Interventions in Committee
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
The Office québécois de la langue française has a language police section, does it not?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Thibodeau, for agreeing to come here at the last minute. Thank you as well for the courage you have shown as a Canadian in addressing such a major issue and devoting your energy to it for many years. Your wife has also contributed to that effort. We have laws in Canada, and it happens that some of them are not complied with. We therefore need individuals such as you to take the initiative in these types of situations. You are simply rendering a service to society.
Since official language issues are new to me, I am in no way an expert. Pardon me then if my questions seem somewhat amateurish.
How do you view the fact that Air Canada is the only private sector company subject to the Official Languages Act?
Do you feel that every service must be bilingual?
What are your relations with companies other than Air Canada?
I do not know whether my question makes sense.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Of course, you are familiar with all the arguments and difficulties outlined by Air Canada, such as changes that must be made to airport entry doors and situations in which a bilingual employee is sick. I think the only real solution for Air Canada to meet its obligations under the act would be for all its employees, without exception, to be bilingual.
What you think of that?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Pardon me, sir, but is institutional bilingualism sustainable in a context in which there are 45 million passengers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Thank you.
Mr. Samson raised a critical issue, the issue of delinquent suppliers. I would like to talk about that.
You were talking about solutions. In fact, the solution is strictly political. There are no others. However, it is extremely dangerous, in Canada, to talk about bilingualism. It can cost us an election.
In November 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Caron-Boutet case. In my opinion, it was not by chance that the decision was issued after the election. During the election, it could have triggered a constitutional crisis, or at least a political crisis. This is certainly a case that you are very familiar with, madam. The Court decided to reject the challenge of these two francophones from Alberta and Saskatchewan that was based on historical reasoning and on agreements. In their opinion, Alberta and Saskatchewan should be bilingual provinces and all their laws should, by this very fact, be bilingual. They unfortunately lost their case, because the Supreme Court must first and foremost protect Canadian unity. It does not say this, but it remains that this is its absolute role.
I remind you also that, on the site of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, your predecessor, Mr. Graham Fraser, expressed his extreme disappointment in this Supreme Court decision.
Mr. Caron's lawyer, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said this: “The Trudeau government should do the right thing and say that it will correct this mistake and pay the province of Saskatchewan and Alberta the money they need to translate all their laws and the court rules”.
Bilingualism is a question of politics and money. This is the problem. It is extremely expensive. When the Supreme Court decided that Manitoba should be bilingual, according to the agreements, it cost billions of dollars.
For the providers to stop being delinquent, we, the politicians, must set an example. In particular, we could invest the billions of dollars necessary for Alberta and Saskatchewan to become bilingual provinces. In this way, they could no longer oppose this idea for financial reasons.
On the other hand, there would still be political problems. In fact, I am not sure that Ms. Notley would be re-elected if she took this initiative.
That being said, madam, I would like to know whether, like Mr. Fraser, you were disappointed by this decision and whether you believe that the current liberal government—and I really am asking this without any partisanship—should correct this problem in a political manner and not stop at this decision?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
That could be the solution.
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province, even though Quebec is also bilingual. In fact, according to the British North America Act, all of our laws must be bilingual. At the National Assembly of Quebec, one can freely speak English. A minister was even criticized for responding in French to a question posed in English last week at the National Assembly.
I ask myself some serious questions about the Official Languages Act. In my opinion, because of the very important cultural rivalries and the political culture in Canada, this act is not being implemented adequately.
This brings me to my second question.
As interim commissioner, do you believe that regional bilingualism, as in Switzerland, could be a solution? Each region would have a referendum to choose a language, and this choice would then be applied. Do you find this revolutionary, too dangerous? What is your perspective on this subject?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Good morning, members of the committee and witnesses.
I'm very pleased to be here because the two solitudes live in me. I'm half anglophone and half francophone. My father is the biggest francophile in New Brunswick, and his MP could confirm it.
I would like to address the Quebec Community Groups Network.
On page 5 of your document, you are comparing the English-speaking minority communities in the regions in Quebec and those in Ontario, but there is a danger when you are comparing with francophones in Ontario. The anglophones in Quebec have institutional sovereignty in terms of education, from daycare to university, health care—from dressings to surgery—and government services. You have provisions that even let you speak English in the National Assembly. Conversely, in Ontario, francophones don't always have hospitals or francophone universities.
Do you have anything to say about that? In my view, it is a sort of flawed comparison, because the context is not the same at all.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
That's interesting. I would say that, in Ontario, from a political and discursive perspective, francophones are favoured within a sort of diversity that people like to promote. Although that's not the case in Quebec and you're not at the forefront of a diversity policy that is actively promoted, you still have a very strong institutional foundation, which is not necessarily the case of francophones in Ontario.
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