Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

November 27, 2007 09:15 ET

Graham Fraser Calls on the Federal Government to Take Action in Three Priority Areas

Commissioner of Official Languages Begins the Second Year of His Mandate

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 27, 2007) - "The federal government has an important role to play in Canada's linguistic duality," Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages, said today. "I expect to see results over the course of the next year in three specific areas." In particular, he referred to the next phase of the Action Plan for Official Languages, the leadership necessary to improve active offer in bilingual federal offices and the role of linguistic duality in public service renewal.

Mr. Fraser, whose seven-year mandate began in October 2006, took advantage of an appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages today to present an overview of his first year in office and draw attention to these three "most pressing issues." He asked the parliamentarians to examine them as well.

The Commissioner recognized the Government's intention to follow up on the Action Plan for Official Languages, but would like to see more details before commenting further. "This is a much anticipated initiative that demonstrates the Government's leadership in terms of linguistic duality," Mr. Fraser continued.

Nevertheless, the Commissioner remains concerned about the poor results obtained by federal institutions in regard to service to the public and language of work, as he mentioned in his annual report published last May. "At present, the public service is taking a less rigourous, even minimalistic, approach to the Official Languages Act," said Mr. Fraser. "Without sustained leadership from managers, progress is undermined. The Clerk of the Privy Council launched an initiative to renew the public service; clearly, linguistic duality must be considered in all aspects of this reform."

The Commissioner also told parliamentarians that he intends to develop new ways to help federal institutions meet the objectives of the Official Languages Act. "Through co-operative initiatives and the adoption of a more global approach, we will be in a better position to address issues in federal institutions," said Mr. Fraser.

A review of the training offered in both official languages by the Canadian Forces will also be undertaken in the next year.

Among the other initiatives the Office of the Commissioner plans to carry out, Mr. Fraser mentioned studies on second language learning opportunities in universities and the role of linguistic duality in the organization of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in British Columbia. Additional case studies on the vitality of official language communities will also be carried out, in particular on the Anglophone communities in Quebec and the Francophonie in the northern territories.

Mr. Fraser also shared with the committee members his reasons for deciding last week to apply for intervener status in the case the Federation des communautes francophones et acadienne du Canada has initiated tore-establish the Court Challenges Program. "This legal recourse will allow the courts to clarify, for the first time, the scope of the official languages obligations contained in Part VII of the Official Languages Act, following the amendments made in 2005. This will have a major impact on federal institutions and official language communities."

Mr. Fraser's speech is available on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages' Web site at:

Contact Information

  • Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
    Robin Cantin
    Manager, Media Relations
    Cellular: 613-324-0999 or Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368