I'm glad you mentioned that I've appeared before the committee before. The questions I was asked by the committee previously prompted me to provide more clarity on where I stand—or at least, I tried to. I really see this as a meaningful and productive exercise.
The last time I was before the committee, I did indeed discuss the approach based on territoriality. I did so because that is the model that universally stands out in the scientific literature. Questions like the one you just asked made me ponder the matter further and consider the so-called blind spots of the approach. I may have only implied this the last time, but I want to be clear now. As far as the protection of French is concerned, the preferred approach should, whenever possible, be the one based on the principle of territoriality, both in Quebec and in regions with a significant francophone population. Basically, that means the areas around Quebec, so northern New Brunswick, eastern Ontario and the Ottawa area. In the other provinces, the approach should be based on the principle of personality, in other words, the promotion of both official languages. That has its limits, however. In an environment where one language is more dominant than the other, when people have the freedom to choose which language they are going to use, more people will inevitably choose the dominant language, meaning English. Nevertheless, it is possible to do certain things.
The model based on the principle of personality, which is the one underlying the Official Languages Act, cannot be expected to work miracles or save a language. It is, however, perfectly legitimate and reasonable to apply the principle of personality in all areas outside Quebec or near the Quebec border that are home to tiny and often isolated French-speaking communities. You're right. Since those communities do not represent the majority, the principle of territoriality cannot, by definition, be applied, except at a micro level. That's the first thing I would say.
For that reason, I would say I respectfully disagree with the witnesses who appeared before me. Personally, I think it is essential that the Official Languages Act refer specifically to the Charter of the French Language. What's more, the notwithstanding clause does not suspend rights; it suspends the requirement to pass constitutional muster, transferring the responsibility of protecting rights to the legislature in question, and the Quebec legislature does a very good job of that.