Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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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)
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?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
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.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
That will be done and we can then mark the date on the calendar.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Seeing that there is a strategy might reassure the groups who follow the committee's work and who are very worried.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
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.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Mendicino, thank you for being here this afternoon.
I merely have a comment, but rest assured, it isn't partisan. I'm not quite sure where to begin, but here I go.
I wanted to repeat my NDP colleague's call for the names of any constitutional experts who advised your government in relation to its stance on Bill C-203.
I'd also like to point out that many political scientists and sociologists alike have studied this issue. It's a serious problem that has plagued Canada since 1982. Distinguished Université de Moncton Professor Donald Savoie demonstrated it quite clearly in his book Governing from the Centre. Working as an intern at the Prime Minister's Office, I saw the process in action—a process that puts Canada's democracy in great jeopardy. I am talking about the current concentration of power in Canada in the Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Justice. Together, the two entities assess every piece of proposed legislation to determine whether any part thereof could be challenged before the Supreme Court and deemed unconstitutional.
Although the practice is beneficial and legitimate, the problem is that it results in distorted public policy. The government should not rely on the interpretation of Department of Justice lawyers and constitutional experts that a piece of legislation could be deemed unconstitutional by a judge in the future. As lawmakers, we have the right to assert that a piece of legislation is sound and should move forward, despite what the constitutional experts might think.
If your government is really so concerned about constitutionality, why would you not submit a reference question to the Supreme Court on the bilingual capacity of judges? That would be the least you could do to ensure fewer distortions in our public policy and legislative authority.
As I see it, you should be taking the opposite approach, doing as you did when you were in the opposition. In other words, you should vote in favour of the bill and let Canadians decide whether there is any cause for a Supreme Court challenge, and let the judges, themselves, explore the matter in their expert writings.
Why, then, would you not refer the question to the Supreme Court in order to ascertain the opinion of the actual judges, beyond the government-paid experts at the Department of Justice?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Sir, I'll reiterate my point in English, because I did not talk about politicization in the nomination process.
I was talking about the fact that in the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Ministry of Justice there is what we call the “charter-proof process”, which is very bad for democracy in Canada, because you let lawyers who are not elected members in Canada decide on the future of what could be a law and what to introduce or not introduce in a law. That creates policy distortion in this country. We should never let any lawyers in this country decide if a law will someday in the future be deemed anti-constitutional by a judge who may not even be sitting right now.
That was my point. We should not let non-elected people decide and distort legislative action in this country.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
You talk about constitutional experts. They are creating policy distortions in this country.
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