Ottawa reporter builds bridges between French and English

(NC)—Being bilingual on Parliament Hill is not that unusual–but taking it as seriously as Globe and Mail correspondent Daniel Leblanc does is another matter altogether.

“When we become journalists, we sometimes look for our niche. We ask ourselves what we can bring to the profession. I told myself that one of my strengths would be to build bridges between French and English Canada.”

Able to understand and explain Canadian politics in both official languages, Leblanc always wanted to bridge the gap between both cultures. Perhaps it was being born in Ottawa and being raised across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, that gave him a unique perspective. Family trips across Canada, having a brother who insisted on watching Saturday morning cartoons in English and studying English at Collège Saint-Alexandre in Gatineau influenced the conscious decision he made to become truly bilingual.

Today, his language skills are a real asset to him. He can easily speak with someone in their language of choice. He’s also developed a clear picture of the two official language communities, which he feels are at once similar and different. They are similar because they are both based on social values, but different because each has its own values as well.

One way to remain close to his roots was to write his book on the sponsorship scandal, Nom de code : MaChouette, in French, but his family and his city are his real haven. He and his wife live in Gatineau and they try to ensure that their three children live and grow up in French.

2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the Official Languages Act. “Placing value on Canada’s two official languages is an investment in the future, from a professional, personal and cultural perspective,” says Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser.

There is more information available about official languages on the Office of the Commissioner’s Web site at www.officiallanguages.gc.ca.

- News Canada
Word Count: 312