Pierre Poilievre wants government to use plain language

Jorgen Soby

September 2, 2022

Federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre is proposing “The Plain Language Act” so the government will write in plain language, enabling average Canadians to understand government publications.

Pierre Poilievre wants government to use plain language
Pierre Poilievre wants government to use plain language.

It’s Poilievre’s last proposal before the results of the Conservative leadership race are announced on September 10.

The proposed bill would require employees to use the simplest and fewest words possible in government publications, Poilievre announced. 

“Unfortunately, our governments do nothing but add and add and add paperwork and forms and endless bureaucratic red tape,” he said in a video post to social media. 

Poilievre’s plain language proposal will be similar to the Plain Writing Act, which the United States passed in 2010. It would apply to new or existing publications under review.

According to the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, 79% of nearly 5,500 businesses surveyed said that simplifying regulations and guidance, including plain language, would help reduce red tape and improve regulatory compliance.

The federal government says its “heads of communication” must ensure that all communication is “clear, timely, accurate, accessible, and written in plain language.” Poilievre said these rules are “routinely ignored.”

Poilievre said Canadians can’t understand “bureaucratese,” which he defined as “overcomplicated language used by bureaucrats.”

He said that complex government wording hurts individual Canadians and businesses that spend hours decoding confusing federal regulations.

Poilievre said the policy is essential because Canadians can’t judge a government program if they can’t understand what it’s supposed to do.

“You can’t spend more time with your family or running your business if you’re busy filling out overly complicated paperwork or reading through rules that no one can understand.”

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