On what grounds should language rights be accorded in Canada, and to whom? This is the central question that is addressed in C. Michael MacMillan's bookThe Practice of Language Rights in Canada. The issue of language rights in Canada is one that is highly debated and discussed, partly because the basic underlying principles have been a neglected dimension in the debate.
MacMillan examines the normative basis of language rights in Canadian public policy and public opinion. He argues that language rights policy should be founded upon the theoretical literature of human rights. Drawing on the philosophy behind human rights, the arguments for recognizing a right to language are considered, as well as the matter of whether such rights possess the essential features of established rights. Another model that is examined is the idea that rights are a reflection of the established values, attitudes, and practices of society. This analysis reveals that there is a significant gap between what a political theory of language rights would endorse and what garners support in public opinion. MacMillan also scrutinizes the federal and provincial contexts in the development of a language rights framework.
From these explorations, a case is developed for a recognition of language rights that is consistent with the logic of human rights and that corresponds roughly with developing Canadian practice.The Practice of Language Rights in Canadais a unique contribution to the current literature not only because it conceives of language rights as a human right but also because it frames the whole debate about language rights in Canada as a question of values and entitlements.
Subjects: Political Science
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