We keep getting people running for election in the City of Ottawa council saying that they are not aware of the French agenda to make Ottawa “Officially Bilingual” and that the current legislation (by-law 2001-170) is not sufficient for the 14% of French speakers in Ottawa to be properly served. Here is further proof that they haven’t given up even though the current council has said quite clearly that they are not going to entertain making Ottawa officially bilingual. The City of Ottawa’s language policy has been described as “practical bilingualism”, even by Bob Chiarelli who was instrumental in bringing the policy in. However that is still not enough for these French groups!!!
Will the candidates running for the election on October 27th at least let the English-speakers in Ottawa (the over-whelming majority) know that they would not support the French agenda? If you have no time to reply to our questionnaire, will you at least let us know that you don’t support making the City of Ottawa “Officially Bilingual”.
The debate on the City of Ottawa has focused on the will of its elected officials to take an affirmative position on the equal status of English and French in the municipal unit.
Government of Canada has a role to play in this debate. This is essential to the development of municipal services in both official languages and, ultimately, in the constitutional recognition of the equal status of the latter within the City of Ottawa.
A National Issue
Avoid the speech that the federal government should not be involved in the case only on the basis of the legislative jurisdiction of the Province of Ontario in the creation and management of municipalities. The stakes become national and it is better for the federal to have a well stated in the record position of being in reaction and miss a historic opportunity to advance the status of official languages in the capital.
The federal government has already contributed money in the past to improve the ability of the City of Ottawa to provide services in French. This contribution must continue and be enhanced. In addition, the federal government must also encourage, through exchange programs, transfer of employees who can improve the delivery of services in both official languages at the municipal level and help Ottawa better serve the public.
Do not believe the designation requires all municipal employees to become bilingual but rather those that offer services or communicate with the public.
Similarly, the level of bilingualism should be subject to other municipal offices where, as applicable, the English or justified use of French. This is consistent with the principles of section 20 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms dealing with communication with the central administration of the Government of Canada.
The constitutional entrenchment of the status of both official languages at the municipal level should be done following a request from the Government of Ontario. The federal government can not act unilaterally in this entrenchment and it is necessary that a provincial law states the status of French and English in the City of Ottawa. This procedure entrench the status of French and English is very simple. This is to comply with the provisions of the Constitution Act, 1982, and in particular section 43.
It takes resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario granting status to the French and English languages in the City of Ottawa.
This approach is very simple but legally implies willingness of politicians both Queen's Park and Parliament of Canada. And this is the great challenge for francophones. Indeed, politicians in both Ottawa and Toronto must be convinced of the need to ask this history management.
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