Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
We are going to start meeting 147, which is being televised today.
We have the honour of having Raymond Théberge, the Commissioner of Official Languages, with us today.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(f), we are studying the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages 2018-19, referred to the committee on May 9, 2019.
To give some context to today's meeting for everyone watching, I would like to point out that the act provides for the presentation of an annual report by the Commissioner of Official Languages. This has been the case since 1969, if I'm not mistaken. The committee's conventions and traditions provide that we shall promptly receive the Commissioner each time so that he can submit his report directly.
Mr. Commissioner, you will have 10 minutes, as is customary, to make your opening remarks. Then, according to the committee's procedure, we will have a one-hour roundtable discussion.
Thank you to you and your team for being here today, including Ms. Giguère, Assistant Commissioner, and Ms. Saikaley.
Go ahead, Mr. Commissioner. We are listening.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mrs. Boucher.
Mr. Choquette has honourably given up his three minutes.
Commissioner, I have two questions for you, and I am sure that Mr. Samson will be happy to hear the first one.
I would like to talk about bilingualism for the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. I do not think I am mistaken in saying that all members of this committee would like to see the legislation change so that the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada must be bilingual. After all, we all voted in favour of Mr. Choquette's commendable bill.
I have a special request for you, which goes beyond the work of this committee. We only have three weeks left, but you have at least six years.
At the moment, there is a serious problem. Some lawyers from the Department of Justice claim to be constitutional experts, and some really are. Let me throw this idea at you, although I do not know whether you have the authority to do it. They do not work for nothing, but would you be able to employ some constitutional experts to help you to write a legal text, a solid, well-supported counter-argument in opposition to the legal minds in the Department of Justice? That is a text that we could use in the future.
We need you. As members of Parliament, we do not have the resources we need to employ eminent constitutional scholars, but your office does. You have a substantial budget. Would it be worthwhile to prepare a constitutional argument in support of Mr. Choquette's motion?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Consider it, please. We need your help on this.
Finally, Commissioner, I want to thank you for the work you have done in the last year, especially for your second report. I want you to know that you have our moral support. We are with you. You do not stand alone in Canada. You have important tasks and heavy responsibilities. I strongly encourage you to continue in the same direction, even to exert a little more pressure, no matter which government is in power. You have nothing to fear. I want to say that we support you. Surveys seem to demonstrate that most Canadians support your work, and that is positive. I really want you to know that we are behind you. In turn, we expect you to be behind us.
Thank you for appearing before us today, Commissioner.
My thanks to my colleagues for their questions.
Would you like to say a few words?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Alright. Thank you, Mr. MacKinnon. We will certainly send them to you.
To close your presentation, you said that PSPC is committed "to promoting and supporting bilingualism in Canada in everything we do." For my part, I noted during all of my meetings with representatives of OLMCs that they were a bit tired of hearing about promotion and all the rest. You make these speeches, while at the same time, we noted that two months ago, your department's Internet sites that featured calls for tenders were riddled with errors in the French. I am not saying you are guilty of anything, but I am telling you this respectfully. These were grammar or even translation errors. It is interesting and all the more since we have Mr. Déry from the Translation Bureau with us.
It seems that we currently have a lack of leadership in Cabinet. How do you answer for this?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes. It will be May 29 and 30, I believe.
We received the invitation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dupuis.
It is always an honour to have you at the committee as the main representatives of all of the country's francophone groups. I don't think I'll offend anyone by saying that, as you just said that the bill was a compendium of all of the requests from everywhere in the country.
I have eight questions to ask, and to the extent that that is possible, I would like you to answer them by yes or no. I think you will see that they won't require much expounding.
On page 32 of the document I have here, in Part Vll, section 41.3, entitled “Duty with respect to data collection”, are you alluding to Statistics Canada?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Yes. So, basically, you want the law to include an obligation that Statistics Canada carry out a proper census.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
For my second question, let's go to section 41.5 on page 33, entitled “Duty when leasing a federal building or federal real property in the National Capital Region”.
I'm not sure I understand. Does the duty apply to the physical location or to the people in it?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I see. I hadn't understood properly. I thought it was about posting signs on the premises.
Let's go to the next page for my third question. This won't be a yes or no question.
Paragraph 43(1)(c) states:
(c) encourage provincial governments to adopt measures that foster progress toward the equality of status or use of English and French;
How would you like to do that?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I see. So that can be done by adding language clauses. We are not talking about encouragement.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
On page 35, paragraph 43.1(1) is entitled “Duty to support instruction in the language of the official language minority communities”.
Is the objective here to broaden the rights holders principle?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I see. That's a very good answer.
For my fifth question, let's go to page 36. Paragraph 43.1(5), entitled “Use of Funds'', says the following:
(5) The minister shall ensure that the funds transferred to the provinces are spent in the manner provided for in the negotiated agreements.
Does this refer back directly to the language clauses?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Very well.
Do I understand correctly that through 43.2(1), you wish to include the Official Languages in Education Program, OLEP, in the act?
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