Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order with respect to the nomination of Madeleine Meilleur as an officer of Parliament, the Official Languages Commissioner, and in particular with respect to the motion the government has now put on notice to confirm her nomination.
As a matter of law, the Official Languages Commissioner can only be appointed if two statutory requirements are satisfied, as set out in section 49 of the enabling act, which states:
The Governor in Council shall, by commission under the Great Seal, appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada after consultation with the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons and approval of the appointment by resolution of the Senate and House of Commons.
Therefore, there must be consultation with leaders of the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party. Second, only after valid consultation has occurred, a resolution must be moved and passed in this place.
Canadian courts have made clear that when the use of the term “consultation” appears in a statute, it connotes much more than notification, yet notification was all that was offered in advance of this appointment announcement to the leader of the New Democratic Party and, I understand, to the leader of the Conservative Party.
Our leader was sent a letter that announced the nomination, and invited a reply within a few days. Having sent that reply, indicating our profound disagreement with the nomination, there has been no offer of further discussion from the government to resolve these concerns.
The courts have upheld, in the case of Lavigne, that the Official Languages Commissioner is appointed under a quasi constitutional statute. This is an officer of Parliament responsible to this place, and not to the government of the day.
Mr. Speaker, simply to provide information, as in the present case, does not constitute the statutory precondition of consultation. Therefore, in our submission, the motion to nominate Ms. Meilleur should not be voted upon until the statutory requirement of true consultation has occurred.