As concerned Canadians, we are writing to express our utter disappointment at the failure of the Government of Canada to protect English-speaking Quebecers from the attacks on their language rights, and Quebec’s egregious move to pre-emptively use the notwithstanding clause to legalize discrimination. Specifically, there has been:
- muted criticism of Quebec’s language laws;
- a failure to support challenges to those laws;
- no decision to refer its clearly unconstitutional sections to the Supreme Court;
- no federal analysis published as to the legality of Bill 96 prior to the Charter’s inclusion in the Official Languages Act;
Lack of action to uphold our Constitution has rendered it irrelevant! And, as we wait for judgment on the many lawsuits filed against Bill 96, Canada stands on the world stage as an embarrassing hypocrite; not even meeting the requirements of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
- “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights (Article One).”
- “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind…Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs…” (Article Two).
Over half a million of Quebec’s English-speaking community have now become second class citizens. Their ineligibility for English public services is a breach of Article One. Quebec’s insistence on providing English services only to those meeting criteria, one of which is based on where an individual went to school, carves out an egregious “distinction”, breaching Article Two.
Canada has been an officially bilingual country for over half a century. There should be no distinction, by law, as to whether a resident anywhere in Canada can or cannot receive public services. One of the greatest principles of constitutional democracies is that the rights of minorities must be protected from the whims of the majority. And it is the duty of our federal representatives to enforce it.
Task Force on Linguistic Policy