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Timeline of the evolution of language rights in Canada

1867: ​ The Constitution Act, 1867, by which Canada was formally created, provides for the optional use of either English or French in the proceedings of the Quebec legislature and of Canada's parliament, as well as in Quebec and federal courts. Records and journals of the two governments, however, must be written in both languages. 

1870: Section 23 of the Manitoba Act establishes the right to use English or French in the proceedings of the Manitoba Legislature and before federal and Manitoba courts. The laws of the Manitoba Legislature are printed and published in both languages. 

1969: The Canadian Parliament adopts the Official Languages Act, which makes English and French the two official languages of the country. The Act recognizes the equal status, rights and privileges of the two languages with respect to their use in all institutions of Parliament and the federal government. The New Brunswick legislature also adopts a first provincial official languages act

1981: The New Brunswick legislature adopts the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick.

1982: Adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

1986: Ontario's Legislative Assembly adopts the French Language Services Act, which guarantees Ontarians the right to receive services in French from governmental institutions in 25 designated areas. 

1988: The Canadian Parliament adopts a new Official Languages Act which, in particular, specifies the right of Canadians to communicate with, and receive services from, federal offices in the official language of their choice. This new Act also includes a commitment by the federal government to support the development of official language minority communities.

1988: The Saskatchewan legislature adopts the Language Act, which allows any new act to be enacted in English only, or in English and French.  

1991: Entry into force of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations, which determine under what circumstances federal offices must offer communications and services in both official languages and establish the parameters for significant demand ("where numbers warrant"). 

1993: Insertion of section 16.1 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section guarantees the equality of the two linguistic communities in New Brunswick, including the right to distinct educational and cultural institutions. 

1999: Adoption of Manitoba's French Language Services Policy. 

2000: Proclamation of the French Language Services Act in Prince Edward Island. 

2002: The New Brunswick Legislature adopts a new official languages act that specifically creates a commissioner of official languages position for the province.

2003: The Saskatchewan government adopts a French Language Services Policy.  

2004: The Nova Scotia government enacts the French-language Services Act, whose purpose is to "contribute to the preservation and growth of the Acadian and francophone community" and to provide for the delivery of French-language services by governmental institutions. 

2005: Adoption of the Act to amend the Official Languages Act, which requires federal institutions to take positive measures to support the development of official language communities, to enhance their vitality and to promote equal use and status of English and French in Canadian society.  

2007: The Ontario government creates the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, which is primarily responsible for ensuring compliance with the French Language Services Act in the delivery of government services.  

2009: The Canadian Senate ratifies Nunavut's Official Languages Act, which was adopted by the territory's Legislative Assembly the previous year. This Act makes the Inuit language, English and French the three official languages of Nunavut and imposes requirements on government institutions in terms of communications and service to the public. 

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