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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

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French Language Training in British Columbia

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Statement made on 24 March 2011 by Senator Mobina Jaffer

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:

Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate on French training in British Columbia.

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and has to do with teaching Canada's official languages. The B.C. Ministry of Education recently proposed a new curriculum for language teaching in the province that I have the honour of representing here.

Unfortunately, in the draft curriculum, French is no longer presented as one of Canada's official languages, but rather it is included in the "other languages" category.

Dr. Réal Roy, the president of La Fédération des francophones de la Colombie Britannique, stated:

We are very pleased by the solid anchoring of the new IRP in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its aims to develop pluralingualism among B.C.'s elementary and secondary schools students.

In this context, we would like to enthusiastically support, in any way possible, the implementation of a French language curriculum with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Madame Claire Trépanier, the Director of the Office of Francophone and Francophiles Affairs at Simon Fraser University adds:

The introduction of this curriculum places French on an equal footing with other languages, regardless of its stature as an official language in Canada, and gives school districts wide options in choosing which language they can offer.

This could seriously erode the presence of French in the B.C. school system. My question to the leader is:

The federal government has a duty to ensure that children in British Columbia have the right to be educated in their first official language. Would the Leader of the Government agree that the federal government has a role to play in promoting and developing the Francophonie in British Columbia?

Please click here to read the full text of the Senator's question


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