrate the equal status of Canada’s two official languages.

New Recommendation 5: Security services at missions

 

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade implement, by September 2008, a coordination and monitoring mechanism to ensure that security services are actively offered and immediately available in missions in both official languages.

New Recommendation 6:
New strategy for language training

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade demonstrate by September 2008 that its new strategy for language training fully addresses the need to assist rotational staff in maintaining second-language skills.

New Recommendation 7:
Language requirements for appointments abroad made by Order-in-Council

That the Privy Council Office establish language requirements by September 2008 for appointments made by Order-in-Council to missions and senior positions similar to those employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for senior officials.

New Recommendation 8:
Official Languages Champions Network

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade show, by September 2008, that it has adopted and implemented a strategy to revive its official languages champions network. This strategy should include objectives, means of action as well as monitoring and coordination mechanisms.

New Recommendation 9: Development of an official languages strategic framework

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade develop, by September 2008, jointly with other federal departments and agencies involved and the main official languages stakeholders, a policy framework for official languages in Canada’s international relations, reflecting among other things the new provisions of Part VII of the Official Languages Act, which require federal departments to take positive measures to promote the full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society.

New Recommendation 10: Co-operation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Canadian Heritage

That the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Department of Canadian Heritage formalize their co-operation in the promotion of linguistic duality abroad by agreeing on joint objectives and courses of action.

B) New deadlines for the implementation of the recommendations made in the study Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada’s International Relations (2004)

September 2008 for the implementation of the 2004 recommendation that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in co-operation with the Department of Canadian Heritage, develop internal communications strategies to increase awareness of the importance of linguistic duality among Canada-based employees in missions and locally engaged staff with respect to cultural diversity and related government initiatives.

September 2008 for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to provide the results of its review of the impact of the English-only language policy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Canada’s Francophone community. 

September 2008 for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to carry out the review recommended in the 2004 study to determine whether the existing monitoring mechanisms for Canadian studies activities are adequate, with a view to enhancing their effectiveness and encouraging, where needed, a proactive approach to promoting Canada’s linguistic duality.

September 2008 for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to adopt the comprehensive program of support referred to in the 2004 recommendation. This program will ensure that all locally engaged staff in missions possess adequate bilingual skills and will include the necessary guidelines, resources and direct assistance.