Official bilingualism in Canada

Official Bilingualism In Canada

Official bilingualism in Canada

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The official languages of Canada are English and French, which "have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada" according to Canada's constitution. (See Section Sixteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.) Official bilingualism is the term used in Canada to collectively describe the policies, constitutional provisions, and laws which give English and French a special legal status over other languages in Canada’s courts, Parliament and other federal institutions.

Official bilingualism should not be confused with personal bilingualism, which is the capacity of a person to speak two languages. This distinction was articulated in the 1967 report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, which stated:

Nonetheless, the promotion of personal bilingualism in English and French is an important objective of official bilingualism in Canada, and is addressed more fully below.

In addition to the symbolic designation of English and French as official languages, official bilingualism is generally understood to include any law or other measure which:
  • mandates that the federal government conduct its business in both official languages and provide government services in both languages;
  • encourages or mandates lower tiers of government (most notably the provinces and territories, but also some municipalities) to conduct......
  • ...

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