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View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair. It's great to be back. As always, thank you for the land acknowledgement as we meet here as a committee on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I'm joined by Diane Lafleur, associate deputy minister; and Paul Thoppil, chief finances, results and delivery officer.
That's a really nice title, Paul.
I'm here to speak to the main estimates for Crown-Indigenous Relations as well as on behalf of my honourable colleague Minister Leblanc, who is responsible for northern affairs. We hope he will be well and back with us soon.
As you know, in August 2017 the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs was a vestige of the colonial era. It was completely unsuited to support and partner with indigenous people based on their unique histories, circumstances and aspirations. The two new departments are designed and organized to better serve the needs of indigenous peoples and structured to better support first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in implementing their visions of self-determination.
The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the department for which I'm responsible, has been advancing forward-looking and transformative work to create a new relationship with indigenous peoples as well as support the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of northerners.
I'm pleased to appear on my department's main estimates, which total $7 billion.
This year's main estimates reflect a net increase of $3.9 billion, or 126%, compared to last year. The increase is primarily attributable to the inclusion of $933.9 million for budget 2019 investments, as well as the following major items: an increase of $2 billion for the childhood claims settlement; an increase of $750 million for the sixties scoop settlement; and an increase of $141 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities, including solid waste and Inuit housing.
Budget 2019 investments are reflected in the department's main estimates under separate votes. As their Treasury Board submissions are approved, departments will be able to access funds from these votes for their investments.
These investments build upon the government's historic investments of $16.8 billion through three previous budgets to achieve the shared priorities of indigenous peoples in Canada, now totalling more than $20 billion of new funding.
Across the country, indigenous leadership, non-indigenous Canadians and the government are working in partnership to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Together we are making progress.
Budget 2019 makes significant new investments that support indigenous peoples' plans for self-determination and their work of rebuilding.
These include concrete measures to remove impediments to reaching agreements that affirm indigenous rights and address past grievances.
The budget also includes investments to support the government's continued progress in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.
Budget 2018 ended the practice of funding comprehensive claim negotiations through loans and replaced them with non-repayable contributions. Budget 2019 goes even further by including funding of up to $1.4 billion to forgive all outstanding comprehensive claim negotiation loans and to reimburse indigenous governments that had already repaid these loans. More than 230 indigenous communities will immediately benefit from having these loans off their books or reimbursed. This will allow them to take advantage of opportunities that were out of reach, and to focus on investing in their priorities, such as governance, infrastructure and economic development.
Budget 2019 also replenishes the specific claims settlement fund for another three years, and increases the funding for specific claims research by $8 million per year for five years. These investments will support the resolution of claims more efficiently and effectively, so we can move forward together in a good way.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action provide all Canadians a path forward for Canada's journey of healing and reconciliation.
Our government is working with its partners to accelerate progress on the 94 calls to action and has made significant progress on the calls to action under federal or shared responsibility.
I am very proud of the significant investments made by budget 2019 specifically through our department to support further progress on implementation. Budget 2019 provides $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish the National Council for Reconciliation and endow it with its initial operating capital, which addresses calls to action 53 to 55.
To address calls to action 72 to 76, the budget invests $33.8 million over three years to develop and maintain the national residential school student death register, and to work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
The budget provides $9.1 million over three years to support the construction of an indigenous legal lodge at the University of Victoria, and $10 million over five years in support of indigenous law initiatives across Canada. Through the justice partnership and innovation program, these investments support the implementation of call to action 50.
The budget supports call to action 66—this is one of my favourites—with $15.2 million over three years for an indigenous youth pilot program, delivered by the Canadian Roots Exchange. Funding will support the establishment of a distinctions-based national network of indigenous youth to help ensure that the Government of Canada's policies and programs are informed by the diverse voices of indigenous youth, and provides support to community events and gatherings for indigenous youth and reconciliation-focused, community-based indigenous youth activities.
The budget also provides $10 million over two years advancing call to action 80 to support communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed national day for truth and reconciliation.
Our government also understands that success will require taking a truly whole-of-government approach to the TRC's calls to action. I can assure you that every department is taking up the challenge to advance the calls to action in their areas of responsibility. For example, just last week, Minister Hussen introduced the change to the oath of citizenship, which responds to call to action 94.
Our government has been working with northerners and indigenous and territorial partners to build strong, diversified, sustainable and dynamic Arctic and northern communities.
Budget 2019 invests over $700 million in new and focused funding over 10 years to ensure that Arctic and northern communities continue to grow and prosper. Additionally, territorial formula financing transfers will total over $3.9 billion in 2019-20.
Budget 2019 investments, through Northern Affairs, include three important initiatives: cleaning up the largest and highest risk contaminated sites in northern Canada; supporting diversified post-secondary education options in the north; and building connections in Canada's Arctic and northern regions. We are committed to co-developing initiatives for the north with northerners and making the necessary investments to support those co-developed solutions.
I look forward to discussing these priorities in more detail through your questions.
Meegwetch. Thank you. Merci.
Stéphane Perrault
View Stéphane Perrault Profile
Stéphane Perrault
2019-02-07 11:07
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's a pleasure for me to be here, especially since we are in the new building. It's the first time I've been in here.
I welcome this opportunity to appear before the committee today to present Elections Canada's supplementary and interim estimates and update you on our preparations for the general elections.
Today, the committee is voting on Elections Canada's 2018-19 Supplementary Estimates “B” as well as its 2019-20 Interim Supply.
The supplementary estimates are related to budget 2018 measures, which rebalance Elections Canada's expenditures between its parliamentary and statutory authorities. This allows Elections Canada to increase the number of its permanent employees, thereby avoiding higher contracting expenditures. While there is an increase of $1.3 million to the appropriation in 2018-19, this results in a net decrease of $26,000 to the fiscal framework over the same period.
In other words, casual, fixed-term or contractual resources that we had and that we paid on an ongoing basis in accordance with the statutory authority will now be indeterminate resources paid under the parliamentary appropriation on which the committee is voting, which is appropriate. So it's simply a transfer of money from one credit to another.
Today, the committee is also voting on Elections Canada's Interim Supply for 2019-20, which totals $9.8 million. This represents the salaries of some 440 indeterminate positions for the first quarter of the fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2019. It does not include other agency expenditures, which are funded from a statutory appropriation.
Elections Canada is now entering the final stretch of its preparations for the next general election. Chief among these is the implementation of the recent legislative changes enacted by Parliament under the Elections Modernization Act. While the act provides for a general implementation period of six months, it allows me to bring provisions into force earlier if the necessary preparations are completed. My intention is to bring provisions of the law into force as soon as that is the case. As of January 19, certain provisions for which little or no preparation was required are already in force through posting in the Canada Gazette.
I am pleased to report that our IT systems have been updated to reflect C-76 modifications and will have been rigorously tested by the end of this month.
Changes to the political financing regime will be implemented in consultation with political parties through the established opinions, guidelines and interpretation notes process. Changes will be in place for the pre-writ period beginning June 30.
We are also reaching out to potential third parties—they are not known—and online platforms to inform them of their new obligations under the law.
Our general preparations for the election are progressing as planned and local election administrators are fully mobilized. A key focus for returning officers has been improving the selection of poll sites from the elector's point of view, considering accessibility, travel distance and familiarity.
For this election, we are also increasing the number of educational institutions where electors can vote by a special ballot, from 39 campuses in the last election to 115. This is part of our general efforts to assist voters who are away from home during the election. As in the past, returning officers will also deliver voting services for those who may be hospitalized, living in long-term care facilities or at remote work camps.
Returning officers have also increased the number of advance polls and advance polling locations. One of the benefits will be reduced travel distances in rural areas. Combined with other improvements, electors can also expect faster services when they vote at the next election. With the completion of Bill C-76 changes scheduled for this month, our IT infrastructure will be fully ready to be deployed to support a general election, both at headquarters and in the field.
This spring the agency is conducting an election simulation in Gatineau and in five local offices representative of a variety of settings across the country. This exercise is an opportunity to test our business processes and our IT systems in a setting that closely resembles an actual general election. As part of this, election workers will be hired, trained and will participate in simulated voting exercises. This will allow us to evaluate the quality of our training material and manuals and to make any necessary adjustments.
Finally, work continues to improve the coverage and currency of the national register of electors. We have been conducting regular mailings to invite electors who just turned 18 in the past year to register, with more than 50,000 added as a result. This spring, through our pre-writ communications campaign, we will also focus on increasing the number of electors in the register and updating information for those who have recently moved. In addition, the register will continue to benefit from regular updates from provincial jurisdictions and federal and provincial data partners.
In this regard, the provision of Bill C-76 that authorizes Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to share with Elections Canada information on non-citizens is now in force, as of January 19. I am looking forward to finalizing arrangements this spring to access data, which will contribute to improving the integrity of the national register of electors.
A key aspect of our preparation focuses on electoral security. In the current environment, securing the next election requires efforts of many institutions. Protecting the election is a vital challenge for all participants in a democratic process. Political parties, media, digital platforms, civil society groups, and Canadians all must play a role. Over the last few years we have made important improvements to the security of our IT infrastructure and are providing IT security training to all our personnel at headquarters and in the field.
In the spring, and as we get closer to the election, we will be launching a major information campaign to give Canadians accessible information on how to register and vote. We will also be monitoring the environment, including social media, to detect inaccurate information about the voting process and quickly correct it.
Finally, we continue to work with the commissioner of Canada elections and security and intelligence agencies. Together we are conducting exercises using multiple scenarios to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clear, and that proper governance is established to coordinate our actions, should it be required. Overall, these efforts will both reinforce our protections and increase our resilience to possible attempts to disrupt the election.
With only months before the start of the 43rd general election, I believe that Elections Canada is where it needs to be in terms of its preparations. Canadians can continue to count on Elections Canada to ensure the electoral process remains accessible, convenient and secure, and to provide them any information they may require to exercise their right to vote.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We are here to answer questions that members may have.
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll beg the indulgence of the committee. I'm the newbie here, so I'm going to probably ask some questions that you have thoroughly canvassed. If you don't mind, I will ask them.
Regarding voter ID cards, voter fraud and non-Canadians who vote, what does the system look like? What are the safeguards?
Stéphane Perrault
View Stéphane Perrault Profile
Stéphane Perrault
2019-02-07 11:53
The voter information card will be a piece of ID at the next election, as per Bill C-76. It's important to remember that it's not a stand-alone piece of ID. Nobody can vote with a voter information card without another piece of ID. You'll need a second piece of ID to support that. That will assist the voters—a small portion of voters—who have challenges. Also, as I mentioned in my remarks, we are making efforts to improve the accuracy of the register of electors, so that will improve the accuracy of the voter information cards.
The greater concern for me is non-citizens. We've noted for years that for all kinds of reasons—tax forms being checked—we estimate that there are a number of non-citizens in the register. That is quite material. It doesn't mean that these people will vote, but they may receive a voter information card. If they're in the register, they will. That's been a concern for Elections Canada for many years, and we've sought amendments to the law to make sure that we can have access to data on non-citizens that is held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
That's been many years in coming. We now have that authority, and we are negotiating a transfer of data agreement, an MOU, with the department, to make sure that we can purge non-citizens from the register. That will be an important effort in the spring.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you to all the witnesses for coming before the committee in this important study.
My first question is for Mr. Brown.
I read the brief you prepared for the lobby day on the Hill a few weeks ago. I agree with your two asks about international students. The first one was around the co-placements, and the other one was on the IRPA section 91 concerns around campus officials offering limited immigration advice. Hopefully, IRCC is receptive to those two things and can make changes to address your concerns. I just wanted to let you know.
Now, let me ask you a broader question. What can we do to encourage more international students to stay in Canada after graduation and move on to the permanent residency and the citizenship paths?
Adam Brown
View Adam Brown Profile
Adam Brown
2018-12-11 16:02
As I highlighted, I think one of the best things that the federal government can do is make the pathways to citizenship that much more accessible. Our ask with section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is a solid way to make sure that international student advisers who are able to legally offer this advice are on campuses so that students can go straight to them. What we see right now is shortages on campuses, so students have to find out where else they can go; whereas they already have many well-developed relationships with international student advisers who offer different program or academic advice as well.
I would say that's one of the best ways to help encourage them to stay in the country; that is, make sure that the pathways to permanent residency and citizenship are clear and accessible and it's possible to navigate them well.
The other thing would be continuing the dialogue that there is a shortage of skilled labour in Canada and that there are places for international students here, creating a welcoming environment where they know that they have a place here and that Canada values their contributions to our country. That will also help to facilitate that dialogue with them.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-12-04 11:03
Good morning. Welcome to the 136th meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Today we continue our consideration of the 4th report of the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business, wherein the subcommittee recommended that Bill C-421 be designated non-votable.
We are pleased to be joined by Philippe Dufresne, the House's law clerk and parliamentary counsel.
Thank you for being here today. It's great to have you back again and to have your wise counsel. We look forward to your opening remarks—or your remarks. That's the only reason we're here.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:04
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I'm pleased to be here with you today to assist the committee in its work as it considers the votability of Bill C-421. On November 29, 2018, the committee commenced consideration of matters related to private members' business regarding Bill C-421. The committee heard representations from Mr. Mario Beaulieu, the member of Parliament for La Pointe-de-l'Île and sponsor of the bill, and Mr. Marc-André Roche, researcher for the Bloc Québécois.
I understand that the conversation was focused on whether Bill C-421 complies with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and following that meeting the committee decided to invite me to appear to discuss some of the legal issues raised.
My remarks today will be focusing on the following topics. I will address the charter questions and the drafting of private members' bills. I will note the confidentiality of the private members' drafting process in my office. I will speak to the non-votability criterion adopted by this committee specifically, and the requirement that the bill does not clearly violate the Constitution. I will discuss some recent case law of the Federal Court of Appeal that may be helpful in identifying the parameters of this criterion. I will, of course, be happy to respond to any questions that the committee members may have about the specific constitutional issues that have been raised to date.
The legislative counsel working for my office are responsible for drafting bills for members who are not part of the government. In my opinion, this is an essential service for parliamentary democracy. We are committed to this mandate and we fulfill it with a great deal of enthusiasm. I am extremely proud of the dedicated team who does this work in a professional and impartial manner.
In addition to drafting the bill properly, the legislative counsel assigned to the bill advises the member if they believe that it raises issues related to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or to the Constitution of Canada. Depending on the nature of the issue, the counsel may suggest that the member contact the Library of Parliament to obtain further information or they will draft a formal legal opinion for the member. Those exchanges about the bill are confidential and cannot be divulged without the member's consent.
Constitutional issues may be resolved in various ways. For example, the counsel may discuss with the member and suggest an approach to mitigate the risks of violating the charter. The counsel may also suggest drafting a national strategy if the matter in question is rather under provincial jurisdiction, or if the member proceeds by way of a motion instead of a bill. Regardless of any concerns raised, the final decision to proceed with the bill rests with the member.
Confidentiality is extremely important to us. It is mentioned in the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs dated March 16, 2000, in which the committee noted that the work of legislative counsel is covered by parliamentary privilege, which has an even higher legal basis, as it is provided for in our Constitution. The committee quoted the Speaker from March 13, 2000, who stated:
All staff of the House of Commons working in support of Members in their legislative function are governed by strict confidentiality with regard to persons outside their operational field and, of course, vis-à-vis other Members.
This is fundamental. When we serve you as legislators in providing the legislative drafting services, we do so with strict confidentiality. I will not be discussing today any conversations or advice that could have been given to any member on any specific topic. I am available and here to address the issues generally before you, and specifically, to talk about the criteria around non-votability.
As you know, a bill that is added to the order of precedence will be reviewed by the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business to determine its votability. An analyst from the Library of Parliament is assigned to assist the subcommittee when considerations relating to votability are raised. The analyst can provide information and analysis on the issue but cannot provide a legal opinion. The votability criteria are established by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. In the most recent version of the criteria established in May 2007, the four criteria are as follows:
Bills and motions must not concern questions that are outside federal jurisdiction;
Bills and motions must not clearly violate the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
We are most interested in that last criterion.
Bills and motions must not concern questions that are substantially the same as ones already voted on by the House of Commons in the current session of Parliament, or as ones preceding them in the order of precedence;
Bills and motions must not concern questions that are currently on the Order Paper or Notice Paper as items of government business.
Bills that fail to meet the criterion, with a clear violation of the Constitution Act, will be found to be non-votable.
To determine if a bill is non-votable, the question is not whether any given bills, or in this case Bill C-421 could violate the charter, but rather whether the bill clearly violates the charter, which is a higher standard for intervention. It is one that is more favourable to allowing debates about bills in the House. The process is internal to the House of Commons. As I've stated, it was set out and the criterion was adopted by this committee.
However, a useful comparison can be made to the standard applied by the Minister of Justice for the review of government bills for charter compliance pursuant to section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act. This section requires the minister to “ascertain whether any of the provisions” of a government bill “are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. It requires the minister to report any such inconsistency to the House.
In a recent decision, Schmidt v. Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal had to determine the interpretation of this criterion of ascertaining whether it's inconsistent. There were two possibilities: Are you going to ask whether it's likely in violation of the charter, or are you going to ask for a higher threshold?
In the decision written by Justice Stratas for the Federal Court of Appeal, the court found that the appropriate standard obliges the Minister of Justice to report when there is no credible argument supporting the constitutionality of a proposed bill, and not when the proposed bill or regulation may likely be unconstitutional.
The court held that, given the uncertain difficult jurisprudential terrain of constitutional law and the time when the minister is expected to assess proposed legislation, the only responsible reliable report that could be given under the examination provisions is when proposed legislation is so constitutionally deficient it cannot be credibly defended. In other words, the court affirmed that the Minister of Justice only needs to inform the House of inconsistency between a government bill and the charter when no credible argument can be made in support of the measure. The court added that this approach was justified, given the inherent difficulty in predicting the outcome of constitutional law cases before the courts.
The court gave a number of examples. The case law can evolve, the Supreme Court itself can change its previous findings, and a lot of the charter cases will be dependent on the facts that will be led in justification of any violation. It's difficult to predict, and that supported a strict standard. The court also noted that it made sense for the standard applied by the minister to be commensurate to the standard applied by this committee in determining votability.
Leave to appeal has been sought, in this decision, to the Supreme Court of Canada. It may not be the last word on this point, but it is to date, at this time, the last word on the interpretation. As a result, in a similar way, the committee examines proposed legislation to determine whether it clearly violates the charter, not whether it could violate the charter.
In my view, if we apply this standard, if you apply it, a bill would only be deemed non-votable in situations where no credible argument could be made in support of the bill's constitutionality. That is, in my view, a helpful standard because it helps to deal with uncertainties.
Justice Stratas talked about this in his decision, saying that there will be rare cases where it's so obvious and so clear that you can make this determination, but in others the standard will not be met. That's the question before this committee, and I will be happy to assist as best I can in answering any questions you may have. I know there were some specific charter issues that were discussed in the previous hearings, and I'm happy to address those.
Thank you.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-12-04 11:14
I'm just going to go informally and let people ask questions.
I just want to ask two things quickly, though. You talk about helping members of Parliament. Roughly how many people are you?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:14
The total in my office is 36. We have two main mandates. One is legal advice to the House itself, and one is the legislative drafting. The legislative drafting would be about half of my office, including the publication of bills.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-12-04 11:15
When you talk about the justice minister's requirement to see if a bill's content doesn't offend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they do not do that analysis of private members' bills in advance, do they?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Dufresne, for clarity, the charter provides that Canadians can communicate with the government in either language. Is that correct?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Bill C-421 specifies that an applicant for citizenship in Quebec must demonstrate a knowledge of French. The only question for me is this: Is demonstrating a knowledge of a language to the government communicating with the government? If it is, then I don't see a credible argument to make this constitutional. I want to hear your thoughts on that.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:15
I tried to anticipate some of the dilemma and analysis. I would look at the arguments that could be made in favour of there being a violation and arguments that could be made to say that there is no violation.
To argue that there's a violation of section 20, the argument would be, as you suggest, Mr. Graham, that a person would be forced to speak French with the federal government in establishing that they have an understanding of the French language, and that this would breach section 20 and maybe, arguably, section 16 of the charter in terms of official languages. Another argument could be that it would discourage the use of English by permanent residents in Quebec who wish to obtain citizenship. Those would be some of the types of arguments to say this is breached.
The arguments in support of the provision's constitutionality on those grounds, I think, would be that the bill doesn't prevent a person from communicating with the government. If the government is writing letters to the individual, if the individual is getting invited to the ceremony or is being asked for documentation to demonstrate their knowledge of French, all of that could be done in English, and then of course, demonstrating that the knowledge of French would be dealt with. The argument could be that you need to show that you can understand French, but in your communication with the government, are you able to do that largely in English? That would be the argument.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
But Mr. Dufresne, there's no standard saying “largely” in a language. You communicate in the language of your choice. The moment at any step in the process here when you're required to speak only one of the official languages, the whole purpose of that section of the charter seems to be broken to me. Is that fair, or am I misinterpreting it?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:17
I think this is probably why the Federal Court of Appeal has adopted the standard of, “Does it clearly violate?” You can see the argument. How can you demonstrate your knowledge of French without speaking French? That's the argument on that side of the ledger.
On the other side, you could say that section 20 requires that communication.... When the government invites you and communicates with you, it does it in the language of your choice, which could be English, in this case. The criterion that you have to meet is to demonstrate your knowledge of French. That's part of what you have to show to meet the condition of citizenship, but otherwise, the communications with you by the government before, after and during this are done in the language of your choice. That would be the argument.
At the end of the day, what would a court decide? It's hard to predict. You can have those two arguments. You can have arguments that subsection 16(3) of the charter talks about promoting the use of both French and English in Canada. Is it a relevant consideration that French is the minority language in Canada, but it's the majority language of Quebec? Again, you could have some arguments on those sides.
Assuming there is a violation—the court could say that if you're asked to demonstrate your knowledge of French, you are required to communicate in French, so it's a violation of section 20—then the issue would become whether is it justified by section 1 of the charter. There is case law about the test that has to be met. The test generally requires showing that there is a sufficiently important objective to the legislation, and that it is a reasonable limit. In terms of a reasonable limit, the court will look at whether it minimally impairs the right that is affected.
Case law to date has recognized that the promotion and preservation of French in Quebec is a legitimate objective. The most recent decision of this is the Nguyen case at the Supreme Court of Canada. The first ones were Ford and Devine, talking about the importance there.
It's in the second criterion that it's become quite difficult. Is it a minimal impairment of the right? Then the question becomes, have you adopted the measure that's least intrusive to achieve your objective? In the case law about the language of business in Quebec, when the law required only French, it was found to be an unjustifiable limit because it was too extreme. When the law was that you had to have both French and English, the court found that that was a reasonable measure, even if it brought some disadvantage to English-speaking stores.
Those are all the things that courts will look at when faced with a charter challenge. They will look at evidence to ask what is the impact, what could be alternative measures, and are there any ways to allow some flexibility in the bill? For instance, if someone has a learning disability and has difficulty learning French, is that going to be an absolute prohibition, or is that going to be something that's taken into consideration by providing reasonable accommodation? Those would be some of the issues at play in a court looking at this and determining constitutionality.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:21
The Nguyen case was 2007, if memory serves.
I'll just confirm the date: December 2008.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Effectively, the Oakes test has been applied then to a number of language rights. Nguyen is the most recent, but Ford is another example. What was the third case you mentioned?
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
I actually wrote a book on this, but I wrote it in 1993 and a quarter of a century has gone by, and so on.
What is the case on the the ruling from David Stratas? Do you have any idea when we'll find out whether leave to appeal has been granted?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:23
The issue there was the proper interpretation to give to the minister's interpretation of her obligation to provide a report to the House. The appellant, Edgar Schmidt, who is a former drafter with the Department of Justice, was arguing that the standard should be a stricter standard and that you would have to really be satisfied that there is a strong argument or credible argument of constitutionality and that would provide further charter protection.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
It sounds to me as if he was arguing in favour of basically looking at a balance of the probabilities, whereas the standard currently being applied would be sort of a reversed version of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Does that sound like a rough way of describing the two?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:24
I would agree with that. I think that's really the issue. Are you going to require that you feel it's more likely than not that this is going to be upheld, or are you going to find that there's no credible argument? It's not exactly the same, but it's the same idea.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Forgive me making this editorial observation—you are free to agree or disagree with what I have to say—but balance of the probabilities sounds, when you first hear about it, to be the simpler test. However, I would say that's actually not true. Finding no credible or reasonable argument to be given, no argument that a reasonable person would take seriously—that's the reasonable person test and this is a version of that—is actually I think easier to do because you're surrounded by reasonable people, whereas balance of the probabilities is balance of the probabilities when trying to divine what the nine people on the Supreme Court are going to be ruling. It's actually the balance of the probabilities as to whether it would survive being tested at the Supreme Court.
That is an inherently difficult task. You have people coming onto and leaving the court, some of whom—at this point, the majority of whom—have probably never dealt with a language rights case. There's actually, I would submit, a higher degree of uncertainty about that.
I just throw that out as an observation. Does that sound like...?
Remember, we have a situation in which drafters working for the justice department, for the minister, are trying to provide this kind of feedback on absolutely every single piece of legislation that comes forward. I would think that would actually be a hard standard for them to meet.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:26
I think your description is consistent with what the Federal Court of Appeal found. It said that the executive is not limited to proposing measures that are:
...certain to be constitutional or likely to be constitutional. Rather, as a constitutional matter, in the words of the Federal Court...it is entitled to put forward proposed legislation that, after a “robust review of the clauses in draft legislation” is “defendable in Court.”
The court goes on to ask why that is. One of the reasons is that the charter is a document suffused with balances. It's not unequivocal. There are no unqualified guarantees of rights and freedoms. There's considerable scope for questioning debate, deliberation in Parliament, vis-à-vis that. At the end of the day, there's a role for courts to play.
What's interesting in the decision in Schmidt is that the court goes through, in large measure, highlighting some of the uncertainties in predicting. They talk about the fact that the constitutional authorities are not necessarily good precedents in later cases. Courts now depart more readily from earlier constitutional precedents.
We're talking about some of the decisions from the 1980s. This is more than 20 years later. We've seen the court, and Schmidt talks about certain specific cases—the Carter case on physician-assisted death where the court changed its jurisprudence on constitutional validity in a charter matter.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Was Justice Stratas's point there that it would have been impossible to bring forward some aspects of bill—I've forgotten the bill number, the assisted dying act—had we applied the stricter criteria we're trying to...? Is that part of what he was saying?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:28
I think it may be that you would have to report on many more bills, because the consequence for the Minister of Justice is that they have to present a report. It doesn't mean the bill doesn't go forward. It's a different consequence here. With this committee, the consequence is that the bill is not votable.
In my sense, the criterion is a similar one. Just to quote one last part of the decision, the court says:
...in conclusion, I ask this question: given the nature of constitutional law and litigation and the practical obstacles facing the Department of Justice, what is more likely? That the examination provisions require the Minister to reach a definitive view, settle upon probability assessments and report when she concludes that proposed legislation is “likely” unconstitutional? Or that the examination provisions require the Minister to report whenever there is no credible argument supporting the constitutionality of proposed legislation?
I would suggest the latter. Given the uncertain, difficult jurisprudential terrain of constitutional law and the time when the Minister is expected to assess proposed legislation—
This is the part I read to you in my statement:
—the only responsible, reliable report that could be given under the examination provisions is when proposed legislation is so constitutionally deficient, it cannot be credibly defended.
One of the questions is this: Is that a test that can ever be met? If you're putting the bar too high, you're never going to report, or you're never going to determine something not to be votable. The court says that one thing is clear. Even in this difficult, uncertain, speculative environment, some proposed legislation may be so deficient that the minister can conclude with confidence that no credible argument could be made to support it. I would suggest it's the same for this committee.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Just to be clear, regardless of what report was done, or whether we approve a piece of legislation as votable, it goes through and gets enacted, if it's actually unconstitutional and someone takes it to court, it will eventually be struck down. By definition.... I've actually given a tautological statement. That which is unconstitutional is that which the Supreme Court says is unconstitutional. By definition, this bill, if it's unconstitutional, becomes the law of the land, or is an attempt made by Parliament to make it the law of the land. It will nevertheless not be the law of the land if the court deems it to be unconstitutional.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:30
That's correct.
It's interesting. In terms of having the last word on something, and in terms of questions not always being clear, administrative law as a field of law recognizes that, for many legal questions, there may be more than one possible answer.
It has been stated sometimes that the court that gets it right is really the court that has the last word, because you have appeals, and you can overturn it. It's not necessarily that the other one was objectively wrong, but someone has to have a last word on those questions.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
I hope colleagues will agree that, if nothing else, when you bring in the parliamentary law clerk, it's always fascinating.
Just help me make sure I have the horse in front of the cart. The matter before us right now is not specifically the constitutionality of the bill. That is the second step. The first step is that we as an appellant body have been asked to overrule a judgment that a given bill is not votable because it is obviously unconstitutional.
I moved the motion to bring you in. What I wanted to hear from you was just that. Is it that blatant? If so, it's a slam dunk for us, but I'm hearing something very different from that. I'll get to that in a moment.
Staying with the votability, colleagues, I come to this with a strong bias. I've always had a great deal of difficulty with the notion that the majority of MPs get to decide whether an individual MP's bill gets the right of a vote. This is in the context of how our rights as members of Parliament have been lost over the decades as our parliamentary system has evolved. I always start with the bias that you better have a darn good reason for telling a member of Parliament that they don't have the right to air their issue. The one area where you have some sovereignty around here is the private member's bill, and now you're being told by everybody else that your right has been extinguished, and that this was done by peers, colleagues, so I offer my bias up front.
Having said that, I think it makes good sense that if something is outrageously unconstitutional, if it is obviously a violation of our Charter of Rights, we would not want to give it credibility by allowing a vote on it. The fact that it is unconstitutional means, in my view, that you haven't done your homework as member of Parliament. Rather than just saying your rights have been extinguished, go back and do your homework. Do the job right and figure out a way to bring it forward so that it is at least constitutional. If you can't do that, too bad. That's kind of where I am.
Parenthetically, I want to say that one of the things I am truly going to miss in not being a member of Parliament is having a fascinating discussion with a group of people where one of them says, “Yeah, I wrote a book about that.” This didn't happen in my previous life, and I don't expect it to happen in my future life, but in this life it happens, and it's amazing, especially when it's someone of the credibility of the person I'm talking about.
To get back to the point, for me, that's why it was so important to have you in here. There was some question that, by virtue of your office, your having given a constitutional opinion to the author of the bill would somehow negate our right to have an equally thoughtful opinion. That was a real problem.
I think we seem to be okay with that. We're not asking what advice you gave them. We are saying, “This is now before us. What advice do you give us?” It may be the same. It may be different. That's between you and the member, but anything that would preclude a committee of Parliament from seeking and benefiting from the thinking of the parliamentary law clerk nullifies, to me, what the system is there for. I'm a layperson. I have a grade 9 education. If we're going to talk constitutions, I want my lawyer. Who's my lawyer? The parliamentary law clerk.
Anyway, I think we got past that, and it's all good and fine.
Coming back to the actual issue, help me again with the test. Can a credible argument be made against the constitutionality? Tease that out a bit for me, please.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Thank you.
I thought I heard you do that. At least you said, “On the one hand,” and then you said, “On the other hand”. To me, when we're saying something's not votable, it should be so strong that there is no “other hand”, but I heard—as a layperson—what seemed like, at least prima facie, good arguments on both sides.
Are you in agreement with what I'm saying so far?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:36
I don't know if they were good, but I did give arguments on both sides.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
How many more tests do we need, though? This is my point.
Regardless of how we feel about the issue—set the politics of the issue aside—the question before us as an appellant body is, should this bill be allowed to have a vote? The only way that it should not be is that if it's so in violation of the Constitution that it just makes a mockery should we allow that vote. That doesn't seem to be where we are.
Now, I've entered into a dialogue with colleagues. I'm only the second speaker—sorry, third—and I enjoy these discussions. I'm looking forward to feedback as we go through, but I have to say, Chair, that this is where I thought we might end up.
Regardless of how I feel about the bill, as a member acting in an appellant body manner, I'm now finding it very difficult to justify saying to a colleague, “Your private member's bill does not deserve to be voted on.” Because why...? The only thing I can think of is that we either start getting into the constitutionality, in which case it seems that there's at least a valid argument and debate to be had, on both sides. Second, of course, is that if it does get past this body and goes on to the House, the House can use a different standard, that is, whether they like the bill or not and whether they agree that it ought to be the law of the land. That's not what we're doing right here and right now.
Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but where we are right now is hearing from a subcommittee that has said, “We believe this is not votable because it's not constitutional”. The member has appealed that decision to us. It is our decision to make before it goes to the House. I haven't heard a good argument that backs up the subcommittee argument that it's unconstitutional, because the parliamentary law clerk has at least offered up that there can be at least a credible argument on both sides, as a starting point, recognizing that at the end of the day it's the Supreme Court that will make a final determination on its constitutionality. Even that may not be the end of the day. A further Supreme Court in the future could do something, but for our purposes here, this is where we are in that process.
Right now, colleagues, I am strongly inclined to vote against the recommendation of the subcommittee and vote in favour of this, allowing it to go forward. Having said that, I'm going to listen intently. This is a serious matter. If people see it differently than I do, I can be persuaded. That's my thinking so far.
I thank you for the floor, Chair.
View Linda Lapointe Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I have listened carefully to your arguments, both positive and negative. I have listened carefully and I fully understand, coming from Quebec.
You referred to subsection 16(1), but also to paragraph 20(1)(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which states that “there is a significant demand for communications” in English or French. An application for Canadian citizenship is more than significant, it is very significant because the goal is to make you a true Canadian citizen.
Let me take you back to my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, which is north of Montreal, where there are exclusively English-speaking permanent residents with links to people from the United States.
Many of my fellow constituents who became Canadian citizens told me that it was very difficult to pass the exam and that it required a lot of preparation. If a person has to choose between French and English when they are not fluent in French, it is difficult for them. They all told me that it was already difficult to pass the exam in either of the two languages.
If anglophones in Quebec are not allowed to take their citizenship test in English, will they have to go outside Quebec to do so? Is that the other possibility?
Let's say that I am a permanent francophone resident living outside Quebec, but not in New Brunswick, the only bilingual province. I am elsewhere and the same thing, only in reverse, happens to me. Will I have to take my exam in English when we know that the exam is very difficult and requires a lot of preparation?
You used the words “clearly, likely, could”, but I don't know where the line is drawn. Let me go back to what paragraph 20(1)(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, says: “there is a significant demand for communications” in English or French. In my opinion, an application to become a Canadian citizen is one of the most significant communications with the federal government.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:43
As I said with regard to the test, is there a credible argument to defend its validity? So we're really talking about something clear.
With respect to section 20, the issue is whether individuals are prevented from communicating with the government in the language of their choice.
You said that people would be forced to take the citizenship test in English. That would be something to explore. Would the bill you are studying have that effect? According to the bill, people will have to demonstrate that they have “adequate knowledge of French”. Is that separate from the exam?
When other questions are asked, such as about the knowledge of Canada, is the person being forced to take the test in French or are those two completely different things? That would be something important to look at. If the person is actually forced to answer all the other questions of the citizenship process in French, it becomes more difficult to defend, and perhaps it is easier to refer to section 1. However, if people can take their citizenship test in English but, in one part of the process, they must demonstrate that they have an adequate knowledge of French, in terms of a potential violation, it is probably a little less intrusive. It is one of the many facts to be considered.
The Supreme Court, in Schmidt, noted that some constitutional disputes depend on evidence brought before the court.
In practice, how does that work? The charter sets out human rights principles, and the case law says that legislation must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the charter.
In fact, the Solski case in Quebec has set a precedent for the right to education in the minority language. The question was whether the education act violated the charter. The Supreme Court said that the section could be salvaged if it were interpreted more broadly. Allowing a person to study in the minority language in a qualitative way is acceptable, as it it is in keeping with the spirit of the charter. However, if we adopt a stricter approach and evaluate only the quantity, not the quality, of education, it is too stringent and it violates the charter.
That would be the kind of question to ask here. How is this interpreted? Are we really saying that all communications with the government and departments must be in French or are we saying that they can be in the language of one's choice but that, during this process, people must demonstrate that they have an adequate knowledge of French? This could certainly influence the outcome.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:46
If I may, I want to go back to one comment you made, Mr. Christopherson. Not to be too technical about it, but I do take the confidentiality of the work of my office so seriously that I want to mention it.
I understood your remarks to say that we did give legal advice to the member in this case, and I want to say I'm not here confirming whether we gave any advice, let alone what the advice would be. That is all confidential. I was speaking very generally to say that as a rule we can give advice—sometimes we do and sometimes we don't—but I'm not here confirming even the fact of advice being given, because that is part of the strict confidentiality.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
Chris, do you want to go first?
No? Okay.
We are talking about credible arguments. However, let me point out that there is a difference between a credible argument and one that seems credible. We could talk at length about arguments that seem credible. For example, an argument against climate change may seem credible, even though there is no credible argument against climate change. We might say that we cannot act on an argument that seems credible, so we are no longer moving forward. I just wanted to share these thoughts with you.
When people demonstrate an adequate knowledge, as the bill says, they must do so by communicating. By definition, they are communicating: they are in front of an officer who administers a test to check their ability to speak in one of the two languages in particular.
I have a hard time understanding how this would not apply to communications with the government. Nowhere in the bill does it say that we should normally, or most of the time, speak in a particular language; it says that we must be able to communicate in that language.
Let's take the example of someone who would like to drive from here to Rio de Janeiro. The person would face a slight problem, called the Darién Gap, between Panama and Colombia. There is no road across it. That region is more than 110 kilometres long, and no roads cross it. So we can't drive to South America. It's therefore like saying that, because we can cover 99% of the route, we can cross America by car.
That is not a very compelling argument. Yes, an argument seems credible with respect to the constitutionality of the bill, but I see no credible argument that makes it constitutional.
I would like to hear your comments on that.
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:49
Mr. Graham, all I can say on the matter is that this is really your decision. It is up to you and the committee to assess it. For my part, I try to indicate as best I can what the test is. It's a tough test. I have tried to identify some problems related to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, does this bill violate section 20?
Even if that were the case, you would also have to check whether this is justified under section 1. There are other considerations as well, including minimal or no impairment, and even how important the objective is. To be consistent, it is important to acknowledge that, even if the court recognized in Nguyen that the objective was sufficiently important, this would likely no longer be the case now. Those are the factors at play, but it is really up to you to decide.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
What if the same bill reversed were to say that, in Alberta alone, you have to demonstrate a knowledge of English in order to apply? There is a francophone community in Alberta.
If there were a requirement to take the test in English or to demonstrate knowledge of English in Alberta, would we be having this discussion? Instead,would we be saying that this is not good and that it is a blatant attack on the French language? It's the same thing. Would we be having the same discussion?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:50
All I can say is that, in terms of the constitutionality issues, it would be the same discussion in that we would be asking ourselves whether this violates section 20. If so, we would then ask ourselves whether it is justified, whether the legislative objective in this province and in this context is sufficiently important to require knowledge of English in such circumstances and whether it is a minimal impairment.
That being said, for you, members of the committee, the issue would not be to decide whether it is constitutional or not, but to establish whether it is clearly a violation of the charter and whether there is a lack of credible arguments to defend the bill.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2018-12-04 11:51
Is there something, though, in the jurisprudence that because it's a minority language, it's a different situation, because French is a minority?
Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2018-12-04 11:51
That's where the court in the Quebec case is dealing with the promotion of language. That's the element, with regard to section 1 of the charter, that has to be justified. The court will look at the purpose of the bill. Is it a sufficiently important objective that's being sought and that's infringing a provision of the charter?
In those cases in Quebec, so far, the courts have said it is a sufficiently important objective to promote French in Quebec as a minority language in Canada.
That depends on the facts of the circumstances, and the onus is on the government, in defending the legislation, to establish that for the court.
View David Christopherson Profile
NDP (ON)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I listened very carefully to Madame Lapointe and Mr. Graham, but what I heard were arguments against the bill. Fair enough. Let me be further transparent. I'm not a judge, so I don't have to worry about some of those standards.
Somebody is going to have a heck of a time convincing me to vote for that bill for the obvious reason that I think Mr. Graham touched most closely, which is, “What? Are you kidding me?” That's me, the MP from Hamilton Centre, my first blush. I'm like, “Whoa, I don't like this at all.” If I have an opportunity, unless somebody convinces me otherwise, I'm going to vote against it. That is very separate from whether or not my colleague, a fellow MP, has the right to have his private member's bill put to the test of the House.
For those of you who served on local councils, perhaps you would be reminded, like I am, of zoning issues, where you have, say, a small business that is being opened on a corner. It's a good commercial location, but it's abutting a residential area. You can tell that I represented downtown. The zoning allows for use as, let's say, a pizza parlour, but it's short two parking spots. You could go to the committee of adjustment. Its sole focus is whether or not those two spots should be enough to deny them what otherwise they have as of right. Nine times out of 10, residents come in—and constituents, understandably—and they argue against the pizza parlour being there. Really, the only question in front of the committee of adjustment is whether the lack of the two parking spots that are a requirement justifies negating the rest of the right of that property owner to have their as-of-right zoning applied.
I feel the same way here. We keep wanting to get into the issue and whether we like it or not.
Mr. Chair, I would ask you to please be specific and clear. Unless I have this wrong, that's not what's in front of us. What's in front of us right now is us in our capacity as an appellant body to a subcommittee that has recommended that this is not votable. So far, I'm not hearing arguments that justify the banning of a colleague's right to bring a bill before the House of Commons.
Remember colleagues, the day we stop allowing members of Parliament to bring a bill to the House.... This is some dangerous water that we're wading into. It doesn't seem like it in our peaceful kingdom, but when you get a chance to get out in the world and see what can happen, or get a little experience around here or at the provincial level and see the kinds of things that can happen, you will see that these things matter. It's really important that we get them right when there isn't a crisis because when there's a crisis, the politics of the day will take over.
I say that because, colleagues, I am listening carefully. However, I'm still not hearing a good argument yet on why we should deny our colleague the right to have his day in court. In this case, that means his right to put forward his private member's bill that he believes is incredibly important to his riding and, in this case, his province. We should move very, very cautiously when we start denying each other that right.
I'm still listening, Mr. Chair.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We were implored by the member from the Bloc to look at this from a legal standpoint, and I appreciate what Mr. Christopherson is discussing. I look at us—and I think this was mentioned by Mr. Christopherson—as the appeal court in this. Someone is bringing forward an appeal. The way an appeal works is that you have had a trial, the evidence has been presented and the decision has been made. The onus is then on the appellant to come forward and bring some evidence that the trial court was wrong.
I'll be honest that I haven't heard that, especially from the honourable member who brought his appeal forward to us, in that there was no good legal argument. I even asked, “Have you spoken to constitutional scholars about it?” and he said, “Yes, three of them,” but he wouldn't provide their names. There was no briefing. There was no background. There was no information.
I respect Mr. Dufresne and his experience and expertise and what he brings to the table. We have an argument that it could go either way.
As an appeal court would, I give deference to the original decision-makers. It's not a committee that the government has majority on. I give deference to those decision-makers who have made the decision, and I haven't heard anything to really change my mind.
I appreciate the passion and vigour with which Mr. Christopherson is arguing, but nothing was brought forward by the member to really go against what the committee had decided. I even asked him, in terms of bringing an argument.... In the argument he brought forward, he cited one case. That isn't a problem if you have one great case—that's perfectly fine—but it was based on a different section of the charter than the sections of the charter he was arguing about.
Even looking at this from a legal standpoint, I am not convinced that the original committee was wrong. That's what we have to decide at the end of the day: Were they wrong? Again, with respect to Mr. Dufresne, it's not his role and he didn't come here to say someone's right and someone's wrong. He walked a very fine line, and I commend him for doing that.
Mr. Dufresne can correct me—not that he ever has to. I'm a lawyer and would never advise my clients to waive their confidentiality, their solicitor-client privilege, but if they couldn't afford the legal advice, which is something they said, we've been told that the confidentiality could be waived with regard to the legal advice that may or may not have been provided by the parliamentary clerks, and that wasn't done. That was another opportunity for the members to come forward and say, “Here's some evidence that the original committee was wrong.” At the end of the—
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Are you suggesting duplicity here on Mr. Dufresne's part? I'm just not sure what accusation you're making or what you are insinuating.
View Chris Bittle Profile
Lib. (ON)
As I just said, Mr. Reid—and I'm sure you were paying full attention to that—as a lawyer, I respect solicitor-client privilege, but if the honourable member says they have no expertise and there is nothing they can bring forward.... It's something they could have provided. It's not something I'm suggesting he should have provided, but it's their job, his job, to present us with evidence that the original committee was wrong. It's something he didn't do. At the end of the day, that was an avenue that was open to him. He didn't choose it. He shouldn't have to. I respect solicitor-client privilege, as I mentioned in the same paragraph.
You're still listening at the same level that you were before. I appreciate that, Mr. Reid.
At the end of the day, I'm not convinced, and I respect and give deference to the original committee. Thank you.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The credible argument.... I'm going back to what David said originally about how you demonstrate knowledge of a language without being forced to speak it or communicate in it. I don't think there is another credible argument. How else would you do it? Is being forced to demonstrate knowledge of a language not a violation of the charter at that point? You're being forced to speak it. Doesn't everyone have the right to choose?
What's the argument? Can you walk me through the other credible argument on the other side?
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