Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

November 21, 2007 08:20 ET

The Commissioner of Official Languages Files a Motion for Leave to Intervene in the Matter of the Elimination of the Court Challenges Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2007) - Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages, has decided to file a motion with the Federal Court of Canada for leave to intervene in the legal proceedings initiated by the Federation des communautes francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) to reverse the government's decision to eliminate the Court Challenges Program. "The issues before the Court are of national interest," said the Commissioner. "These proceedings give the courts the opportunity, for the first time, to clarify the scope of federal institutions' official languages obligations contained in Part VII of the Official Languages Act following the amendments made in 2005. This will have a considerable impact on federal institutions and official language minority communities."

These proceedings were initiated following an investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which received over 100 complaints on the federal government's 2006 expenditure review, specifically its decision to cut funding for the Program. In the final investigation report, the Commissioner concluded that the 2006 expenditure review did not honour the Government of Canada's commitment set out in Part VII of the Act. "Our investigation report contains a legal analysis that shows the Court Challenges Program contributed both directly and significantly to the development of language rights in Canada," added Mr. Fraser. "Official language minority communities need to have reasonable access to the courts to ensure that their constitutional rights are respected. The elimination of the Court Challenges Program deprives these communities of an essential tool for their protection and development."

Under Part VII of the Act, every federal institution has the duty to ensure that positive measures are taken to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and support and assist their development, and foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. The Commissioner went on to say that "As the ombudsman responsible for monitoring the application of the Official Languages Act, I have a vested interest in ensuring that federal institutions fulfill these obligations. These proceedings will have a direct impact on my mandate. As a result, I would like to have my perspective heard before the Court."

The Attorney General of Canada and the FCFA have both filed submissions, and the FCFA has asked the Court to hear the case in early 2008.

Contact Information

  • Information or an interview:
    Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
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