Canada: French language requests baffling

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jan 26 15:38:45 UTC 2008

 Saturday » January 26 » 2008

French language requests baffling

Kate Jaimet Canwest News Service

Alberta's francophone communities need more money because the oil boom
has drawn French-speakers to the province. The Maritimes' francophone
communities need more money because the Alberta oil boom has lured
away their French-speakers. That seeming contradiction appeared to
baffle the federal government's official languages advisor, Bernard
Lord, during a final meeting with language advocacy groups in Ottawa
Thursday before writing his report on official language policy for
Heritage Minister Josee Verner.
"He said, 'They need money on both sides of the country. What's
happening?' " said Marc-Andre Charlebois, executive director of the
Federation nationale de conseils scolaires francophones, one of about
80 organizations invited to the closed-door meeting.

Charlebois said Lord was given a logical explanation: Alberta needs
money to service the francophones it's gained, while the Maritimes
need money to attract replacements for the francophones that region
has lost. Those are the kinds of thorny issues Lord has waded through
since being appointed by the Conservative government in December to
suss out opinions about the state of French and English in Canada.
During consultations in December, the former New Brunswick premier
visited six cities, meeting with representatives of French and English
minority communities, academics and government observers.

During the final consultation session Thursday, Lord said he would
hand over his report to Verner in February. The report is expected to
become the basis for the Action Plan on Official Languages being
developed by the government for release this spring. Lord gave
participants no details about what his recommendations would be, but
Charlebois said education appears to be at the top of his mind.
Anna Maddison, president of Canadian Parents for French, said there
was a lot of discussion among participants about the need for more
Canadians to become bilingual. "There is a need for bilingualism in
Canada to be valued and to carry with it some rewards," she said.

(c) The Calgary Herald 2008

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