Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes, he was very well placed.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
His knowledge was impressive. The briefing he gave me was amazing.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
As a senior official, he had the integrity to confide in me that, in reality, the court challenges program had only been closed for two months and that its funding had lasted for the 10 years during which Mr. Harper was in power. It has now been eight months since any request has been accepted and I can tell you that it is causing unrest in all OLMCs, all across the country. So something has to be done quickly.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In the renewed mandate letter that the minister received this summer, we are still pleased to note that the Prime Minister requires her to begin an examination towards modernizing the act. However, the mandate letter does not say whether this will happen this year, next year or after the next election.
Could you, who work on this every day in the department, tell us what is happening right now? Could you tell this committee whether the examination has begun? Is the department currently working on launching, undertaking, starting this examination, in short, moving towards modernizing the Official Languages Act?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Let me interrupt you, Mr. Racine.
Let's assume that the government has good intentions and does want to modernize the act. Based on your understanding of the time and the steps required to do so, have we reached the eleventh hour? From an objective, bureaucratic and rational point of view, do you think it is possible to modernize the act before the next election?
I'm sure it's difficult to answer that question. Are we going to modernize the entire act or just parts of it? Assuming that we make significant enough changes to the act to modernize it from top to bottom, which is what the OLMCs want, will it be possible to do so by the next election or is it too late to do so?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I'm sure.
You must be following the work of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, which has just published a preliminary report.
As mandarins who know the official languages well, what advice can you give us? What do you think we should be looking at here at the Standing Committee on Official Languages, since we have about six or seven months left? We had thought about studying the granting of enforcement powers to the commissioner, or the positive measures mentioned in part VII of the Official Languages Act. What do you propose that we do? If you were in our shoes, what would you do? What would you focus on in particular, especially in light of the comprehensive study being conducted in the Senate?
By the way, my question is for all of you.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
In your opinion, what aspects have so far not been studied by the Senate and the commissioner?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
In the wake of the worrisome decision in Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique v. Employment and Social Development Canada, were there any directives from the Department of Canadian Heritage or from senior officials of the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie on how to apply the act in the future?
The commissioner himself told us that, for all intents and purposes and to his great dismay, he was no longer receiving complaints related to part VII of the act, if I am not mistaken. Is that right, Mr. Choquette?
I am addressing Mr. Choquette because he is well versed in this area.
As for you, in your respective departments, have you had to take any administrative actions to that end?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I want to come back briefly to the modernization of the act, because I'm not sure I got a concrete answer. This is not a criticism at all, I just want to go deeper.
The mandate letter says there will be an examination. You said there are several steps. Has the first step, whatever it is, been taken? I don't even know what the first step is, but if there is one, has it been taken?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Do I have much time left?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay, but could I ask one last question?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Accountability is a concern we've heard a lot about. My colleagues are as aware of this issue as I am. However, you're the one who provides the funding, whether through action plans or recurrent funding.
There is a division of powers and jurisdictions, but as department officials, are you trying to establish some accountability with your provincial counterparts? Do you sometimes call them and tell them that, although they need money for paving, it would be good to spend a little on official languages? Do exchanges like that take place?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I'm happy to hear it. Thank you.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is an honour to welcome you to the committee, sir, given the breadth of your knowledge of the official languages.
You eloquently addressed nearly all the topics that I would have liked to ask you about. I was a bit confused by some of your remarks, however.
For example, you said it is really the political will that is missing, and I think that's right. No matter which party is in power, this has been going on for 50 years. You said, however, that even if we amend the Official Languages Act we would still be debating the meaning of words.
On the whole, do you think we should go ahead and modernize the act or do you completely reject that option?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
You also talked about the changes made to the Official Languages Regulations. You touched on the calculation being more quantitative than qualitative. I thought including qualitative elements for the first time was a good thing, but you seem to be saying that is not enough.
Could you elaborate on that?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
And if those individuals were included in the count, would that be part of the quantitative parameter or the qualitative one?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Hello and thank you, Mr. Théberge. Hello also to the people accompanying you.
We are pleased to welcome you to the committee as the new commissioner. This is the first time. Welcome.
I think you have a dual role. It involves both the theoretical aspects of the act, as well as your duties at your office and your relationship with Parliament and the official language minority communities, OLMCs, and so forth.
The other part of your role is more political. You have to take action, be a watchdog and sustain the hopes of linguistic minority communities in Canada. There is even a kind of duality in your work: one part is more practical, while the other is more theoretical.
I see what you do and I think it is effective.
At the committee, we heard about a meeting this summer with young French-Canadians. At the meeting, you apparently told them to calm down a bit, not to expect too much, and not to demand ever more favourable measures from the government for the protection of linguistic groups.
I would like to give you the opportunity to explain that. It really surprised us a lot and we were a bit astonished by what those young people said.
Over to you.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay, thank you for your reply.
I would also like to know who you call in government when you want to discuss a finding, your ideas or other matters.
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