About This Site

Welcome to the Compendium of Language Management in Canada (CLMC). This site is intended for a wide audience. Researchers, policy makers in both public and private sectors, and the general public will find here useful information.

The CLMC has a dual origin. First, it is the Site for Language Management in Canada (SLMC), created by Professor Jacques Leclerc for the federal government. This site was transferred to the University of Ottawa in 2011, and some of its sections have been incorporated into the CLMC. Second, it is the website of the Federal Government's Language Rights Support Program (LRSP) leaving a great deal of useful legal information when it was closed in 2016, which was also transferred to the CLMC.

The CLMC is a project of the Language Management Interdisciplinary Research Group. Some of it's members, as well as student assistants, contributed to the content of the site. It responds to the 2011 call by Professor Stacy Churchill and presents the 'Canadian school' of language planning, especially in relation to Canada's two official languages: English and French. We are pleased to invite you to explore each of the sections of the CLMC.

The site was launched in September 2017, and is regularly updated to our best knowledge. We encourage you to make comments and report any errors you may have noticed. Please do not hesitate to contact CLMC Editor Monika Jezak ([email protected]) for any information regarding the site, and the authors of the sections for any information concerning their content.

Last updated: January 2021


The Home page provides an overview of Canada's geopolitical situation: some basic information and notions of the Canadian federation that help to understand Canada through its geographic, legal, administrative and demographic circumstances. You will also find the relevant information about how to use and quote the CLMC.

The section Political and Institutional Foundations of Linguistic Planning in Canada, created by Professor Linda Cardinal, helps to understand the political concepts of linguistic regimes and federalism, while also presenting the elements of Canadian language policy.

The Linguistic History of Canada section was written by Professor Jacques Leclerc. It is a voluminous section that provides a wealth of information about languages in Canada, from the first languages spoken by Aboriginal people to the introduction of English and French. It then traces the Franco-British rivalries that have laid the foundations for the status of languages, and have contributed to the formation of modern Canada. This section explains how, progressively, demographics have changed until the country became predominantly English-speaking, especially after the American Revolution and the arrival of the Loyalists, and then the arrival of hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, it deals with the introduction of official bilingualism in Canada in 1969 and the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, which resulted in considerable progress in the protection of linguistic rights and in the equality of the two official languages. This section also includes an inventory of historical documents and an extensive bibliography. It covers the history of language management from the origins of Canada to the dawn of the 21st century.

The Legal Framework section, authored by Professor François Larocque, explains how the jurisdiction to legislate on language is shared between the various levels of government (federal and provincial / territorial). You will also find numerous hyperlinks to constitutional, federal, and provincial / territorial legislation, as well as to the key judgments that shaped Canada's language management.

The Language Rights section comes from the former LRSP site, as previously explained. It is complementary to the Legislative Framework as it also addresses the legal aspects of language planning in Canada. It takes a pedagogical, rather than scientific or legal angle. It explains the rights and protection measures for members of official language minorities, whether in the field of communications and services, in the judicial and legislative spheres, or in education. It includes, among others, impact studies, case studies, resources for official language minority communities, and fact sheets for secondary schools.

The section on Demolinguistic Statistics was written by Jean-Pierre Corbeil and Alejandro Paez Silva from Statistics Canada in order to guide the reader through some 40 linguistic surveys conducted since 1901 (the date of the first census including linguistic questions) by Statistics Canada. In particular, this section presents 1) the history, development, and conceptualization of language variables currently used by Statistics Canada; 2) the different sources of data available and their different characteristics; and 3) some of the most relevant publications and data tables, whether through hyperlinks or PDF documents.

The author of the Governance section is Carsten Quell, Executive Director at the Center for Excellence in Official Languages, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This section reports on the diversity of language governance models in 14 Canadian jurisdictions (one federal level, three territories and ten provinces).

The final section, International Perspective, places the Canadian model of language planning on the international stage. Created by Professor Jacques Leclerc, author of the Aménagement linguistique dans le monde (website in French only), this section shows how Canada compares and distinguishes itself from some other officially multilingual countries, in terms of both territorial rights and collective rights.

How to Cite Us


CLMC information is available to the public, free of charge. Information may be reproduced in whole or in part, provided the user makes sure to reproduce it faithfully and follows the instructions below.

1. In order to cite the CLMC, please provide the following information: the name of the section author, the title of the section, the name of the editor, the name of the site, and the date that the site has been accessed.

2. In order to use texts produced by the authors of the CLMC for publication, please indicate so with a note like this: The text used is from the section (name of the section) produced by (author (s) of the section) and distributed on the site www.uottawa.ca/clmc edited by Professor Monika Jezak. The site has been accessed (consultation date). Please e-mail us at [email protected] regarding these publications.

3. If you use an external hyperlink from the CMLC, please follow the citation instructions from the respective sites.

4. To add data from this site to another website, please create a hyperlink to CLMC and email us at [email protected].


The opinions are those of the authors of the site. The University of Ottawa and the Government of Canada do not warrant the content, accuracy, or reliability of the information on-line. They are not responsible for the content, accuracy, or reliability of external hyperlinked sites.


The predecessor of CLMC, the Site for Language Management in Canada (SLMC) was created by Professor Jacques Leclerc on behalf of the federal government. In 2011, the Department of Canadian Heritage transferred it to OLBI at the University of Ottawa. CLMC is an upgraded and enhanced version of SLMC and is currently administered by the Language Management Interdisciplinary Research Group at the University of Ottawa.

Canada’s Geopolitical Situation

Canada at a glance

National motto: "A mari usque ad mare"
(From sea to sea)
Official Languages English and French
Capital Ottawa
Head of State Elizabeth II
Governor General Richard Wagner
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Area 9,976,140 km²
Literacy rate 99 %
Life expectancy 82.14 years (2015, source  World Bank)
Currency Canadian dollar
National anthem "O Canada"
Internet Domain *.ca


Country Area

Canada is the second largest country in the world (9,976,140 km²), after Russia (17 million km²). It stretches 6,500 km from west to east, from the 52nd to the 141st degree of longitude, and 5,000 km from north to south, from latitude 84° N (Cape Columbia, Ellesmere Island) to 42° N (Ontario). Canada is 18 times bigger than France, and 40 times the size of Great Britain.

1 Russia 17,075,400 km²
2 Canada 9,976,140 km²
3 United States 9,629,091 km²
4 China 9,596,960 km²
5 Brazil 8,511,965 km²
6 Australia 7,686,850 km²
7 India 3,287,590 km²
8 Argentina 2,766,890 km²
9 Kazakhstan 2,727,300 km²
10 Algeria 2,381,741 km²


Regions, provinces and territories

Canada is made up of five distinct geographic regions: the Atlantic Region (also called the Maritimes), the Central Region, the Prairies, the West Coast, and the Far North. These names have no legal status.

Canada's Regions

Jacques Leclerc 2018

The Maritimes include the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. Ontario and Québec make up the Central Region (Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Valley), where more than half the population of Canada lives. The Prairies are vast plains that cover the entire southern portion of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Located along the Pacific Ocean, British Columbia makes up the West Coast. The term "Western provinces" is also used to refer to the Prairies and British Columbia. The Far North is made up of three territories: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In total, Canada has 10 provinces and three territories.

Region Province/Territory Capital City
Maritimes Newfoundland and Labrador St. John's
Prince Edward Island Charlottetown
Nova Scotia Halifax
New Brunswick Fredericton
Central Québec Québec
Ontario Toronto
Prairies Manitoba Winnipeg
Saskatchewan Regina
Alberta Edmonton
West Coast British Columbia Victoria
Far North Nunavut Iqaluit
Northwest Territories Yellowknife
Yukon Whitehorse
Canadian Federation and its Provinces
A Federal State

Canada is a federal state (called "Canadian Confederation") with ten provinces and three federal territories.

Federal Entities Size Status Capital Entry into Confederation
Alberta 661,188 km² Province Edmonton Sept. 1, 1905
British Columbia 947,800 km² Province Victoria July 20, 1871
Prince Edward Island 5,657 km² Province Charlottetown July 1, 1873
Manitoba 650,000 km² Province Winnipeg July 15, 1870
New Brunswick 73,437km² Province Fredericton July 1, 1867
Nova Scotia 54,565 km² Province Halifax July 1, 1867
Ontario 1,068,630 km² Province Toronto July 1, 1867
Québec 1,667,926 km² Province Québec July 1, 1867
Saskatchewan 651,903 km² Province Regina Sept. 1, 1905
Newfounland and Labrador 402,346 km² Province Saint John's April 1, 1949
Nunavut 1,994,000 km² Territory Iqaluit April 1, 1999
Northwest Territories 1,171,918 km² Territory Yellowknife July 15, 1870
Yukon 530,000 km² Territory Whitehorse June 13, 1898
A Relatively Complex Federal System

For inhabitants of countries with only one government—such as France, Sweden, Israel, or Algeria—it may be hard to understand the complexity of a federal structure, especially since examples (e.g., Germany, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, etc.) generally differ widely, and Canada is no exception. Many citizens of unitary countries can have great difficulty understanding how a country like Canada can function, with its 14 governments and as many parliaments, legal systems, public services, etc., each with its own interests and areas of jurisdiction.

Canada also has a federal prime minister and 10 provincial premiers, as well as members that sit in the House of Commons (Chambre des communes in French) in Ottawa and others in 13 different provincial and territorial legislatures. Those elected to a provincial (or territorial) legislative assembly are called members of the legislative (or national) assembly (MLA and MNA, respectively), members of the provincial parliament (MPPs), or members of the House of Assembly (MHAs), depending on the province or territory.

A Constitutional Monarchy

For reasons linked to the country's history, Canada is a constitutional monarchy whose head of state is the British sovereign, currently Queen Elizabeth II, whose official title is Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada and her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

Canadian System of Governance

The Queen's representative in Canada is the Governor General, who signs laws and performs other official duties. The Queen and her representative play somewhat protocolar roles. The little power they do have is generally reserved for times of "national crisis," which are rather rare. The Governor General is selected by the Prime Minister, who is the party leader with the most number of seats in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Legislative power lies with Canada's parliament, made up of two chambers: the Senate (or Upper Chamber), which numbers 104 members appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister, and the House of Commons (or Lower Chamber), which numbers 308 members. Senators are appointed for life, while members of the House of Commons are elected for five years by universal suffrage. Laws must be approved by both chambers and signed by the Governor General. The Senate officially has powers similar to those of the House of Commons, but in practice, the real centre of power is the House of Commons.

The Canadian judicial system is derived from the common law of England, except in Québec, where provincial civil law is based on the Napoleonic code. Federally, final legal authority lies with the Supreme Court of Canada, made up of a Chief Justice and nine judges, three of whom must be from Québec. This court sits in Ottawa and is the final court of appeal for all civil, criminal, and constitutional matters.

In each of Canada's provinces, the British sovereign is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The head of each provincial government is the Premier, who is accountable before the provincial Parliament, generally unicameral. The generic term first ministers is used in English to refer to both the Prime Minister and all the premiers. This distinction is not made in French, which instead uses premiers ministres fédéral et provinciaux.

The Yukon and Northwest Territories are governed by Commissioners appointed by the federal government. In the Northwest Territories, the Commissioner is assisted by a legislative assembly; in the Yukon, by a council and elected parliament. Nunavut, created in April 1999, is governed by a legislative assembly and premier elected by universal suffrage.

Shared Areas of Jurisdiction

In principle, all of Canada's federated entities are autonomous. They each have their own cabinet, parliament, laws, public service, and institutions. The provinces and territories operate almost as sovereign nations, but without political independence. Under the Constitution of 1867, certain areas of jurisdiction belong exclusively to the federal government, others to the provincial governments, and others are shared by the two levels of government, which can obviously lead to certain conflicts.

Although the territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut) can in certain respects be likened to provinces, they do not officially have this status and in principle enjoy less “sovereignty” from a legislative standpoint because they are institutions that report to the Canadian Parliament. Federal acts of incorporation on the Yukon and Northwest Territories use the term "ordinances" to refer to the "laws" the territories are authorized to adopt. Despite this, the territorial governments tend to use the term “law,” which suggests to them a status similar to that of the provinces. Ordinances must be passed by the Territorial Parliament and forwarded to the federal government, then to the two Canadian Chambers of Parliament (the House of Commons and the Senate). These ordinances can even theoretically be annulled by the federal government within one year. However, this has never happened in practice.

When Canada was created in 1867 (through the British North America Act, now called the Constitutional Act of 1867), the system was meant to be a federal one, with power shared between the centre (federal power) and the provinces (provincial powers with a government in each province). Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution of 1867 specify the various areas of responsibility:

Federal jurisdiction Provincial jurisdiction Shared jurisdiction
  • Public lands and forests
  • Healtcare
  • Municipal institutions
  • Marriage
  • Property and civil laws
  • Education
  • Business licences
  • Provincial constitution
  • Trade
  • Taxes
  • Postal service
  • Militia and defence
  • Currency and banks
  • Indian policies
  • Criminal law
  • Residual powers (not defined in the BNA Act)
  • Right of disallowance over the provinces
  • Agriculture
  • Companies and economic development
  • Prisons and justice
  • Fisheries
  • Public works
  • Transportations and communications
  • Immigration

Source: "British North America Act" in Gérald-A. Beaudoin,
The Constitution of Canada, Montréal, Wilson and Lafleur, 1990, p. 849–902

Although in principle the federal authority holds responsibility over matters of general and national interest and the provincial governments over regional matters, the jurisdictions of the two bodies were not completely settled in 1867. It is not always easy to determine what constitutes "general matters" (appertaining to the federal government) and "local matters" (appertaining to provincial governments) because the two levels of government are both independent and complementary. This is why conflicts of jurisdiction have erupted regularly over the course of Canada's political history, notably in the area of language. Despite these difficulties, Canadians have generally been able to find an amicable way of making the federation work.

    About the Editor

    Monika Jezak has over thirty years of experience teaching French as a second language to various clientele including immersion classes, adult immigrants, and within academia. Author of various publications, she provided expertise in language policy to the UNESCO, the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks and Canadian federal govenmnent.

    For more information please contact Professor Monika Jezak: [email protected]


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