Canadian Bilingual Districts

Canadian Bilingual Districts: From Cornerstone to Tombstone

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Canadian Bilingual Districts
    Book Description:

    In the first systematic study of the subject, Daniel Bourgeois traces the complex path that led to the demise of the plan in 1976, following pressure from the Treasury Board Secretariat. Canadian Bilingual Districts also considers the Royal Commission's approach in the context of contemporary developments. Bourgeois argues for the reconsideration of this discarded "cornerstone" of federal language policy, providing a nuanced analysis of social identity, sociolinguistic policies, nationalism, and minority rights and services.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7592-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table and Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Donald J. Savoie

    This is an important book for several reasons. First, author Daniel Bourgeois brings back to life an important period in Canadian history. In doing so, he sheds new light on how Ottawa sought to deal with the national unity crisis of the 1960s and 1970s. He documents that this would be done by creating a new perception of Canada, one that established in policy the fact that nearly one million francophones live outside Quebec. The book is also important because it examines how major policy shifts are conceived and generated. It reviews the work of a royal commission, examines its...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    In the 1960s, “Canada, without being fully conscious of the fact, [was] passing through the greatest crisis in its history,” a crisis that, according to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (B and B Commission), “could destroy” the country (RCBB 1965, 13). A growing number of Québécois sought secession from the rest of Canada because “the principal institutions in the country are frustrating their desire to live their lives fully as French Canadians” – a situation “they could no longer allow ... to continue” (109; emphasis in original).

    To resolve the crisis, the commission recommended 150 measures, of which the...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Policy Formulation
    (pp. 15-43)

    To resolve Canada’s sociolinguistic crisis, the federal Cabinet established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism on 19 July 1963.¹ The idea of a royal commission came from the pen ofLe Devoir’s editorialist André Laurendeau,² who became the commission’s co-chair and spiritual leader. Nine other prominent Canadians were appointed to the B and B Commission.

    The commission’s broad mandate was “to inquire into and report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Policy Adoption
    (pp. 44-72)

    This chapter places the bilingual districts in their statutory, constitutional, and administrative contexts. Although distinct, these contexts interwove constantly between 1968 and 1969. The chapter contains four sections. The first presents the federal government’s administrative districtification efforts between 1938 and 1967. The second describes how the B and B Commission recommendations were translated into the 1969 Official Languages Act. The third overviews the 1968–69 federal-provincial constitutional negotiations. The final section presents the legislative process that modified, then adopted, the Official Languages Act in 1969.

    Section 133 of the BNA Act states that French and English are the official languages...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Policy Specification: The First Effort
    (pp. 73-112)

    After the Official Languages Act came into effect, the federal Cabinet asked ten Canadians to specify the number, size, and location of the country’s initial bilingual districts. The first Bilingual Districts Advisory Board, chaired by Roger Duhamel, performed its work in twelve months. Its report was studied by a committee of civil servants, a Cabinet committee, then Cabinet itself, before it was put aside to accommodate a second advisory board and the more recent (1971) census data. The second board, chaired by Paul Fox, toiled for almost three years. Its report was also studied by a committee of civil servants,...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Policy Specification: The Second Effort
    (pp. 113-197)

    The second effort was supposed to take advantage of the first advisory board’s work and the new census data to produce more robust recommendations in a short period. But it took the second board three years to submit a report that in the end would also collect dust in the National Archives.

    The problems encountered and created by the Fox Board between June 1972 and October 1975 are the focus of this chapter’s first main section. The second describes Cabinet’s specification efforts between November 1975 and December 1976.

    On 25 May 1972, Cabinet approved the list of appointments to the...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Policy Termination
    (pp. 198-214)

    Bilingual districts were abandonedde factoby Cabinet on 23 December 1976, but they were only abandonedde jurewhen Parliament adopted the 1988 Official Languages Act. The initial Act needed an overhaul, the government argued, because it did not respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms adopted in 1982. This chapter will describe how the bilingual districts were officially terminated.

    Before bilingual districts were publicly abandoned by Robert Andras on 30 September 1977, the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to official bilingualism in a booklet issued on 21 June 1977 –A National Understanding – The Official Languages of Canada.But...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Policy Analysis
    (pp. 215-258)

    My case study contributes to public policy analysis and public administration in three ways. First, it presents the most comprehensive explanation of the bilingual districts’ demise. Second, it offers three conceptual nuances to debates on social identity, sociolinguistic policies, symbolic policies, nationalism, and minority rights and services. And third, it presents four theoretical contributions. This chapter is consequently divided into three parts.

    Bilingual districts were terminated on 23 December 1976 because Cabinet wanted to avoid opposition, especially in Quebec. They had become a negative symbol that could have fuelled the flames of sociolinguistic tensions reignited by the summer’s events. This...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Policy Relevance
    (pp. 259-272)

    Are bilingual districts applicable today in Canada? Raising the question is not as anachronous as it may seem. Recent national events suggest that the concept may be worth a second look.

    First, at a national round table on federal language policy, organized on 20 April 2004 by the Commissioner of Official Languages, the following issues, among others, were discussed: (1) the inadequacy of the “rigid method for determining significant demand for services in either of the official languages and its inability to ensure equitable access to federal government services of equal quality” and the “strict geographical criteria” used to establish...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 273-274)

    Bilingual districts were one of many elements of Canada’s sociolinguistic policy, yet they were to be the cornerstone of that policy because of their symbolic purpose. Symbols matter. The main difference between bilingual districts and the TBS bilingual regions that eventually took their place was the former’s symbolic purpose. The TBS did not fully understand this distinction. The TBS deviation was the main reason why bilingual districts were terminated. Previous explanations were mere strings in the hanging rope. In spite of the bilingual districts’ importance, no one bothered to collect and analyse the empirical data to tie them together.


  15. Notes
    (pp. 275-312)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-320)
  17. Index
    (pp. 321-326)