A legal opinion on international law, language and the future of French-speaking Canada

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A Legal Opinion on International Law, Language and the Future of French Speaking Canada
New York, June 15, 1993, 24 p.

This memorandum was prepared by Ramsey Clark for the Mouvement Québec français, at the time lead by Guy Bouthillier.

Ramsey Clark, 1968

This memorandum will address two questions :

1. Whether Chapter VII, Section 58 of the Quebec Charter of the French Language which generally requires public signs and posters and commercial advertising which are out of doors or intended to be seen by persons who are out of doors and under certain circumstances when located inside business establishments be only in French violates international law, or infringes on fundamental human rights;

2. Whether Chapter VIII, Sections 72-86, of the Quebec Charter of the French Language requiring that instruction in kindergarten and elementary and secondary school classes be in French, but excepting on request a child whose mother or father was instructed primarily in English in Quebec, or in English elsewhere and was domiciled in Quebec on 26 August 1977, violates international law, or infringes on fundamental human rights.

On casual consideration the questions might seem to address arbitrary, narrow and peculiar restrictions on the use of languages. In fact they deal with fundamental elements of culture and values having a powerful influence on the nature and character of a society. For they are concerned with the language of learning and its culture and the role of foreign language and economic power in the domestic lives of a people. Language as the most pervasive and comprehensive carrier of culture is a key determinant in the individual’s understanding of self, the world and human values. Though inadequately articulated in the international corpus juris it is among the most fundamental of all human rights.

A. The Nature and Role of Language in Culture and Human Life.

In the book of Genesis we read that the whole earth was of one language until the tower of Babel was destroyed when that one language confounded and the people then unable to understand one another’s speech were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth. Over the millennia thousands of languages, many with multiple dialects emerged, evolved, fragmented, died, merged and expanded. Within each language aspects of events experienced by its speakers and the more common aspirations, dominant character and group values adhered in words and phrases of special meaning and were transmitted in an expanding culture reflecting a shared and changing experience of thousands and millions of individuals over generations and centuries.

At the beginning of the first century A.D., Christian gospel gave one answer to the longing of many through all the ages for a single language of perfect communication. As the disciples of Christ prepared to journey throughout the world to carry their message, the Book of Acts reports there was a sound from heaven of a mighty rushing wind and the disciples began to speak with other tongues. The multitudes were confounded because everyone heard the message in his own language. To speak the language of others is the opposite of the historic practices of military conquest, colonial dominion, economic intervention and exploitation, not to mention tourism of Americans and others, which have imposed their language where they could and used their own where they could not.

At mid twentieth century, Toynbee found evidence of 26 civilizations of which 16 were dead, two were in their last agonies and seven under threat of annihilation or assimilation. Within those civilizations and the surviving dominant civilization were thousands of silenced languages which reflect more comprehensively the nature and values of all the people who spoke them than all other remnants of their existence. Those languages as the principal component and fabric of the culture they expressed are the clearest key to the quality of their lives. Toynbee observed, "...language which wins... over its rivals usually owes its success to the social advantage of having served... as a tool of some community that has been potent either in war or in commerce."

At the end of twentieth century, scholars estimate that there are between 2500 and 4000 languages excluding dialects in current use on the Earth. From this, particularly in light of expanding electronic communication, the ease and speed of travel and global interdependence, one might assume the vast majority are soon to be extinct despite widespread efforts to save them, including the development of written forms for many languages that have none, using phonetic transcriptions into the alphabets and symbols of existing written languages. It is not sentimental to observe the unique and precious quality of those languages and remember that they reflect the cumulative human experience of many individual lives. Consider only Haitian Creole, generally considered a separate language now. Does it not contain much of an incredible human experience of a beautiful people: kidnapping, crossing an unknown sea in chains, contact with a dying Indian population, slavery, rebellion, Toussaint L'Overture, violence, corruption, the spoilage of a paradise, racial mixture, French language transformation, sadness, poverty, hunger, flight, music, art, marines, education, Duvalier, Catholicism, animism, voodoo, environmental degradation human dignity, Aristide, an indomitable spirit? Should that language be sacrificed to agribusiness, tourism or cultural intervention of an incomparably more powerful police, or economy? With the thrill of deciphering a Rosetta Stone, or breaking the Maya code we also enrich our lives. But how much more we would know about the past, life and ourselves if those languages, their knowledge, wisdom and values had survived.

Andre Malraux in The Voices of Silence wrote "Every culture aspires to perpetuate, enrich and transform... [its] ideal concept of man..." Taken together these cultures are "the heritage of the quality of the world." On the decline and fall of cultures Malraux observed "When we survey the charnel-house of dead values, we realize that values live and die in conjunction with the vicissitudes of man... our culture is not built up of earlier cultures reconciled with each other, but of irreconcilable fragments of the past... Each hero, saint or sage stands for a victory over the human situation. All the same the Buddhist saints could no more resemble St. Peter and St. Augustine than Socrates resembled Ghandi... When we welcome amongst us all these antagonistic elements, is it not obvious that our eclecticism, defying history, merges them in a past whose conception is other than the real past, and acts as a defense of our own culture?" Thus the distinct values of the demised culture are largely lost and only aspects of it are transformed to reinforce a surviving culture and its values.

The struggle for the preservation of a culture and language is for the survival in human consciousness and life of the contributions of all those who lived within the culture and used its language.

Tyranny over language is essential to control and dominate a conquered people with a different tongue. It is the essential element in culturcide. Culturcide is the only means of completely dominating another people. Empires spread their language as a weapon of domination. The struggle to control language is found throughout the history of war, conquest, intervention and economic exploitation. The different means of suppressing another language can be seen in every epoch. To speak or write a forbidden language has often been punishable by law. As random examples, Turkey has prohibited the use of the ancient Kurdish language to try to dominate and assimilate a minority of 14 million people. Japan compelled the use of its language in occupied Korea and Taiwan in the decades before the end of World War II. The filibusterer William Walker proclaiming himself President of Nicaragua in the mid 1850s made English the official language though few could speak it.

Colonial powers, ancient and modern, have compelled their colonies to use their languages in public affairs, courts, schools and commerce. Major commercial sea faring peoples, Phoenicians, Malaysians and many others, spread their languages by their economic power. It is their power, not their presence, that extends their language. Economic refugees cannot persuade others to use their language. They seek to assimilate. Multinational corporations spread the language of their ownership and management around the world. The terror experienced by millions of refugees, exiles, immigrants, prisoners of war, linguistic minorities and others caught in a foreign language and culture, disadvantaged and unable to communicate or fend for themselves is among the greatest violations of human rights.

Wrestling to identify the essence of freedom and human dignity, George Orwell writing his classic 1984, found tyranny ultimately depended not only on prohibiting all foreign languages, but on creating its own language. Newspeak was made to replace Oldspeak, or standard English.

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees... but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all any diverging from [its] principles should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings..." He has described the power language has to control thought.

Language is uniquely a human characteristic and seemingly both the most important for individual self realization and accomplishment and the most intimate and personal for individual thought, development and understanding. Aristotle noted that man is the only animal "endowed with the gift of speech." Darwin observed "lower animals differ from man solely in his almost infinitely larger power of associating together the most diversified sounds and ideas." Descartes found language, together with thought, "Je pense donc je suis," to be one of two differences "that exists between men and brutes." As a singular and essential attribute of human dignity, language is basic among fundamental rights.

Lavoisier thought "the art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged." While Plato believed "thought is the unuttered conversation of the soul with itself," he could not deny that event that conversation was inextricably intertwined with language. Thus language is an essential element of thought, privacy, opinion, self knowledge, understanding, fulfillment, even conscience. It is among the most elusive, valuable and fundamental of all rights.

B. The Evolution Of Language as a Human Right

Realization of the importance of language as a human right has dawned slowly. We are still told "Whether linguistic rights merit protection in the context of international human rights law is a matter of much debate." The Protection of Language Rights in International Human Rights Law, Virginia Journal of International Law (Vol 32 : 515, 1992) at p. 517. But language rights have been recognized in international law and treaties for generations.

Following World War I, Central, and East European nations were required by treaty to both protect and promote the linguistic rights of minorities. The Permanent Court of International Justice was given jurisdiction to enforce the treaty provisions and in cases such as the Minority Schools in Albania decided in 1935 endeavored to do so. Minority Schools in Albania (Advisory Opinion) 1935 PCLJ (Ser A/B) No. 64.

These treaties which sought to preserve languages and cultures rose from the idealism following World War I which produced Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the League of Nations. They suffered from a lack of practical judgment. Deferential to power they provided no language rights in government matters while imposing impossibly burdensome requirements for schooling of minorities in their many languages that divided ethnic, national and linguistic groups. They went far beyond anything the allied powers dreamed of according minorities in their own midst. While the treaties were largely unenforced and their purpose a failure, it ought to be asked what role the effort to so coerce others, as is seen in the Treaty with Serb-Croat-Slovene State of September 10, 1919, might play in the present tragedy in former Yugoslavia.

The United Nations Charter, incorporating a proposal by France made at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, made language with race, sex and religion as one of four areas to be protected from discrimination in Article 1 (3). The U.N. Charter refers to the protection against discrimination on the basis of language in articles 13 (6), 55(c) and 76 (c).

Since this important advance, language has been recognized regularly in international human rights documents. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 2 guaranteed the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of language. Article 2 (2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 prohibits discrimination based on language.

Among all the international human rights treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights deals most comprehensively with linguistic rights. In Art. 2 (1) it requires State Parties to respect and insure non-discrimination on account of language. In succeeding subsections it requires Parties to take measures to give effect to all the rights provided and remedies fort their violation. Art. 14 importantly guarantees a person charged with crime the right to be informed of the charges in a language he understands and to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court. It is pitiful to watch bewildered Blacks before South African Pass Courts without meaningful translations, or counsel who speak their tongue, sentenced to separation from their families without any ability to understand what is happening, where they are to be sent, or the length or conditions of their sentence. The scene has been repeated in many other nations among other races and in many languages.

Language rights are repeatedly addressed in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Art. 19, while not mentioning linguistic rights deals with the intimately related rights to hold opinions and freedom of expression. Art. 24 (1) concerns discrimination against children including their language rights. Article 26 addresses equality and includes language rights.

While nearly all international law references to language have dealt with negative - thou shalt not - injunctions protecting individuals, Art. 27 importantly, and virtually for the first time in explicit positive command in an international agreement, protects the rights of linguistic minorities to "in community with other members of their group... enjoy their own culture... to use their own language." As with all generalities, ans especially so with new concepts lacking the gloss of history, the inherent uncertainties of application of such language require a long process of interpretation.

That process, more so than with most international law which excepting commercial interests remains vague in its applications and spotty in its enforcement, is in an early stage of development. Looking around the world today one sees an almost endless variety of language predicaments needing address if invaluable, irreplaceable human experience and value systems are to be preserved for the benefit of all.

After the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights failed to address rights of linguistic groups, because of their obscurity, absence from historic dialogue and central relationship to power, the General Assembly requested the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the Commission on Human Rights to make a thorough study of rights required to protect linguistic minorities. The study was intended to assist the United Nations in considering the need for specific protection. From its earliest considerations, linguistic rights of the group, not individual rights were addressed. Individual rights to expression were already extensively treated and the United Nations was concerned with the survival of languages and cultures and conflicts arising in those struggles. It was importantly recognized that protection of such rights was dependent on the desire of the group to exercise its linguistic rights. Without such a desire the protection would be as meaningful as the right to study ancient Greek and Latin in a modern business school.

Because of their complexity, obscurity and the resistance to minority rights, the efforts to define minorities and define the protections law should offer were abandoned at the Fourth Session of the Commission on Human Rights.

After promulgation of the Covenants on Civil and Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966, the Sub-Commission again took up the task of studying protections for linguistic minorities in 1967. This lead to a report in 1979 which remains the most thorough analysis available on international rights to language. Francesco Capotorti, The Study on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, U.N. Doc. E/CN. 4/Sub 2/348/Rev 1 (1979). Among its more obvious conclusions was that survival of cultural and linguistic minorities is dependent on use of its language in education. It noted most countries do not provide education in minority languages assuming cost and fragmentation of the education system as reasons, but largely ignoring political and economic power as the decisive factors. The study doubted that judicial power could be properly exercised to protect linguistic rights because of the absence of their clear and detailed definition in positive international law.

The U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Art. 10 of its Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has sought to protect the "right of children to have access to education in their own language, ... and control their own educational systems..." Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights, August 1988, E/CN. 4/Sub. 2/1988/25. This reveals the growing recognition of the obvious. The rights have been specifically implemented in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement which makes Cree and Inuit the teaching languages in schools there.

Of even greater significance the Draft recognizes that mere tolerance of cultural and linguistic rights of indigenous peoples is not sufficient to protect them from the onslaught of the political, economic and technological power of dominant societies. The Draft would create positive rights and affirmative action for language to assure the survival of the indigenous peoples.

The protection of cultural rights which is a major commitment of international law includes necessarily the protection of linguistic rights. Activities over recent decades by UNESCO and the ILO, the 1960 Convention Against Discrimination in Education, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the declarations of International Cultural Cooperation (1966), the Guiding Principles on the Use of Satellite Broadcasting (1972) and Race and Racial Prejudice (1978) all reflect expanding awareness of the essential role of language in human rights. Non governmental efforts have significantly extended both understanding and commitment to action on linguistic rights. The Association for the Development of Cross Cultural Communication in 1987 issued a "Call for a Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights." It drafted a document, The Declaration of Recife, where the conference which produced it was held at the law school of the University of Pernambuco, urging the United Nations to adopt and implement a new reformulated declaration of language rights to eliminate linguistic prejudice, discrimination, domination, injustice and oppression, among its ambitious goals.

Regional Human Rights Conventions have recognized at least negative linguistic rights, including the American Convention on Human Rights. The European Convention is the most advanced both in terms of the legal rights created and their enforcement in the European Court. In 1968 in the Belgian Linguistic Case, the Court unanimously denied claims of Francophone groups living in predominantly Flemish areas complaining their children were offered only Dutch language education at their local schools, but by a vote 8 to 7 found a discriminatory denial of access to existing French language schools in one of the six questions presented the Court. European Court of Human Rights, Sec. A, Vol. 6, Case Relating to Certain Aspects of the Laws on the Use of Languages in Education in Belgium. (Judgment of 23 July 1968).

In 1989 the European Court held that a requirement that a foreign lecturer of painting at the College of Marketing and Design in Dublin where instruction was in English and only a minor fraction of the population was fluent in Irish could be required to pass a special examination in the Irish language as a qualification to teach. The Court noted the interest of successive Irish governments in promoting the use of Irish to express national identity and culture, the provision in the Irish Constitution making Irish the first official language with English the second official language and the special role lecturers perform in education and culture. Common Market Law Review 27 :129-139 (1990) Case 379/87, Groener v. Minister of Education and the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, (Judgment of 28 November 1989). The emphasis the Court placed on the constitutional designation of an official language is a deference to State power concerning languages.

Approximately a third of all national constitutions provide some recognition of the rights of linguistic minorities. Many have comprehensive laws dealing with teaching languages as education and other concerns of such minorities. These provisions reveal the recognition at the national level of the need to respect and address this important human concern.

As tensions regarding minority rights grew worldwide, the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities by its Resolution 36 of 1988 authorized preparation of a working paper on ways and means to facilitate the peaceful and constructive resolution of problems of racial, national, religious and linguistic minorities. The following year the Commission on Human Rights by its resolution 61 established a continuing Working Group to draft a declaration of rights of national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. The Working Group adopted a Draft Declaration in 1990 and the Commission requested the Secretary-General to invite comments on the proposed text. Many critical comments were received and considered throughout 1991 including the absence of a definition of minority, failure to adequately delineate specific rights including use of the mother tongue freely in public and private, and failure to provide affirmative support for instruction in the native language. The Unites States argued that the right to use a historical language was too broadly defined particularly for countries with numerous linguistic minorities. The concern for the tension between individual rights to free speech and group rights to cultural and linguistic preservation remained largely unaddressed reflecting the special interests of participants and the general absence of historic international experience in resolving the tension between rights to speech and rights to language, as when an individual desires to speak English and the community wants to preserve French.

Free speech has a long legacy of inspired advocacy. Milton and Voltaire proclaimed its central role in individual freedom and the life of the mind. In the great volumes of classic free speech literature in the United States, Meiklejohn, Chafee, Emerson, homage is paid on every page to the heroes of uninhibited expression while language cannot be found in their indexes. Thousands of cases in courts define the meaning of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting the abridgment of freedom of speech or of the press. Dialogue on linguistics rights is hard to find.

While the work of the U.N. proceeds, international law has yet to address in a comprehensive and coherent way the fundamental human rights in language. The core concern of the quest for international protection of linguistic rights is the felt need to preserve and cherish endangered cultures and the recognition of the conflicts that arise from the power struggles that threaten them.

Urgency of the need for solutions to worldwide problems of language rights has never been greater and still the principles of law addressing the issues are rudimentary. Concepts of autonomy, sovereignty and self determination arise largely from cultural and language identities. Militarism, separatism and domination are ever present as a means of assaulting and protecting culture and language. Politics, law and human rights must offer a better solution. Consider Tanzania, probably the least homogeneous nation ethnically in the world with over 130 groups, each with distinct physical, social, cultural and linguistic characteristics and more than 100 spoken African languages with Swahili the lingua franca. What is to become of its people if means for living together with respect for diversity and equality in cultural and linguistic rights cannot be developed? Look at the fragmentation of the USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Cambodia where French was the sole language of teaching and administration until 1975 and other former nations. How can peace, economic development, or human dignity prevail without respect and urgent action to protect the rights of diversity?

Remember Puerto Rico which, though dominated by the United States for nearly a century, saturated with its culture and products, taught in its English language schools for generations, has defied foreign political, economic and cultural intervention and revived its cultural heritage, its Spanish language and its own rich literature, art and music. Among the reasons for this success must be the vitality of its people, its remote island location, its affirmative legislation to protect the Spanish language and its intense psychological commitment shared throughout Latin America to its own identity in the shadow of its giant northern neighbor.

Consider little Estonia with its rich cultural language and high level of development confronting a 40% Russian-speaking population within its borders and bordering Russia herself which has dominated the whole society for the past nearly half century. Most people cannot abandon their language, because they lack the capacity to change. But what worthy people capable of choice will abandon their heritage, their history, their language and their culture?

The emotion stimulated by cultural and linguistic conflict must not obscure the obvious and essential need in our time for every people and most individuals to develop and maintain the capacity for sophisticated communication with neighbors and the world community. The divisions which the natural centrifugal force pulling at languages over time and distance create must be bridged by full meaningful communication without deterring language rights. Peace and economic cooperation are not possible without clear communication. Enrichment by the experience of other cultures is limited without common language skills. While individual character will be stronger and life richer from a healthy native culture, fuller understanding and the hope to live lovingly together will depend on reasoning together with all. An adequate common language in addition to sophisticated native language is essential for that purpose.

The need is for tolerant, compassionate commitment to resolve differences, to preserve and enrich cultural heritages, to respect the rights of others, to communicate sensitively with all languages, cultures, races and creeds and to devise structures for political and economic community that assure peace, social justice and human rights.


It follows from this discussion that the Quebec Charter of the French language is an effort by government to protect and revitalize the French language and culture in Quebec and by the example of Quebec throughout Canada from the erosion of its long history as part of an overwhelmingly English-speaking region from colonial times to its present estate. As a part of Canada it has experienced direct English government influence over its culture and language in myriad ways for many generations and the presence in Quebec of an often privileged English-speaking minority with its substantial commercial, business, educational social and religious institutions. As a neighbor or the United States it has long experienced the overwhelmingly powerful forces of the U.S. economy, its corporate and business presence, its investments and tourists, its books, magazines, movies and music, and its radio and T.V. directly transmitted into Quebec. This is an experience shared with all Canadians, but compounded for French-speaking Canada. Those in Canada who speak French perceive with substantial objective evidentiary support the waning and dilution of their culture, language and values which they wish to preserve.

I. Article 58 of the Charter of the French Language is Protected by International Law as Supportive of Fundamental Human Rights

Economic intervention as history shows is deadlier to a domestic culture and language than foreign military or local police state suppression of language rights. Direct oppression creates resistance. It is difficult to police whispers and impossible so far to control thoughts. A people are driven, however miserable the experience, to their own resources, their culture, their language, and unity in the face of force. Economic intervention can buy out a culture. Profits will attract event the patriot. Young people will flock to a materialistic opportunity glorified on television. Aesthetics aside, and the sensitivity of the people who live there, foreign language advertising can help drive a domestic language and its culture off the streets and out of favor and has done so in areas around the world. It can change the outer appearance of a society to that of a foreign commercial strip. Cultural and linguistic integrity involve authenticity in appearance as well as fact. To equate the right to advertise with the right to preserve a culture is to equate money with character. It is comparable to permitting unlimited political campaign contributions in the name of free speech which values money over democracy. It is a mistake the law must not make.

To the extent that outdoor advertising is speech it is little more than a symbol or an identification in attractive design and setting. A trademark carries the message for a well known brand. The intent is rarely more than to identify a product, remind a consumer, suggest quality or newness. Language is an insignificant part of the content and it usually can be as readily expressed in any language.

The Charter excepts messages of a religious, political, ideological, or humanitarian nature when not for profit. It does not affect oral communication in any language. It does not affect advertising in news media that publish in a language other than French. It permits business firms with fewer than fifty employees that do not share a name with other businesses to use signs, posters and commercial advertising in foreign languages inside their establishments. To provide for unforeseen burdens, the government is authorized to permit public signs, posters and commercial advertising to be in both French and another language, or solely in another language by regulation. The burden of the law on non French speaking businesses and the non French speaking public is minimal.

The threat to the French language in Canada is omnipresent and a whole culture is at risk. Under any circumstances an advertiser can communicate its product equally with all others in French. The state has and ought to have the power under international law to compel this restriction on outdoor and commercial advertising under regulation not broader than is reasonably necessary to protect a threatened language and culture.

Suggestion that the purpose of preservation can be accomplished by permitting foreign language advertising if French as well is predominantly used evades the real issue and absurdly expands outdoor advertising messages by doubling the words on a sign. Psychologically it may be a sharper reminder to those who speak an embattled language that foreign economic intervention threatens its future where two languages are used. Certainly it does not provide a vista that is resonant with a dominant culture.

II. Chapter VIII of the Charter of the French Language is Protected by International Law, as Supportive of Fundamental Human Rights

More than even the language at home, the language in which children are taught in school will determine the language they use in their adult life. The former may be used in later years when visiting parents, but the latter will probably be used in adult family, social and economic life. The teaching language is the strongest single preservative and promoter of a language and its culture because it is the language in which the child is prepared to emerge into full adult participation in the larger society. Throughout history cultures have sought to educate their children in their own language, and often at great sacrifice. As an affirmative effort to preserve and invigorate an embattled language, the language of teaching is the single most important tool.

Hugo Grotius in his early major work The Law of War and Peace wrote it is "this care to preserve society that is the source of all law." Central to the preservation of society is the protection of the culture on which it is based. This care to preserve the French-speaking society in Canada is the source of the Charter of the French language.

As it ought to be, the law on the language of instruction is respectful of English and other languages. For English it provides for the continuation of English language teaching in public schools for the children of parents who request it if one of them received the major part of his or her elementary instruction in English in Quebec. The provision is extended to parents resident in Quebec before 20 August 1977 who received such English instruction outside Quebec, so that only English language immigrants after 1977 are not provided English language instruction for their children. The law provides an exception for children with serious learning disabilities, empowers the Minister of Education to exempt children of persons temporarily in Quebec and contemplates flexible regulations to meet unforeseen needs.

The Charter contains these affirmative action programs to resist commercial and linguistic intrusion destructive of French Canadian culture and language. They are not inherently nationalistic or separatist. They are intended to protect the fundamental human right to culture and language. Sensitively administered, they will enrich the rights of all by enabling every language and culture to communicate with and share in their rich heritage.

Ramsey Clark

June 14, 1993
New York, New York