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"Canada is now in the greatest crisis of its history," reported the Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In 1963, the commission known as B&B began touring the country, asking Canadians if it was important to speak both French and English. Many francophones who felt they were losing their language saw separatism as their only recourse. The co-chairs of the commission would have a big duty: to figure out how to give Canada bilingualism and to prevent its two solitudes from splitting apart.

"Quelles sont vos impressions au sujet du rapport de la commission Laurendeau-Dunton?" A charming CBC reporter poses this question in French to Torontonians in 1967. He's asking them what their opinions are on the bilingualism inquiry that released its final report last week. Most people don't understand the question. Finally the reporter finds an anglophone who speaks French. Unfortunately, she's never heard of the commission.
. When the commission began, it promised to look into possible constitutional amendments for bilingualism. In the end, the final report did not address this concern because of time constraints.
. The commission's work was reaffirmed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau when he introduced the Official Languages Bill in 1968.
. The bill included the commission's recommendation that French and English become the official languages of the federal government.

. Under the bill, all federal institutions would be required to provide bilingual services depending on the patron's preference.
. The Official Languages Act passed a year later.
. Trudeau did not agree with the commission's recommendation for regional language protection. He believed bilingualism was a federal concern and that provincial governments could decide themselves whether they wanted to become bilingual.

. In 1982 Trudeau also introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 23 guarantees bilingual schooling across the country.
. In 1977, Quebec enacted Bill 101. Under it, French became the language of government, work, business and communications. It also states that the prevailing language on the province's merchandise must be in French, and that French schooling be compulsory for immigrants to the province.

. The Parti Québécois pushed for Bill 101 after being elected to power in 1976.
. Quebec's earliest language law is called the Lavergne Law, passed in 1910. The law said all tickets for trains and buses had to be bilingual.
Medium: Television
Program: The Way It Is
Broadcast Date: Dec. 10, 1967
Duration: 2:06

Last updated: February 9, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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