Quebec wants special protection, promotion of French as Ottawa looks to modernize Official Languages Act

Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault, left, New Brunswick acting deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs Helene Bouchard, centre, and Melanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, take part in a plenary session during the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, Armenia, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

As Ottawa prepares to modernize the Official Languages Act, Quebec believes it is essential that it adopt a more comprehensive vision of official languages and recognize that of the two official languages, French is the only minority language across Canada.

Quebec Minister responsible for Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophonie Sonia LeBel wants to share Quebec's five points on this subject with the federal government.

LeBel points out that as the only official minority language in Canada, the French language is the only one in need of protection and promotion across the country. She said that the modernized law should therefore take note both of the specificity of Quebec and of the linguistic issues of Francophones elsewhere in Canada.

The minister notes that we must talk about equity and no longer about equality in terms of language, since the needs are not the same everywhere.

She explained that "to have equity and strengthen French across Canada, we need this notion of asymmetry between the two languages. And for this, French must therefore benefit from special protection and promotion measures."

The proposed points also include respect for the rights and consideration of the issues and real needs of English-speaking Quebecers, as well as respect for the role and responsibilities of Quebec towards the Francophone and Acadian communities across the country.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2021.

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