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Results: 1 - 15 of 34
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
View Mike Wallace Profile
2015-05-11 17:26
We did have our researcher check on your previous question.
A letter is sent from the council to the Minister of Justice who could pass it on to the committee for review, but I think the system is so good, in terms of vetting who becomes a judge, that we have very few issues with judges. When we do, they seem to quit before that happens.
Do you have another question?
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fraser, Ms. Lagacé and Ms. Saikaley, welcome to the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
Commissioner, did you consistently support Bill C-208, which concerns the appointment of bilingual judges to the Supreme Court? I introduced the bill in the House of Commons three times. Were you disappointed with yesterday evening's results?
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
I think that's a fair comment in terms of the impact the hockey is having. I concede, actually, that CBC/Radio-Canada does a good job transmitting news and ideas from one part of the country to the other, particularly Radio-Canada as it relates to news in other parts of the country into Quebec. And if my colleagues on the other side ever want to propose that the CBC or Radio-Canada, instead of cutting jobs in the regions, start with the national capital in Ottawa, I'd be happy to support that.
For example, when the Liberals cut program spending in the mid-1990s, they cut the regions before they cut Ottawa. Mr. Godin's not here today, but if it meant moving the job from Ottawa to Moncton, for example, I'd support him on that.
But I actually want to come back to an issue you have talked to me about before, and others. I know it's one you are interested in, perhaps even passionate about. It's something Monsieur Godin brought up earlier, and that is the question of bilingual Supreme Court judges, which I know you support. I do not, but let's not get into a discussion on the issue.
But I'm curious to know; in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on the Senate and amending the Senate and making change to the Senate, whereby the Supreme Court ruled that the federal Parliament could not make a unilateral change to the makeup of the Senate, would you concede that, with reference to the Senate, to make a change to the bilingual Supreme Court judges, as a federal institution, would require the consent of the provinces? We don't need to get into it—seven of 10 or a unanimous number of provinces—but that provincial consent would be required to change the makeup of the courts so judges had to be bilingual in order to be appointed.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
Do the courts in each province in Canada have a sufficient number of bilingual judges to ensure access to justice in both official languages?
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
There is something I do not understand, Madam Minister. Last Tuesday, officials from the Department of Justice came to testify before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. One of them was Michel Francoeur. He talked about sections 530 and 531 of the Criminal Code, which clearly describe the right to be tried before a judge in the official language of one's choice.
I asked the witnesses if there were enough judges to guarantee that right. I gathered from remarks by Mr. Doyle, another of the witnesses, that there were a lot of bilingual judges in Canada. I asked him to confirm that for me and he replied that it was true, that there are enough.
There is some contradiction, you might say, between the comments of certain federal officials and those of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The former say that there is a sufficient number of bilingual judges, the latter says there is not. I find it difficult to understand. I will be honest with you, I purposely made him repeat his answer three times, because I had such a hard time with it.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
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.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
Ladies and gentlemen, I call this meeting to order. This is meeting number five of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
We are studying the subject matter of clauses 471 and 472 of Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures. Today we have witnesses to deal with the clauses that were referred to this committee.
We have Professor Carissima—is that how you say it?
View Mike Wallace Profile
CPC (ON)
Sorry. We have Professor Carissima Mathen, associate professor, faculty of law, University of Ottawa, and Adam Dodek, who is vice-dean of research, and associate professor, faculty of law. Thank you for joining us this morning.
Professor Mathen, you are first, for 10 minutes, please.
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
Good morning. My thanks to the witnesses for joining us today.
Professor Dodek, I am going to follow up on the questions that Ms. Boivin asked you.
Essentially, you are saying that the federal government is acting well within its rights, that it is not illegal to make declaratory provisions like those in clauses 471 and 472. Your opposition is rather to the form, to the fact that this is in Bill C-4. So you are not opposed to the substance, but just to the form, is that correct?
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
Given the decision in the Canada Bread Company Ltd. case, there is no doubt that the federal government clearly has the right to make these declaratory provisions. That case was about an appeal of a judgment in a Quebec case where the Government of Quebec completely eliminated what had been done, using a declaratory provision.
So the government is completely within its rights to do this, correct?
View Robert Goguen Profile
CPC (NB)
The bill may be passed, or it may be defeated. Since there will be a vote, it will be democratic in some measure, will it not?
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