January 15, 2021
Coon says Official Languages Act Review should be Conducted by Legislators
Commissioners Should Investigate Second Language Training
FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that a public review of the Official Languages Act should be conducted by a committee of the Legislature, not by commissioners appointed by the Premier.
“MLAs are the lawmakers in this Province, and it should be MLAs who recommend to the Legislative Assembly how the Official Languages Act can be improved to advance the equality of New Brunswick’s two official languages and two official language communities,” said Coon. “My colleague Kevin Arseneau proposed that a Standing Committee on Official Languages be created 18 months ago, and its first task should be to conduct this review, but this fell on deaf ears.”
Kent North Green MLA Kevin Arseneau said it is objectionable that the Premier decided on the process to review a law enacted by the Legislative Assembly without consulting members of the Legislative Assembly. “It is his responsibility to initiate the review, but it is the Legislature that makes the laws, not the Premier,” said Arseneau. “The advantage of the Standing Committee is it would have a life beyond the review so that we continue to strive for equality, not just every 10 years.”
Coon said it is inappropriate for the Premier to provide the Commissioners with a second mandate to recommend improvements to second language training. “There is a pressing need to improve second language training in our education systems, but this deserves its own Commission. The Premier should give this task to his appointed commissioners and turn the review of the Official Languages Act over to a Committee of the Legislature as the Green caucus has proposed. We have yet to achieve equality between our two official linguistic communities, so that work must not be diluted by an additional mandate,” said Coon.
The Premier is required to ensure a review of Official Languages is completed by December 31, 2021 to recommend changes that will foster progress towards achieving equality of New Brunswick’s two official languages and two official language communities.