Skip to main content
Start of content

LANG Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Official Languages



Thursday, November 23, 2017

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]



    Dear friends, the first motion, from Mr. Clarke, proposes the following:
That the committee invite the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to appear before the committee on the new immigration targets as they relate to official languages.
    We will now debate the motion.
    Mr. Vandal, you have the floor.
    I just wanted to say that I am not opposed to the motion itself, but the minister already appeared before the committee, with Ms. Joly, last June. That was just about five months ago.
    He will not have anything new to say to us.
    As to the announcement, I agree that immigration needs to be increased. We do have a serious labour shortage.
    Did he not announce that later than June?
    No, it was just before. He came to speak to us about it.
    In that case, fill me in.
    The clerk can certainly do that.
    Did he indicate which policies he would implement for francophones in Winnipeg?
    It was all there, including the percentage.
    It was 4.5% and everything was in order.
    Perhaps it would be better to wait until April or May to introduce a motion to get an update on the situation.
    For my part, I will want to know if the targets have been met.
    We cannot ask for an update after four months, but we could after a year. I suggest therefore that Mr. Clarke withdraw his motion and come back to it in April or May.
    Mr. Choquette, please go ahead.
    I would like us to go ahead with this motion. I remember the immigration minister's visit very well. I am sorry to say this, but what he said did not make any sense. It was nonsense. We asked him who was responsible for francophone immigration and he said no one was. We asked him whether there was a specific strategy for immigration to minority communities, but he did not know what we were talking about. He thought there was one, but there was none in fact. We asked him to forward that information to the committee and he sent us the Action Plan. It makes no sense.
    He had just become the minister. Perhaps he has more of a feel for his duties now. Francophone immigration right across the country is not going well at all. The minister has had the time to familiarize himself with his duties and get down to work. So I would like him to come and tell us what is going on.
    Thank you, Mr. Choquette.
    Mr. Clarke, please go ahead.
    Mr. Lefebvre's charming remarks have nearly made me lose track. I am also new, but for the past month and a half, all the groups I have met have expressed serious concerns in this regard. In a completely non-partisan way, we would like the minister to come meet with us now that he is familiar with his duties and talk to us specifically about francophone immigration, the strategy, objectives and location.
    Would someone like to say something?
    Mr. Lefebvre, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I have no objection to the minister appearing before the committee again, but we should wait a bit.
    No date is indicated.
    Yes. To my mind, he will decide when he is ready to come speak to us.
    That will be done and we can then mark the date on the calendar.
    The fact that there is no specific date does not bother me. I do not want to hear about strategies, but about results. I think it will take at least six months for the results to be apparent.
    Seeing that there is a strategy might reassure the groups who follow the committee's work and who are very worried.
    Are we agreed?
    (Motion agreed to)
    The next motion is from Mr. Choquette and reads as follows:
That the committee write to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to ask for a written response explaining the delay in the appointment process for the Commissioner of Official Languages; and that the response be sent to the committee by the end of 2017.
    I imagine you have read the newspapers in this regard.
    That can wait until Tuesday.
    Mr. Choquette, you have the floor.
    Mr. Chair, there are some things about this that I do not understand. When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Mr. Mendicino, appeared before the committee, he said that the process for the appointment of the new Commissioner of Official Languages is open and transparent. This morning, however, the newspapers reported a rumour about the identity of the next Commissioner of Official Languages. I do not see transparency or openness. That is why I would like to introduce the following motion—
    Just a minute, Mr. Choquette. I have to deal with the motion before me before moving on to another one.
    Mr. Chair, from what I have heard, my colleagues wish to debate this on Tuesday. I agree.
    So you agree to postpone debate on this motion until next Tuesday?
    I agree.
    That is what we will do then.
    Please go ahead, Mr. Choquette.
    If I may, Mr. Chair, I would like to introduce another motion, which seems very important to me given the lack of transparency surrounding the appointment of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
    The motion is as follows:
That the Committee denounce the non-compliance with subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act regarding consultation with the official opposition leaders on the appointment of the new Commissioner of Official Languages; and that it report this to the House before the end of the year.
    Mr. Arseneault, please go ahead.
    Is the meeting public at this moment?


    What my colleague François Choquette said angers me. From the information I have received, the opposition parties were consulted. There was a leak. This morning, for instance, I was on a teleconference with government officials from my province and they said they had seen the name of someone who had apparently been appointed Commissioner of Official Languages. That is how I learned about this. I was not aware of this. It caused me to raise an eyebrow. I wondered what was going on.
    Let me return to what our colleague François Choquette said initially. The parliamentary secretary said that the appointment process for the Commissioner was transparent and open. The process of soliciting applications is not secret: everyone is invited to submit their name. More than 70 names—it might have been 76 names, I do not recall precisely—were selected and considered during the process. The committee selected for this purpose is of course in charge of the process.
    I received the information indirectly yesterday. I was told that the leak may have come from the person's employer—the person might have notified their employer or board of directors—or from those who received the letter from the opposition parties. These are the two possibilities, but it doesn't matter.
    I would like to clarify something. The clerk has confirmed to me that no certificate has been tabled in the House as of yet. We have to be careful about what is reported in the newspapers. We will not know who has been recommended until the certificate is tabled. In light of what happened last time, I understand that the political parties have to be consulted. I do not know if they have been consulted yet. I have been asked to ensure that we serve our role as a committee as soon as the certificate is tabled, in other words, the person recommended will appear.
    Mr. Choquette, you have the floor.
    I am angered by Mr. Arseneault's comments. He said that 60 or so candidates have been evaluated, yet no one on the committee was aware of that. I was just talking about secrecy and lack of transparency.
    I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada who was on the selection committee. Even the opposition leaders do not know. Speaking of a lack of transparency, this is a good example.
    The motion simply calls for subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act to be upheld and for the opposition leaders to be consulted, rather than being sent a letter. That's all.
    Mr. Clarke, you have the floor.
    I also observed a great deal of secrecy. I asked just one question, and the parliamentary secretary said that we are the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I asked how far along things were, how many applications had been selected, and how many had been rejected. I wanted some details about how the process works. I wanted to know, for instance, what provinces the candidates were from and what there qualifications were. Yet we did not get any answers at all. That is why I put a question on the Order Paper, even though I won't get the information for 45 days, after it is all over. I also find that the whole process was not very open.
    Before continuing our discussion, I simply want to say that I consider Mr. Choquette's motion as a notice of motion. I have no objection should you wish to comment on the notice of motion in the time remaining.
    I would like to come back to that.
    We can come back to it. The clerk will distribute Mr. Choquette's motion, there will be an acceptable timeframe for introducing the motion, and then we will talk about it again next Tuesday.
    That is all I have to say.
     The members of the selection committee were publicly announced in June. Everyone knows that.
    Who are the members?
    Thank you, Mr. Samson and Mr. Choquette.
    Mr. Généreux, you have the floor.
    As far as I know, the opposition leaders received a letter today saying that this person will be appointed or selected, and that there will be a seven-day consultation period for the committee members to evaluate whether it is a good choice.
    What is going on today is due to a media leak. I would be very surprised that Mr. Théberge—sorry, rather, that the person selected—would have told his employer that he is going to Ottawa. There is a process to be followed; as committee members, we have to meet him. Remember what happened last time. I hope he did not do that and, if the leak is from his employer, that is even worse.
    I agree with my fellow committee members. Despite our experience in the spring, we have seen some of the same things this time.


    Thank you, Mr. Généreux.
    We will pick up on this again on Tuesday.
    Mr. Arseneault, you have the last word.
    No, I would just be rambling on.
    We will resume our discussion of this on Tuesday.
    We will adjourn until next Tuesday.
Publication Explorer
Publication Explorer