Review on the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act 2013-2014
Development of official language minority communities and promotion of English and French in Canadian society (Section 41, Part VII of the Official Languages Act)
2. What key initiatives does your institution want to highlight in relation to the promotion of English and French in Canadian society? What are the tangible results of these initiatives in Canadian society? What is the determining success factor for these initiatives?
Linguistic Duality Day 2013
On September 12, 2013, the Department of Justice marked Linguistic Duality Day 2013 by organizing several activities, both in the National Capital Region and in regional offices across the country. Working under the departmental theme of new communication technologies, Department employees were invited to use the bilingual hashtag #ollo2013 on Twitter to take part in live discussion on official languages and in the day’s activities.
At a gathering in the Atrium of the East Memorial Building, Department employees listened to remarks by the Official Languages Champion and Co-Champion, as well as a presentation by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages on the use of social media within federal institutions.
Regional offices also contributed to the promotion of linguistic duality by organizing various cultural and educational activities and games, including a sampling of Quebec dishes, presentations by employees on their life experience within official language minority communities, cultural exchanges, and various interactive games.
For their part, employees from the Ontario region, came together on Linguistic Duality Day by organizing a local activity called Café Dualité. This gathering encouraged employees to celebrate the Day with Francophone music, presentations and speeches. Held in Toronto, this activity was a great success and was attended byover 75 participants. Speakers from the Centre Francophone de Toronto and from Toronto 2015 Pan Am/ParaPan Am were on hand to discuss the great number of cultural events and volunteering opportunities that allow Canadians to practice and improve their skills in their second language throughout the year.
The success of Linguistic Duality Day 2013 is largely due to the considerable and enthusiastic support of the regions: some three-quarters of the 250 employees and community guests who participated in the celebrations were from the regions. In addition to being emblematic of the commitment of Department employees in all regions, both unilingual and bilingual, it also shows that linguistic duality is at the heart of our departmental values. With the added benefit of the use of social media, the Department was able to promote the importance of linguistic duality within Canadian society.
25th anniversary celebration of the Official Languages Act of 1988
On January 9, 2014, the Department of Justice held a special celebration to mark the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the current Official Languages Act (OLA) of 1988. One of the main figures involved in the drafting of the OLA, Warren J. Newman, Senior General Counsel in the Constitutional, Administrative and International Law Section, agreed to offer his reflections on the main events that led to the adoption of this legislation. By way of an informal fireside discussion facilitated by Michel Francoeur, General Counsel and Director of the Official Languages Directorate, Mr. Newman summed up the great debates of the time and his personal involvement as a jurist assigned to the file. This event took place before an audience gathered at the Atrium of the East Memorial Building in Ottawa and was streamed live in all regions via videoconference.
This interview helped heighten the audience’s understanding of linguistic duality, which applies to all federal institutions as defined in section 3 of the OLA. As Mr. Newman so eloquently conveyed, the OLA remains a source of inspiration for countless people both in the public sector and society in general. Linguistic duality is an essential element of what it means to live in a country where the central government has two official languages.
To close the ceremony, the Associate Deputy Minister and Official Languages Champion, Pierre Legault, presented Mr. Newman with a plaque to commemorate his role in the development and adoption of the OLA.
An article capturing the highlights of the interview and of the 25th anniversary celebration was published in the Justice in Official Languages electronic newsletter. This newsletter, which will henceforth be available in electronic version only on the Justice website, is published three times a year and distributed to over 680 subscribers. It presents various issues related to access to justice in both official languages and highlights inspiring practices that drive progress in this area.
The Department of Justice, as part of the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities, has been providing financial support for several years to four jurilinguistic centres in order to increase the court system’s capacity to offer services in French and English. The funding is used, among other things, for the production of lexicons, including the standardization of common law terminology in French. It also helps to improve access to justice in English in Quebec via the production of language and legal tools designed specifically for Anglophone jurists in this province.
Cumulative funding totalling $860,437 for the year 2013-2014 was provided to the four centres, which include: the Centre de traduction et de terminologie juridiques de Moncton; the Centre for legal translation and documentation of the University of Ottawa; the Division de l’éducation permanente et service de perfectionnement linguistique de l’Université de Saint-Boniface; and, McGill University’s Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law.
The development of jurilinguistic tools allows professors to publish research and doctrine in French and in English, lawyers to defend the interests of their clients with the appropriate terminology, and legislative services at various government levels to use proper terminology when drafting laws and regulations. The four centres also collaborate within the Network of Jurilinguistic Centres in order to coordinate their efforts for the advancement of jurilinguistics in both official languages.
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