OTTAWA -- Federal Minister Mélanie Joly has unveiled her expert panel to examine new language rights and obligations for federally-owned private companies.

Official Languages Minister Joly promised to appoint the members of her committee as soon as possible after tabling her reform proposal for the Official Languages Act two weeks ago.

The Canadian Press was able to consult a draft of that 30-page document, entitled "French and English: towards real equality of official languages in Canada."

The proposal includes reforms in areas ranging from immigration to the selection of Supreme Court judges. It would also grant the commissioner of official languages new powers.

"My goal is to table a bill during 2021. The more the reform is welcomed, the faster we can go," she said.

The expert panel is made up of six members: three professors and three lawyers.

Half of them come from Quebec, including one from the English-speaking minority community, and the other three members come from provinces outside Quebec where there are large francophone populations.

The members are:

  • Professor Linda Cardinal, Research Chair in Francophonie and Public Policy at the University of Ottawa
  • Lawyer Frédéric Bérard, co-director of the National Observatory on Language Rights
  • Donald Savoie, Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance at the University of Moncton
  • Lawyer Pierre-André Blanchard of Teamsters Quebec
  • Professor Ibrahima Diallo of the University of St. Boniface
  • Lawyer Janice Naywark, also a former member of a committee of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

The committee will be tasked to define criteria for French-speaking regions outside Quebec that will be subject to new labour obligations, among other things.

The committee's first meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 8. On May 7, 60 days later, the committee will produce its own recommendations.  

-- This report from the Canadian Press was first published on March 5, 2021.