The Official Opposition is expressing their disappointment and frustration with the Higgs Government’s management of the Review of the Official Languages Act, as well as their subsequent response.
“After waiting almost a year for the response to the review of the Official Languages Act, this is what we get? A vague announcement that the Premier is abdicating his responsibilities to a secretariat and the members of the Legislative Administration Committee. This provides further evidence of his complete lack of understanding of language rights in New Brunswick,” says Benoît Bourque, Official Opposition critic for Official Languages. “Today he did not respect the Official Languages Act by not responding to the recommendations of the Report on the review. Instead, the Premier chose to announce a secretariat that will take on many of the responsibilities and duties of the Office of the Commissioner of Official languages, which could potentially chip away at the legislative independence of the role. This is a further centralization of power to the Premier’s Office.”
“The review of Official Languages Act by the current government has been flawed from the beginning. It was held behind closed doors, without meaningful opportunities for Members of the Legislative Assembly to participate, and without the benefit of media scrutiny to ensure objective discussion of the issues. In addition, including a review of French language instruction to the mandate of the Commissioners reveals the current government’s ignorance of the Act, and lack of respect for language rights in New Brunswick” says Benoît Bourque.
Liberal Leader Susan Holt is expressing her concern about the tensions the Higgs Government is creating among the province’s two official linguistic communities. “The way the Higgs Government has handled this review from the start has created confusion around what the Official Languages Act means for New Brunswickers and has exacerbated fears in the linguistic communities. This is not the type of leadership New Brunswick needs right now. We need to be building bridges and bringing people together with our shared future in mind”.