The Hon. Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
The Hon. Gerry Phillips
Chair of the Cabinet and Minister without Portfolio
Queen’s Park, Ontario
It has come to our attention that speeches delivered at the Ontario Government-hosted reception, on Thursday, September 18, 2008, for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegates, were interpreted simultaneously only into Russian and not into any other language.
This news is of serious concern for our community and other ethnic communities in Ontario. We would kindly like answers to the following questions.
• Why was Russian chosen as the only language to which interpretation was provided?
• Was it assumed that all central and eastern European delegates speak Russian? Why not Finnish, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian or any other language? Why not French, Canada’s official other language?
• Did this decision originate from the government or civil service?
At the very least, most delegates from Central and Eastern Europe were deeply offended. During the politically tense atmosphere following the Russian invasion of Georgia and Moscow’s unilateral recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhaasia as independent states, it was an insult for these delegates to realize that governments in the west consider the Russian language to be the lingua franca of the region.
May we respectfully request answers to these questions promptly.
The Estonian Central Council in Canada
EKN. Open Letter: (17)