Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, I have noticed that you have all kinds of ways to say how well your government is doing, but I think we need to tell it like it is.
Under Stephen Harper's Conservative government, a unilingual English-speaking auditor general was appointed, something that hadn't happened in years. It even necessitated a bill being brought forward to prevent a similar appointment from being made in the future and to ensure that all agents of Parliament were bilingual. Under that same Conservative government, two unilingual judges were appointed to the Supreme Court.
On February 22, the newspaper Le Soleil published an article entitled “Communications dans les ministères fédéraux: «Anglais. Sorry »”. In response to the article's findings, you defended the government. Calls were placed to ministers' offices and staff answered only in English. We are talking about ministers' offices. No legislation is being violated, but, as minister, you defended the government.
And there's another thing. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was using English-only business cards. The official languages commissioner had to step in, and it took the minister in question a year before he got rid of the offending unilingual cards. I would point out that the Minister of Foreign Affairs travels all over the world to promote our official languages.
I am going to ask you a straightforward question. This is the third time I have sponsored a bill that would ensure Supreme Court justices were bilingual. Federal courts are bilingual. Appellate courts are bilingual. All the legal experts tell us it makes no sense for things to be any other way. Francophones should have the same rights as anglophones. They should have the right to be heard by a judge who speaks their language and who doesn't have to rely on interpreters.
Minister, will you support the bill this time around? In 2010, when the government had a minority, the majority of members supported the bill on the appointment of bilingual justices to the Supreme Court. The Conservatives in the Senate, however, dragged their heels until an election was called to kill the bill, when Parliament could have taken a stand on the issue once and for all.
As the Minister of Canadian Heritage, are you willing to support Canada's official languages? Are you prepared to support the bill on the appointment of bilingual justices to the Supreme Court, to finally give Canadians equal access to justice in both official languages, once and for all?
That is the question I put to you, minister, with all due respect.