English, French and Punjabi?

Canada’s three official languages will be English, French and Punjabi should Jack Layton become Prime Minister according to the Indian Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

From the Indian government’s website:

Toronto, Sep 29 Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton has promised support for a new visa office in Mumbai and official status for the Punjabi language in Canada if he becomes prime minister after the Oct 14 polls.

Jack, whose New Democratic Party (NDP) has fielded a record 14 Indian Canadian candidates to woo the million-strong community, said his party will also roll back a newly passed immigration bill that the community finds discriminatory.

India will be a priority nation for his government if it comes to power and he will visit New Delhi at the earliest, Layton said in an interview.

UPDATE: Not true, says a spokesperson for the NDP who contacted me a few minutes ago via email. Turns out the reporter got the story wrong.

UPDATE: The NDP has been pounding the pavement to get this clarified on this side of the Pacific. From the author of the article,

Subject: from Gurmukh Singh, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), New Delhi

Clarification: Since the word ‘official’ in my report has caused confusion, let me explain it from our Indian perspective.

In India, an “official'” language does not become a “national” language. The acceptance of a language by the government makes it “official”, not a national language.

So Hindi and English are link languages (but never mentioned as national languages in the Indian Constitution), and 21 other languages are our official languages (but not national languages).

So my use of the word “official” might have been confused with the word “national” by some people. But that was not my intention.

All I wanted to know from Jack Layton was whether he will give some kind of recognition to the Punjabi language as it has been here for about a hundred years. Not the status of a national language.

Jack also didn’t promise anything except say that he will support any idea of such a recognition if his party is voted into power.

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