[lg policy] Canada: Brad Woodside sidesteps language battle
hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 29 15:12:41 UTC 2011
Brad Woodside sidesteps language battle
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 6:56 AM AT
Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside says he’s trying to avoid being
dragged into a battle over language rights in the city after a
councillor questioned the need for ongoing translation costs during
council meetings. Coun. Marilyn Kerton suggested on Monday the city
get rid of interpreters for city council meetings. Woodside said the
city has been working since last spring on a comprehensive review of
it bilingualism policy.
And the mayor said he'd rather wait for that document to be ready
before commenting on the need for interpreters at its regular council
meetings. "I do know it's $1,200 per meeting, yes. And I know that
translation of press releases and information that we put out is
provincially legislated and mandated, so whether we like or whether we
don't is not an issue,” Woodside said.
“The government has told us this is what you have to do. The question
is exactly how far do we go, what are our responsibilities and
obligations? And that's what we're looking at right now."
Woodside said the city has consulted with Michel Carrier, the
province's official languages commissioner, and others in the
development of its new policy.
The Fredericton mayor said he'd like to see both anglophone and
francophone communities have the very same rules for language of
service at council meetings.
When Kerton raised the questions over paying for interpretation costs,
she said since 2003, the city has had two translators standing by at
every meeting in case someone wanted to address council in French.
Kerton said that's happened only once so she feels it doesn't make
sense to spend more than $30,000 a year on a service no one is using.
The New Brunswick government updated the Official Languages Act in
2002 after the Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Moncton property
owner Mario Charlebois. The ruling dealt with whether Moncton should
translate its bylaws.
That court decision forced the provincial government to change the
province’s language law.
New Brunswick’s eight cities and other communities, that hit a
specific threshold in terms of minority language communities, have
certain obligations under the act.
New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act outlines what services a city
must perform in both languages, such as providing bylaws and minutes
of meetings in both English and French.
Saint John's city council cut its live translation service this year.
People there can still get a translator if they book a week ahead.
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