From Cold War to Present Day

Francophones in the Military

A Bilingualism Policy

The 1962 Glassco Report contained the germ of the principle of institutional bilingualism that would take root in the Canadian public service. One commissioner in particular, Eugène Therrien, devoted long paragraphs to the problems encountered by Francophones in the Forces, stressing the impossibility of their feeling comfortable there.

The next year saw the establishment of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In April 1966, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson announced a series of measures to ensure a degree of Francophone and French-language proportional representation in federal institutions. In 1969, finally, the Official Languages Act supported federal institutional bilingualism: Though not all public servants would have to be bilingual, the system would have to be able to serve both external and internal clients in their own language. Pearson's 1966 statement had excluded the armed forces, but the Act of 1969 did not. Between these two events, however, things had begun to move quickly in the military. Integration and unification had done their job. The two studies calling for the reorganization of the old trades (men) and classifications (officers) included chapters on bilingualism. The trades review committee, chaired by a rear admiral, categorically refused to countenance any more French - language units - the Royal 22e Régiment was enough - or afford French more than a social role. The classifications committee chaired by an army major-general, on the other hand, went so far as to suggest that the full training programme might eventually be available in French. Having gone over the preliminary conclusions of the Royal Commission's report, this review group even hazarded an initial estimate of the number of bilingual officer positions the unified forces would need.