Justice and Official Languages in Canada
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This is a study of the politics of language in Canada from the perspective of francophone minority communities – the close to one million French-speakers living in provinces and territories outside Québec. The analysis proceeds in two main parts. The first part examines and engages with the literature in political theory on the respect and recognition of ethnocultural minorities in liberal democracies. It reconstructs Will Kymlicka’s approach to normative theorizing on ethnocultural justice and defends it against recent important works emphasizing the deliberative resolution of issues of ethnocultural diversity. It shows how the Kymlickan approach to multiculturalism and minority rights requires uncovering and articulating the normative logic that underpins both group claims and state measures. The second part of the thesis carries out the Kymlickan approach with respect to the status and treatment of francophone minorities outside Québec. It begins by showing how Kymlicka and his main critics have failed to fully apply, as it were, the Kymlickan approach to the status and treatment of Canada’s Francophone minority communities. It then analyzes these communities’ political claims for justice and equality as well as the rights and accommodations put in place by the state in an effort to come to terms with their claims. It finds that the failure of the federal language regime to respond adequately to their claims for a combination of participation and autonomy lies with its given administrative application of legislative commitments not within commitments themselves. In summary, weaving the political theory of multiculturalism together with l’étude des minorités francophones hors Québec, this thesis incorporates Canada’s Francophone minority communities into a scholarship that has ignored or rendered them invisible and it also shows how the federal government could go about ensuring their just recognition and equal treatment.