As it becomes clear that 2020 will end without the federal government taking meaningful action to modernize the Official Languages Act, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada – the national voice of Canada’s French-speaking minority communities – is sorely disappointed at this missed opportunity. The government’s failure to introduce a bill comes at the end of a year which has shown, more than ever, how serious the status of French as an official language of Canada is being eroded.
“It’s been over three years since work started on this issue. The timing is ideal, as all five parties in the House have committed to modernizing the Act. The government could have acted swiftly, like it did with Bill C-10 to modernize the Broadcasting Act. And yet, even with all the work that’s been put in this, we’re ending 2020 empty-handed,” says FCFA President Jean Johnson.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally committed to modernizing and strengthening the Act and confirmed as soon as October 2019 that introducing a bill within six months would be possible. The FCFA is calling on the Prime Minister to keep his promise and on Minister Mélanie Joly to provide details on the government’s game plan for the next steps. The Fédération is asking the government to take action so that a bill can be passed in the House by next spring.
“What does the Prime Minister have to say to French-speaking Canadians across the country who participated in good faith in the consultations to modernize the Act and are counting on his government to carry out this modernization? It’s getting harder to be confident that it’ll be done before the next election,” Mr. Johnson points out.
As rumors about a spring election are getting more persistent, the FCFA and the communities it represents are worried that there won’t be enough time to pass a bill and that it will just die on the order paper. Canada’s Francophone and Acadian communities want a sincere commitment of parliamentarians to resolve this issue as soon as possible – not after the next election.