The challenges of linguistic duality for francophone Canada: contact, conflict and continuity | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 9, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1368-2679
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9142


This article analyses the principle and practice of linguistic duality in Canada, a country where official bilingualism has been rooted in federal policy on language issues since Confederation (1867). A recent example of a major federal initiative is the (2003), which has set as one of its objectives the doubling of bilingual high-school graduates. Historically, conflict has characterized the relationship between the federal government and the provincial government of Quebec, which has pursued a diametrically opposed policy of official monolingualism, culminating in the enactment of the (Bill 101) in 1977. Several of the provisions of Bill 101 have been challenged in the Supreme Court, in the context of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), notably in the area of minority education rights (e.g. Casimir case, 2005). Analysis of the 2001 census data is used to discuss the demolinguistic reality of French, leading to the conclusion that it is under threat in all provinces and territories except Quebec. The issues of language contact are also challenging for Quebec; though it is the only province with a francophone majority, it is also the province with the highest rate of bilingualism. Important research projects on the long-term continuity and vitality of francophone minority communities are ongoing.


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