Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Official Languages Commissioner Report on Bilingualism in Canada’s International Relations

Canada's Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, today released a report on how well Canada's 2 official languages are being represented in the country's foreign relations.

The report looks at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Privy Council Office

It is a follow-up to the 2004 study entitled Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada’s International Relations.

Of the 29 recommendations made in the 2004 study, 10 were implemented, 14 were partially implemented and five were not implemented.

From the press release:

"The Commissioner made a point of emphasizing that Canadians often turn to missions abroad when they are in vulnerable situations, whether it be a conflict situation, lost passport or other emergency, and service in both languages is essential. The follow-up study shows that while consular services are provided in both official languages, there is still work to be done to improve bilingual security services. 'Linguistic duality is a key Canadian value and a distinguishing feature of our collective identity. Our network of over 260 diplomatic and consular offices in 150 countries is Canada’s most visible international presence and security services are often the first point of contact,' said the Commissioner. 'Ensuring services in both official languages is not only a question of safeguarding our image of a welcoming country internationally, it is a question of respect for Canadian citizens'."

"The Commissioner also indicated his concern about cuts that were made to DFAIT’s Public Diplomacy Program as well as the elimination of the Francophonie Promotion Fund and called on the Department to assess the impact of the elimination of the Fund on its capacity to contribute to promoting linguistic duality internationally. 'Any weakening in the capacity to promote official languages in Canada’s international affairs is a step backward. Instead, the governement should be taking concrete steps to highlight the importance of projecting Canada’s linguistic duality in our international relations'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:56 pm

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