Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay.
That's interesting.
For next year, you are seeking $21.7 million. Are you requesting that money or is the government giving it to you of its own accord? Is it sufficient? Are you satisfied? Is it enough? Is it too much? I suppose it is never too much.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
That brings me to a sub-question, Commissioner.
There are issues with translation at the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the National Energy Board, or NEB, on tendering Internet sites, and so on. There are also cases of flagrant arrogance, such as what happened at the NEB.
Do you have the power to send them a letter signed by you asking what the issue is? Are you doing that?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon to both of you, Mr. Jedwab and Ms. Chouinard. I am very happy that you are here.
Ms. Chouinard, I think this is the first time you have appeared before the committee. You said it was an honour and a privilege to be here. I am glad to have given you this honour and privilege, since it was my office that invited you. I have seen all your expertise over the past year.
I wanted to hear what you had to say about the administrative tribunal. You mentioned it during your presentation, but I have a few specific questions.
But first, Mr. Jedwab, I want to tell you that I really liked what you said at the end of your opening remarks on the country's fundamental proposals, namely the two founding peoples and the multicultural environment in which we live. This fundamental proposal must never be forgotten. I agree 100% with this vision of the country.
Ms. Chouinard, I detected a contradiction in your comments that may not be a contradiction. I wanted you to correct or clarify what you said. You said that, since the Charter was enshrined, there has been a liberal and generous interpretation by the Supreme Court with respect to language rights. On the other hand, you said that the Official Languages Act and the Federal Court have not yielded the expected results.
Personally, I see this as a contradiction. Can you elaborate on it, please?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay.
You say that the commissioner could have more coercive powers, or rather that he definitely has coercive powers right now, but that he does not always use them.
Do you think we should either strengthen the commissioner's coercive powers or create an administrative tribunal, or do you think we could do both at the same time?
What do you think the best option is?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
In your opinion, what are the main benefits of an administrative tribunal?
First, would it be an independent, autonomous tribunal, or would we give responsibility for language rights to the human rights tribunal, for example? Do you envision a completely separate administrative tribunal for official languages?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
There is a lot of talk about the wording of the act and replacing the word “may” with “must”. That's interesting and it would be very good, but I have concerns about part VII and the impact it might have on the British North America Act and the separation of powers.
Do you think that this change of wording from the word “may” to “must” should also be done in part VII, while fully respecting the areas of jurisdiction?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Ah, yes, I heard that. Part IV has regulations, but Part VII doesn't.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
It's like a body without legs, basically. We have no idea how to make it work.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I have another quick question.
As far as the Commissioner is concerned, when I spoke to other international experts, I noted that there was a lot of room for the idiosyncrasy of the individual in the position. As you said, never has a commissioner brought a case to court. I think I understood that.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I was finishing my question. May I wrap up quickly, please?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Shouldn't the act be changed with respect to the Office of the Commissioner so that the individual in office doesn't always make decisions in a discretionary manner, as he or she sees fit? Shouldn't the act tell the Commissioner that he or she must do this or that every time?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Mr. Kong and Mr. Forgues. Thank you for being with us today.
Mr. Kong, I think you have been very specific in your opening remarks. I might come back to you, but I'll just start off with Mr. Forgues, with all due respect, as I have many questions for him.
Mr. Forgues, please be as succinct as possible.
You talked about the efficacy of the act. Have you seen the FCFA’s proposed bill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I understand. That’s one of my concerns as well.
Do you support an administrative tribunal for official languages?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
The FCFA is proposing that it be mandatory to review the act every 10 years. Given the principles of the Westminster system, I’m not so sure it would be smart to force Parliament to undertake such a specific exercise every 10 years.
You’re a sociologist, so do you think that a mandatory review every 10 years could have a deflating effect on organizations like the FCFA? After all, they are a mobilizing force and a significant part of their focus, or underlying desire, is reforming the act. From a sociologist's standpoint, do you think a deflating effect would be likely?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I’m going to move on to another question. As I'm sure you can appreciate, Mr. Forgues, I need to be speedy.
I’m not sure I understood this correctly. At the beginning of your statement, you said that compliance with the Official Languages Act was better today than in the past, and then you talked about the lack of leadership within government agencies. Did I get that right? How is compliance with the act better today?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
How much time do I have left, Mr. Chair?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Excellent. That’s loads of time.
Of course, many want to see the word “shall” replace the word “may” in part VII. Taking into account the federal dynamic and the Constitution Act, 1867, do you think that change is necessary?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Very well, but you, Mr. Forgues, what do you think?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Madame Huws, it's an honour to have you through televised conference. I knew a bit about Wales, but I didn't know that there were so many particularities and that there was a commissioner. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.
I'll go right to the subject at hand. You have punitive measures in your regulatory functions, including up to £5,000 in fines. In terms of all the measures at your disposal, which do you find have the most impact when you have to use one of them?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
In those instances where you do use the fine, who is the fine paid to? Are these paid to collective funds or a place where fines are amassed to be used to address the lack of services, for example?
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