[EDLING:355] A plea for language programs in Canada

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Sat Oct 23 17:37:01 UTC 2004

By way of the Language Policy List:

>>From the Toronto Star, Oct. 20, 2004. 01:00 AM

A plea for language programs in Canada


OTTAWA Paul Martin's budget cutbacks in the 1990s damaged language rights,
and Official Languages Commissioner Dyane Adam is calling on the
government to spare the language programs from the latest round of budget

In her annual report to Parliament, Adam said that spending reviews of the
kind announced by the government in December 2003 should not lead to
setbacks for language programs.

She pointed out that her office had studied the impact of the government
transformations caused by the cutbacks in the 1990s, and found "that the
language rights of citizens had been eroded" as a result.

"The current exercise should not lead to a second cutback," she said in
the report.

Revenue Minister John McCallum is now reviewing all public spending with
the goal of reallocating $12 billion. Most departments have been called
upon to cut back their spending.

"The Official Languages Act is as yet, not, after 35 years, fully
implemented," she told reporters. "It's still a work in progress."

She pointed out that the federal government has embarked on a five-year
plan to redress the damage that was done during the period of cutbacks.

"If we are in redress mode, it is not the time to reduce the resources,"
she said.

Gerry Nichols, vice-president of the National Citizenship Coalition, who
has called Adam a "fanatic," immediately issued a statement accusing her
of living in a dream world.

"Dyane Adam may not believe this, but policing official bilingualism is
likely not a top priority for most Canadians," Nicholls said. "In fact,
it's likely way down the list."

He accused her of trying to save her pet projects from the axe.

"Adam clearly has an exaggerated sense of her self-importance," Nicholls
said. "This is the same bureaucrat who wasted tax dollars with a
ridiculous investigation of Don Cherry. It's time someone reined her in."

In her report, Adam praised former Treasury Board President Lucienne
Robillard for strengthening the language requirements for senior positions
in the public service, and establishing a timetable for making
bilingualism compulsory in most management-level positions.

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