At Home: Official languages commissioner accuses Harper of stepping on the Official Languages Act
In September of last year, the Harper government decided to cut the Court Challenges Program. In a report released May 15 by the official languages commissioner, Graham Fraser, this was cited as a blatant disregard of the Official Languages Act (OLA) passed in 1988. The OLA was created to establish English and French as the official languages of Canada; further to this primary aim, the Act recognized the rights of minority groups to receive help in terms of communication within the federal and local government systems.
Specifically, the Court Challenges Program provided funding to non-English and non-French speakers in Canada to bring legal suits to court against government policies. Without this funding, minority language groups will struggle to work within the court system and defend their rights. Fraser is concerned that this is a step in the wrong direction for a country that claims to protect minority culture and language.
In particular, there are various aboriginal-language groups spread across the country that have battled for their right to be officially represented along with French and English speakers for years. Despite their existence in North America before European settlers, Aboriginal Canadians have fought for cultural preservation and to have their languages officially recognized. To have the Harper government cut the Court Challenges Program is a stiff slap in the face to campaigners of minority language rights in this country.
I guess the real question is, is it any surprise that the Conservative government doesn’t feel obligated to think about non-anglophone Canada?
An annotated version of the Official Languages Act is available at http://www.ocol-clo.gc.ca/archives/op_ap/act_loi/ola_llo_annot/ola_llo_annot_e.htm
In Foreign News: Hillary Clinton has officially made her bid for the U.S. presidency and Bill is backing her all the way
Fox News announced (1) in January that Senator Hillary Clinton was entering the race for the U.S. presidency. It’s been a long time coming and over the past months the American (and worldwide) public has wondered how large a role Bill Clinton will play in her campaign. Although he’s been relatively silent on the issue so far, the magic of YouTube has brought forth his own personal promotional message (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9U0ZNteqdw) for his Democratic wife.
The Guardian (2) notes the decision of Hillary to include Bill in her campaign as a move away from the failure of the last Clinton-administration official to deny such help and then lose a presidential campaign: Al Gore. In the years following his impeachment trial, Bill Clinton has kept away from the political limelight, presumably because the controversy over his personal life would overshadow his two-term tenure as leader of his country. Apparently, Hillary has decided that 10 years is a sufficient amount of time for the stigma of the Clinton Oval Office to subside and for her husband to show his face as the most recent successful Democratic presidential candidate.
Aside from Bill’s backing, Hillary boasts the hopes of an entire population of Democratic women as she continues to move ahead in the race for Democratic candidate. It will be an interesting party election in terms of minority votes, though, since Hillary is up against two other candidates representing the black and Hispanic American populations. It looks like the Democrats are tired of playing Republican campaign games and are moving back into their own territory.
We all remember the last U.S. election; despite the will of most of the world for the Democrats to beat out a second term for George W. Bush, the party simply seemed to have a watery platform based largely on not being Republicans. Bringing in the minority candidates seems to be the most Democratic thing the Democrats have done in a long time. The party hopes that the return of both Clintons to the political scene will mark a return to popularity.
(1) Fox News, 2007. ?Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Announces White House Bid.? January 21, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2007, from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245160,00.html
(2) The Guardian, 2007. ?Bill Backs Hillary with YouTube Tribute.? Retrieved May 23, 2007, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/uselections08/story/0,,2080223,00.html#article_continue