Friday, May 30, 2008

2007-2008 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages

On Thursday, Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages, tabled his annual report for 2007-2008 in Parliament.

His report is severely critical of federal government efforts to live up to its obligations under the Official Languages Act.

Fraser faults Ottawa for failing to show leadership and for its tardiness in coming up with a new Action Plan for Official Languages to replace the old one that expired in late March. The old plan had invested close to $800 million over 5 years to help official language minority communities develop health and educational institutions and to bolster public servant language training.

While it was not an issue covered in the report, Fraser did take advantage of his press conference to jump into the debate over Supreme Court of Canada Justice Bastarache's replacement. The bilingual New Brunswick judge is retiring next month. Fraser described as essential the naming of bilingual judges to the Supreme Court.

He also criticized the government's decision to scrap the Court Challenges Program. In the past, the Program had provided funding to minority language groups to prepare Charter challenges before the courts.

Last year, the Commissioner's office received 884 complaints, of which 72% were deemed admissible.

The institutions subject to the most admissible complaints were in order: Air Canada (in the lead), followed by Canada Post, Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency and National Defence. This is not surprising: by virtue of their mandate, they tend to have the most direct and regular contact with the public.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:02 pm


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