The University of Ottawa’s new Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights
A native of Sturgeon Falls, François Larocque is a full professor in the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law – Common Law Section and the new holder of the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights.
He is interested in the philosophy of law, Canadian legal history, civil liability, human rights and international law. His research is conducted mainly in the following two fields:
- Civil liability for serious violations of international human rights
- The language rights of Canada’s French-speaking minority communities
Professor Larocque accepted my invitation to be a guest blogger and provide a description of the new research chair.
I am very grateful to the University of Ottawa for appointing me to the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights, whose objectives are to advance critical thinking on the legal frameworks that protect Canada’s official language minority communities and make a tangible contribution to the development of the legal norms that govern those linguistic arrangements. Though generally concerned with the legal protection of official languages, the research chair will focus primarily on the language rights of Francophone minority communities outside Quebec and the protection of indigenous languages.
The research chair has set itself a research-based mission and an action-based mission. The research chair’s first mission will be to document, analyze and comment on current legal developments in the field of language rights by studying the relevant decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and other Canadian courts, the reports of the various language commissioners, draft legislation and parliamentary studies. This research chair will also look at the secondary literature dealing with official language minority communities in a variety of disciplines, including public law, political science, history and sociology. In particular, the research chair will endeavour to build collaborative relationships with the University of Ottawa’s other Canadian Francophonie research chairs and with other Canadian research centres working in this field, such as the International Observatory on Language Rights (University of Moncton) and the National Observatory on Language Rights (University of Montréal).
The research chair’s second mission will be to operationalize its research by taking an active role in developing the constitutional, legislative and jurisprudential norms governing language rights. For example, the research chair will prepare reports on current major language issues and submit them to the Senate and House of Commons committees on official languages. In addition, the research chair will intervene, on a pro bono basis, as an amicus curiae in language rights cases to present courts of justice with innovative legal arguments supported by rigorous interdisciplinary research. These strategic interventions may lead to changes in existing legal frameworks or the creation of new legislative and jurisprudential norms, which will later feed into the research chair’s research under its first mission.
As holder of the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights at the University of Ottawa’s – a university that has obligations under the French Language Services Act – I will naturally take an interest in the situation of Ontario’s Francophone minority communities, the changing composition of those communities, and constitutional requirement in Canadian law to provide those communities with the means to thrive in a multicultural Canada.
I will also study the more recent movement demanding legal status for indigenous languages and the conceptual contributions of Indigenous law to enhancing Canadian understanding of language rights. While the research chair will inevitably turn its gaze on the world and the linguistic systems of certain countries, it will distinguish itself as a forum for research and expertise on language law development in Ontario and Canada. Through an innovative methodological approach that combines legal praxis and research, the research chair will contribute to the advancement of knowledge about the language rights of the official language minority communities, their scope and the instrumentalization of law in building and maintaining identity.
The creation of the Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights clearly illustrates the University of Ottawa’s unwavering commitment to its legislative mission of “further[ing] bilingualism and biculturalism and […] preserv[ing] and develop[ing] French culture in Ontario.” I am proud of my university’s leadership in French Ontario, and I am proud to be able to lead the research chair’s research program as a full professor in the Faculty of Law’s French-language common law program, which, over the past 40 years, has established itself as an incubator of ideas, instruction and research on language rights in Canada.
Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights
Faculty of Law – Common Law Section
University of Ottawa