La reconnaissance implicite des droits linguistiques des francophones et la fondation du bilinguisme institutionnel : l’Acte de Québec de 1774

Par Nathan Joyal, étudiant collaborateur


Research into the origins of language rights in Canada generally does not date back further than their explicit protection within section 133 of the British North America Act of 1867. Other documents, such as the Charter and the Official Languages Act, along with Supreme Court rulings such as Beaulac, have cemented language rights as being positive constitutional rights. However, little research has been conducted pertaining to their origins. This research purports to demonstrate that prior to 1867, language rights were a part of Canadian society, after having been implicitly granted by the English government through the Quebec Act of 1774. Despite initial assimilationist efforts, such as the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the English Governors were faced with an unavoidable reality: in order to establish a functional and flourishing society, they needed the French-Canadians. 


Through pragmatic measures adopted by Governors Murray and Carleton, much to the disdain and ignorance of the English government back in Britain, the intention of the legislature to establish Quebec as a purely English colony, quickly withered. This resulted in the granting of French civil law, and the practice of the Roman Catholic religion, as well as the implicit recognition of French language rights, and the foundation of a bilingual Canadian legal and political system. 

This content has been updated on 22 April 2017 at 19 h 08 min.