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View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2021-06-23 14:14 [p.9047]
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Mr. Speaker, 400 years ago, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, was celebrated in Quebec on June 24 with bonfires along the St. Lawrence River. Now a national holiday for Quebeckers of all origins, this holiday celebrates our profound attachment to the nation we are today.
For me, Quebec's national holiday has always been an important day because it celebrates the nation I chose and that welcomed me 40 years ago, when I emigrated from Chili with my mother.
This year's theme is “Vivre le Québec tissé serré”, because we are close-knit and we have witnessed the great solidarity shown by the people of Hochelaga and everywhere in Quebec. To all the organizations in my riding that delivered thousands of meals and spread goodwill among our citizens, my deepest thanks.
I enthusiastically invite you to promote this Quebec nation which, generation after generation, expresses its pride, its solidarity, and its attachment to its language and its culture, always open to the world.
I wish Quebeckers a happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and, of course, “Go, Habs, go!”
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-23 14:19 [p.9048]
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Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has been the dominant theme of three successive sessions, which will come to an end this afternoon.
This will be Quebec's second national holiday under the threat—which is finally subsiding—of a virus of diverse and formidable forms and effects, but a celebration is definitely in order. Our nation comes together in the face of adversity.
As we can begin to feel hopeful and as our efforts and discipline seem to be paying off, the holiday will feel particularly liberating, although our national holiday always feels liberating.
On behalf of all members of the Bloc Québécois, along with our staff, I would like to wish everyone a very happy Quebec national holiday.
I wish a happy Quebec national holiday to all Quebeckers, to our indigenous friends and to everyone who loves Quebec with the passion of our dreams for building a future together.
This June 24, all of Quebec will move into the blue zone.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-23 14:43 [p.9052]
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Mr. Speaker, throughout the session, Quebec has mobilized to demand that the Charter of the French Language apply to federally regulated businesses.
The Quebec government has introduced its Bill 96. As a reflection of the majority of Quebeckers, the National Assembly unanimously supported Bill 101 in federal workplaces. Even the House of Commons joined the consensus. This is unprecedented. The only one not on board is the Prime Minister.
Tomorrow is our national holiday. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to support our bill, which makes French the only language of work in Quebec?
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View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2021-06-23 14:44 [p.9052]
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Mr. Speaker, as a proud Quebecker, I look forward to celebrating the national holiday tomorrow.
I would like to wish a happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to all francophones across the country who are celebrating tomorrow, especially since we all have high hopes for our Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night at the Bell Centre. We look forward to a great celebration for all of us.
Regarding the French language, we recognized in the Speech from the Throne and in our official languages bill that French must be protected across the country, including in Quebec, while protecting official language minorities across the country.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-23 14:44 [p.9053]
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Mr. Speaker, Bill 101 is what is able to protect French in Quebec. It is the only legislation that makes French the language of work throughout Quebec. The federal Official Languages Act does not protect French—it protects bilingualism. It makes French less of an imperative in Quebec.
However, last November, the Prime Minister said that “in order for Canada to be bilingual, Quebec must first and foremost be francophone. That is why we support Bill 101 in what it does for Quebec”.
My question for the Prime Minister is simple. What has changed since November? Why does he suddenly not support Bill 101 anymore?
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View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2021-06-23 14:45 [p.9053]
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Mr. Speaker, that is simply not true. We recognize how important it is to protect the French language in Quebec and for all francophone minority communities across the country if we want Canada to remain a bilingual country.
That is why we have brought forward an official languages reform that protects French and official language minorities across the country. That has always been our concern.
I commend the work that the Government of Quebec is doing to protect French. For our part, the Government of Canada must protect French, not just in Quebec, but across the country. That is what we are doing.
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View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Desilets Profile
2021-06-22 13:24 [p.8964]
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Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate our colleague because he is his party's sole representative across the aisle, in the actual House, of course. There are Liberal members who we will not recognize when the Liberals decide to resume sitting in the House.
My question for my colleague is the following: Concerning child care, can he guarantee that Quebec will obtain the full amount that it is due?
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View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2021-06-22 13:25 [p.8964]
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Mr. Speaker, I do not know. I guess that will come out in the discussions with the provinces. The formula will be set up through negotiating with Quebec and the rest of the provinces, such as Ontario and Alberta, wherever it may be. If we can replicate Quebec's success, I certainly would not want to try to change the program considerably. We know something already works successfully in Quebec, so I agree that we should be looking at that and having those discussions. If the outcome the member is suggesting is determined to be the best course forward, then I suggest that is what we need to do, if it is why Quebec has been so successful at this.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-21 14:37 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, I asked the Minister of Official Languages why she was opposed to the Charter of the French Language applying to all Quebeckers.
Her answer speaks volumes, and I want to quote her directly. “For the first time ever, the federal government is stepping up and protecting the French language.” That is a pretty big admission.
I have a suggestion for the minister. Why would the federal government not, for the first time in history, let Quebec choose its own language regime?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-21 14:38 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, my colleague can keep asking me questions, which I will always be pleased to answer because doing so gives me an opportunity to talk about the government's position.
Basically, we want to protect the French language. We are recognizing new rights: the right to work in French and to be served in French in federally regulated businesses.
My colleague should be happy about that. For years, for decades even, for 30 years to be exact, the Bloc Québécois has been demanding greater protection for French. That is what the Liberal government is doing. Let us celebrate that fact together and get to work.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-21 14:38 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, what the government could do for the first time in history is respect the Charter of the French Language. For the first time in history, the government could recognize that Quebec should be in charge of deciding matters related to the French language in Quebec. For the first time in history, the federal government could fulfill its responsibilities and protect French by allowing Quebec to fulfill its responsibilities and protect French.
Will the Minister of Official Languages respect the will of Quebec for the first time in history?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-21 14:39 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, my colleague must be wondering what place the Bloc Québécois has in the House of Commons. The Bloc Québécois has been calling for greater protection for French for decades.
Our government keeps its promises and protects the French language. Obviously, the Bloc Québécois's objective is to always bicker with the federal government and find points of contention to advance its sovereignist agenda and defend the separatist cause.
However, that is not working, because Quebeckers want us to protect French within a united Canada where we care about their concerns and create opportunities for them.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-21 14:40 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the minister would have us believe, it is not true that the bill she introduced does more to protect French in Quebec. It is full of grandfather clauses and exceptions. It does, however, contain some good things for francophone minority communities, which I applaud her for, because that was needed.
However, for Quebec, this bill is clearly not equivalent to Bill 101. The minister says that she really wants to protect French in Quebec. If that is true, can she justify why her party is the only one that is refusing to support our bill to subject federally regulated businesses to the Charter of the French Language?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-21 14:40 [p.8849]
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Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is fearmongering once again. Basically, if my colleague read the bill we introduced very carefully, she would know that we are willing to recognize the application of the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses that have already signed up and to those who wish to do so and be subject to it.
Now, we want to fill the legal void. We do not want the right to work or to be served in French to be denied. Therefore, we are also creating our own federal approach, which will help strengthen the French language in Quebec, as well as in regions with a strong francophone presence.
This is good news. Let us celebrate together.
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View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
2021-06-18 10:03 [p.8755]
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Madam Speaker, as I was saying, the facts show that Quebeckers cannot count on the federal government to take action against tax havens. There is nothing in budget 2021 to do away with them.
Unfortunately, there are provisions in Bill C‑30 that make it even easier to use tax havens. The federal government is therefore still complicit in tax avoidance schemes, which makes Canada part of the problem and not part of the solution in the fight against tax havens.
In budget 2021, which serves as a springboard for the post-COVID‑19 economic recovery, the federal government offers little or nothing to help small farms get better access to credit. This inability to access credit was one of the most serious problems that farmers encountered during the health crisis. That is unacceptable.
Agriculture is obviously not a priority for the Liberal government, but it is a priority for Quebec and an integral part of our culture. The Liberal government has never been interested in supporting a bill to better protect supply management, which is essential to the survival of the agricultural model. Protecting supply management has always enjoyed broad support within Quebec's agricultural sector, but it is also acknowledged by producers in the other provinces as well as in the United States, which says something.
Why did the Liberal government recently do everything it could to prevent Bill C‑216 being passed in committee? Well, it did pass, and we hope the accelerating pace of the coming days will bring this bill along for the ride. Quebec's agricultural sector is counting on us.
In the Bloc Québécois's view, parliamentary proceedings and debates too often take too long, things do not move fast enough, and people talk even though they have nothing to say. For years, and again this week, members have spoken at length in the House of Commons about various aspects of the housing problem.
Still, there remains a desperate need for housing in Abitibi—Témiscamingue as well as in several other regions of Quebec, and that need is only being made more acute by the communities' sustained efforts to attract workers.
What of the federal government's solutions to this problem? There are none. The federal government has not proposed any. I would, however, like to highlight a local initiative undertaken by the Fondation Martin-Bradley. They organized a radiothon and raised $301,000 to, among other things, build housing for people who are struggling, especially people living with mental health problems.
The Fondation Martin-Bradley got things done. I am thinking especially of Ghislain Beaulieu, and of Jean-Yves Morneau and his son, Jean-François, who organized a fundraiser among the region's entrepreneurs and businesspeople. The amount raised, $301,000, is huge, and I want to salute them. Among other things, the funds will go to finance projects, like for farm outreach workers in Abitibi—Témiscamingue's farming community, for whom psychological support is so essential. I have to say it again: All this stems from the fact that the federal budget does nothing to address the situation.
Legitimate transfer payments to Quebec to encourage housing initiatives are both slow to come and hugely insufficient. Not enough construction is happening, which is having a direct impact on the economic and social development of our regions and Quebec as a whole.
Out of respect for Quebec's jurisdictions, more substantial amounts need to be transferred, especially considering the current context, which includes the significantly higher cost of materials and labour. At the same time, tax incentives for developers would be a way to support and stimulate infrastructure initiatives that offer exciting opportunities for the recovery by building on what has been achieved in our communities, not to mention community-based housing projects that would provide a sustainable solution to this problem.
Finally, why will Ottawa not allocate funding for the regions, with no strings attached, to be administered by Quebec and people on the ground? This would encourage development projects based on specific parameters and priorities linked to specific needs. More than ever, labour shortages are hindering the economic recovery of my region, Abitibi—Témiscamingue. More than ever, the federal government needs to come up with solutions, because we are feeling abandoned right now.
I believe that the particular status of a region like Abitibi—Témiscamingue, which borders Ontario, places it in a certain situation. People back home are moving to the riding of the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing because immigration cases are processed in 12 months in Ontario, whereas in my riding it takes up to 27 months, or even 30 months in certain cases. That is ridiculous.
As I was saying, in Abitibi—Témiscamingue there is a housing shortage coupled with a labour shortage, and therefore it is important to stimulate housing construction. How can we attract and keep skilled workers in Abitibi—Témiscamingue when they are unable to find a home for their families? The federal government must act quickly.
Bill C‑30 also attacks Quebec once more and its securities regulator. That is unacceptable.
How can we ignore one of the federal government's most blatant centralizing moves in recent years, its attempt to bring the financial sector under federal control by making it responsible for insurance, securities, derivatives, deposit taking institutions except for banks and the distribution of financial products and services?
The objective of this Canada-wide securities regulator is another example of the centralization of financial markets by the federal government. It wants Toronto to become a single Canada-wide regulator, which would be contrary to the independent economic development of all the other provinces. This is not just a jurisdictional dispute or a squabble between the federal and provincial governments, it is a battle between Bay Street and Quebec.
I remind members that the Bloc Québécois and Quebec are strongly opposed to this. Four times now, the National Assembly of Quebec has unanimously called on the federal government to abandon that idea. It is no exaggeration to say that everyone in Quebec is against it. Seldom have we seen Quebec's business community come together as one to oppose this very bad idea of the federal government, which just wants to cater to Bay Street.
Let the federal government and Bay Street take note: The Bloc Québécois will always stand in the way of creating a single Canada-wide securities regulator.
Having a financial markets authority is essential to Quebec's development. This is nothing short of an attack on our ability to keep our head offices. Preserving Quebec's distinct economic pillars is essential to our development. We will not let the federal government get away with this.
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View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2021-06-18 10:10 [p.8756]
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Madam Speaker, it is always good to hear members of Parliament talk about housing. However, the interesting issue in this respect is that housing is one of the areas where exclusive jurisdiction has been sought, secured and delivered to Quebec.
If the member's riding is not getting housing money, why is he coming to Ottawa to complain? We have given every single dollar we spend on housing to the Government of Quebec. It distributes the dollars. It sets the priorities. It chooses the projects. It makes the investments.
I realize that the Bloc is here to antagonize the federal government rather than co-operate and work with us, but if the member opposite wants housing in his region, he should be going to Quebec City to get the dollars because that is where we sent them on the request of parties like the Bloc.
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View Sébastien Lemire Profile
BQ (QC)
View Sébastien Lemire Profile
2021-06-18 10:11 [p.8756]
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Madam Speaker, it is plain to see that the parliamentary secretary did not listen to the first part of my speech. I can forgive him to some extent because I gave it at 12:48 a.m. two days ago.
I would say that one of the problems is that it took three years to get these agreements in place. The federal government really dragged its feet on transferring the money to Quebec. Why did the other provinces get their money quickly but not Quebec?
Furthermore, in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, now that housing construction can start, the cost of materials is skyrocketing and these amounts are largely insufficient. I understand that the government did not anticipate COVID‑19, but it has a responsibility to take action on housing.
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View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2021-06-17 14:25 [p.8670]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the House of Commons acknowledged the fact that Quebec constitutes a nation and that French is its only common and official language. It stands to reason, then, that the House of Commons also voted in favour of applying the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses. Indeed, Quebec's demand to be the master of its language policy is consistent with its unique reality as a French-speaking nation.
Yesterday, the House of Commons requested that Bill 101 be applied. Why does the Liberal Party continue to oppose that? It is alone in doing so.
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:26 [p.8670]
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Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that we will continue, along with every Quebecker, every francophone in the country and every Canadian, to protect and promote the French language in Canada.
Why? Because French is a minority language that needs more than just a helping hand; it needs our attention. With our new historic official languages bill, we will further protect the beautiful French language and take steps to recognize new linguistic rights for francophones and linguistic minorities in Canada.
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View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2021-06-17 14:26 [p.8670]
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Mr. Speaker, note that yesterday, when the House almost unanimously agreed that Quebec is a French-speaking nation, 10 Liberals from the greater Montreal area abstained from voting and refused to acknowledge that Quebec considers itself a nation whose official language is French.
I would also point out that, yesterday, the Liberals were the only ones to vote against Quebec applying its Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses.
Are the Liberals obstructing the clear solution that seeks to promote French at work in order to please some of their own, for whom, these—
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:27 [p.8670]
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Mr. Speaker, either my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois want to protect and promote French with the government or they want to push their plan for Quebec's independence and pick a fight with Ottawa. It is up to them, but Quebeckers and Canadians see right through their games.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-17 14:37 [p.8672]
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Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Official Languages keeps repeating that the Charter of the French Language and her bill do the same thing. She says that someone protected by Bill C‑32 has the same rights as someone covered by the Charter of the French Language.
However, when minister Jolin-Barrette says that the Quebec law must apply to everyone, the minister digs in her heels. When the House voted for Quebec's federally regulated businesses to be subject to the Charter of the French Language, she voted against it.
My question is simple: Why did she vote against it if it is the same thing?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:37 [p.8672]
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Mr. Speaker, I think that my colleague should read Bill C‑32. She would get a good answer to her question.
Essentially, 55% of businesses that have already complied with Bill 101 in Quebec will have the right to continue under the same system, and those that have not can decide to do so at that time.
Naturally, we want to protect the right to work in French, the right to be served in French and the right not to be discriminated against for being a francophone in Quebec as well as in regions with a strong francophone presence.
My colleague will also recognize that within federalism, the federal government must have a national role and an approach that protects all francophones. That is the objective—
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-17 14:38 [p.8673]
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Mr. Speaker, our bill says that the Charter of the French Language applies to federally regulated businesses in Quebec. The minister recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation, that Quebec has a single official language and that French is the common language of the Quebec nation. She should therefore be able to understand that, as a francophone nation, Quebec must have a single language regime.
Why is the minister opposed to the Charter of the French Language applying to all Quebeckers?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:39 [p.8673]
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Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, and I can see that our objectives are aligned. We both want to protect the French language in Quebec. Now, we want to protect it across the country too, and we will. We also want to protect linguistic minorities, including francophones outside Quebec and anglophones in Quebec.
My colleague should be happy. For the first time ever, the federal government is stepping up and protecting the French language. That is why I encourage her to vote in favour of Bill C‑32 on official languages.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-17 14:39 [p.8673]
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Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand where the minister stands on the language issue.
There are two systems: One is for the very large majority of Quebeckers, who are protected under the Charter of the French Language. The other is for about 200,000 workers in federally regulated businesses. These are the people Bill C-32 seeks to help.
My question is simple: Between Bill C‑32 and the Charter of the French Language, which one is more effective in protecting the right to work in French?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:40 [p.8673]
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Mr. Speaker, that is not for me to say. The Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and all the unions that represent workers in Quebec are in favour of the bill. We can see that there is a very large consensus in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada to protect these rights.
Therefore, I think the federal government is doing its job and assuming its responsibilities, and the reform we presented is ambitious. It is a robust bill, and I hope the Bloc Québécois will be able to acknowledge this work and, of course, support the bill.
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View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-17 14:53 [p.8675]
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Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when we asked the minister if she thought that her Bill C‑32 would protect French better than Bill 101 in Quebec, she said, and I quote, “Indeed, our remarks involve the entire country. Why? Because that is important. That is how we strengthen our federalism.”
That is great for her federalism, but her bill is supposed to strengthen French in Quebec. Does she realize that she will not strengthen French in Quebec with a single approach that does not accept that French is the only official language of Quebec?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-17 14:53 [p.8675]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my colleague that he is in the House of Commons, which is the legislative assembly of the federal parliament. As such, it is important for us to take care of Quebec and Quebeckers, francophones and anglophones and the French language, the official language of Quebec.
However, it is also important to protect francophones outside Quebec and to give anglophones the opportunity to learn French. That is what makes our country great, what makes it work. If my colleague disagrees—
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View Yves Perron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves Perron Profile
2021-06-16 14:18 [p.8522]
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Today, I want to congratulate the graduates of the various high schools across Quebec.
The very important last years of their journey, when people build bonds and friendships that often last a lifetime, did not go as planned, but humans are resilient. I am sure these students found a way to make the most of the situation. Now they are even better equipped to deal with the struggles of life.
I was a high school teacher for 25 happy, fulfilling years. I mainly taught grade nine, where I had the privilege of shaping the citizens of tomorrow. This June, the last cohort of students that I taught for a full year are graduating. I want to sincerely congratulate them and wish them all the best.
Most of all, I want them to always remember that nothing is impossible and that they should not let anyone convince them otherwise.
Congratulations and all the best.
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-16 14:28 [p.8523]
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Mr. Speaker, the Quebec government is preparing to amend the Charter of the French Language, in tandem with the Quebec National Assembly, obviously. Meanwhile, the federal government is tabling another statement of intent on the Official Languages Act that will never pass, of course.
The federal bill competes and creates a divide between what Canada wants and what Quebec wants. When this is pointed out to the Minister of Official Languages, she says that she simply does not want to talk about it and only wants to work together. However, she is going to have to talk about it.
The question is simple: What takes precedence in promoting and protecting French? The federal legislation or the Quebec National Assembly?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:29 [p.8523]
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Mr. Speaker, I can assure my colleague that the government did not merely issue a statement of intent; it introduced a bill.
We want to pass this bill, and we are asking all opposition parties, including the Bloc Québécois, if they intend to support it or not. Do they want better protection for French in Quebec and across the country? Do they want francophones to have access to linguistic security that will ensure the longevity of the French fact in Quebec as well as in Canada going forward?
No, they want to keep talking separatism and make Quebec a country.
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-16 14:29 [p.8524]
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Mr. Speaker, she certainly understood some things.
The Bloc Québécois wants a legitimate approach to ensuring better protection for French in Quebec. That means putting Quebec's National Assembly in charge. The minister had better not count on our support for her bill to further entrench official bilingualism.
Here is my question. Does she really think that her bill, which has not been passed and therefore remains a statement of intent, will do a better job of protecting French than Quebeckers themselves are doing with the Charter of the French Language?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:30 [p.8524]
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Mr. Speaker, that is what the Bloc Québécois is all about, looking for a fight when our goal is still and always to protect French and to ensure that linguistic minorities across the country are protected.
Indeed, our remarks involve the entire country. Why? Because that is important. That is how we strengthen our federalism and how we are able to ensure that it makes sense across the country, including in Quebec and including francophones. Under the circumstances, our goal will still be to defend the Official Languages Act, to strengthen it and to bring it into the 21st century.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-16 14:40 [p.8526]
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Mr. Speaker, Quebec wants to protect the French language. All that Ottawa could do in its jurisdictions to protect French in Quebec was to let Quebec's Charter of the French Language apply to federally regulated businesses.
However, the minister is doing the opposite with Bill C‑32. She is setting the stage for increased bilingualism by extending the scope of Canada's Official Languages Act. She is creating a jurisdictional squabble instead of helping stop the decline of French.
Why is the minister refusing to do something useful by letting Quebec apply Bill 101?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:40 [p.8526]
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Mr. Speaker, my colleague made reference to a squabble with Quebec. That may be some wishful thinking on her part, but it is certainly not the case.
The reality is that, once again this morning, I had a conversation with my colleague, Simon Jolin-Barrette, and yesterday with Sonia LeBel, and we will certainly come to an agreement. Why is that?
It is because 55% of businesses in Quebec have already chosen to be subject to Bill 101. We will, of course, let them choose whether to continue as is or to be subject to the Official Languages Act.
We are filling a legal void. We want people to have access to services in French in federally regulated businesses and we want people to have the right to work in French at those same businesses.
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View Christine Normandin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-06-16 14:41 [p.8526]
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Mr. Speaker, there is no legal void and Quebec has no plan to rely on Bill C‑32.
Quebec's minister responsible for the French language said, “One thing is for sure: The terms and conditions of Quebec's bill will be the ones that apply in Quebec”.
The federal minister, looking for a fight, responded, “We have jurisdiction over federally regulated businesses.... What do they want to do? Do they want to protect French or do they want to keep arguing?”
The minister clearly chose to keep arguing, because her bill does not protect the French language. It protects bilingualism. Why does the minister not simply let Quebec protect the French language with Bill 101?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:42 [p.8526]
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Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, but I wonder if she actually read the bill.
The bill is clear: It covers the right to work in French, the right to be served in French and, of course, the right not to be discriminated against for being francophone in federally regulated businesses in Quebec and regions with a strong francophone presence.
This is the first time the federal government has taken this step in the right direction. It was time. That is why, as a government, we are proud to have introduced the official languages bill yesterday. It was a historic event.
Will the Bloc Québécois be supporting it, yes or no?
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View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-16 14:55 [p.8529]
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Mr. Speaker, Bill C‑32 invalidates Quebec’s Bill 96 and its intent to apply Bill 101 to federally regulated businesses. Bill C-32 does not force the francization of businesses; it simply tolerates that workers speak in French. Bill C-32 does not recognize French as Quebec’s only official language, nor does it do anything to make up for its threatened minority status. Bill C-32 therefore prevents Quebec from taking charge of its language policy.
Why would Quebec vote for this instead of its own Bill 101?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:56 [p.8529]
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Mr. Speaker, let us stop trying to scare people, as my colleague is doing.
It is not complicated. Bill C-32, an act to amend the Official Languages Act, which we introduced yesterday, requires federally regulated businesses to recognize the right to work in French, the right to be served in French, and the right of francophones not be discriminated against. Basically, these are the same provisions that are in Bill 101 and that have been adapted to a national system that applies to Quebec, as well as to regions with a strong francophone presence.
For businesses that are already compliant with Bill 101, an agreement will be made with the Government of Quebec. For those that are not compliant with Bill 101, it is not complicated; there is no longer a legal void and they will have to comply—
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View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2021-06-16 14:56 [p.8529]
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Mr. Speaker, Quebec wants Bill 101 to apply to federally regulated businesses. Quite simply, this means applying the existing legislation. As a matter of fact, the Bloc Québécois bill does just that.
There is no need for a federal bill dumped on us six days before the end of the session that will not debated or voted on. Our bill will be voted on in half an hour; it is as simple as that.
Will the Minister of Official Languages vote with us to apply Bill 101 in Quebec?
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View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Mélanie Joly Profile
2021-06-16 14:57 [p.8529]
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Mr. Speaker, I remember the debates I had with my colleague, where he kept asking me to strengthen the Official Languages Act, to recognize the specificity of French in Quebec, to recognize that federally regulated businesses have an obligation to work in French and to provide rights, as well as to serve consumers in French.
He should be happy, because this has now been done. The bill has been introduced. Now the question is whether he will he support it. Will the Bloc Québécois support the new version of the Official Languages Act?
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2021-06-16 15:10 [p.8531]
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Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you will find the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:
That the House:
(a) support the unanimous consent motion adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec on June 9, 2021, recognizing primarily that,
(i) the Charter of the French Language explicitly recognizes the right of First Nations and Inuit to maintain and develop their languages and cultures,
(ii) several Indigenous languages are threatened with extinction,
(iii) the 11 Indigenous nations in Quebec have, like the Quebec nation, the right to live in their languages and to promote and protect them,
(iv) the Government of Quebec has a responsibility to assume in this regard; and
(b) call on the federal government to recognize its responsibilities and to deploy more resources to protect and promote Indigenous languages in Quebec and in Canada.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anthony Rota Profile
2021-06-16 15:10 [p.8531]
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All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
I hear no dissent. The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
There being no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:15 [p.8429]
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moved:
That the House agree that section 45 of the Constitution Act, 1982, grants Quebec and the provinces exclusive jurisdiction to amend their respective constitutions and acknowledge the will of Quebec to enshrine in its constitution that Quebeckers form a nation, that French is the only official language of Quebec and that it is also the common language of the Quebec nation.
He said: Mr. Speaker, you have inspired me to read the motion again, as I find it rather poetic.
That the House agree [the use of the word “agree” was no accident] that section 45 of the Constitution Act, 1982, grants Quebec and the provinces exclusive jurisdiction to amend their respective constitutions and acknowledge the will of Quebec to enshrine in its constitution that Quebeckers form a nation, that French is the only official language of Quebec and that it is also the common language of the Quebec nation.
Although it has been 30 years since the Bloc Québécois was created, there are still people in the nation next door who think they need to rewrite their own laws to enshrine French, and only French, as Quebec's official language. This is because, 30 years later, there is still that much to be done, not to mention gaining independence.
Quebec is totally and entirely entitled and justified to tell anyone listening and anyone else, in every forum and soon every forum around the world, that it is a French nation whose only official language is French. I would remind all these fine people that this has been the case since 1974. When I was a boy in short pants French was already the only official language of Quebec. It feels like some members of the House just discovered that the Earth is round, although I am told that a few people here are not so sure. The common language has more weight than the official language. The common language is the one we use when we are walking down the street and we encounter someone we do not know.
The great tragedy of the French language in Quebec is when a young francophone encounters another young francophone at the corner of Peel and Sainte‑Catherine and they carry on in English without understanding the history behind that reality, without understanding what brought them there, without understanding the sometimes uncertain compromises made, the humiliations of history, the strong affirmations and the emergence of an extraordinary culture. Two young francophones speaking to each other in English in the street is the antithesis of recognizing the wonderful contribution of a Leonard Cohen to Quebec culture. What makes us who we are completes us. We can never give up who we are.
Today is a very special day. Some would say that it is rather singular to be celebrating it in this place, but that is where our friendly struggles have brought us. This day will be celebrated in the hearts of the millions of Quebeckers who recognize themselves in our cause. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Bloc Québécois.
In this day and age, it is no longer appropriate to see individuals as being more than human, especially if they are still living. However, I am in a position to speak to, as humbly as possible, the stature of a certain Lucien Bouchard and to assess all that he relinquished, all the courage he showed 30 years ago to create what one day history will call one of the essential tools for making Quebec a full sovereign nation. We have an obligation to be humble, each one of us in this place, in Parliament, online, all the workers, the hardworking men and women here and elsewhere, the supporters, the Quebeckers engaged in this desire to complete a journey that began with the Quiet Revolution.
Although we recognize that we must be humble, we also have the right to show our pride. We are a fine bunch; we are the bunch who cheerfully refuse to disappear. We are those they say will not exist. We are told over and over that the Bloc Québécois is finished, just as we are told over and over that independence is finished. Well, these naysayers keep having to roll up their sleeves because our objective is sound, noble and legitimate.
However, it will never be more and it will never be better than what has been done by those who came before us in Parliament's House of Commons, which, I say with no enmity, will always be foreign to us. If we wish it, it will be temporary.
Today Parliament is going to properly debate a very important motion, not just surreptitiously dispose of it. Quebec is navigating through the maze of documents that were designed to make it wither away. Those same documents indicate that it is time to acknowledge and note down the fact that Quebec is a nation.
Quebec is not a nation within a united Canada. That does not mean anything. Quebec is a whole, entire, thriving, complete, vibrant, beautiful, and up and coming French nation. No other language can even begin to compare to the heritage, beauty, allure and poetry of French. No wonder there was a baby boom in Quebec. These things start with flattering words, and French has much to offer in that regard.
Members were able to refuse the motion that we moved at the end of May with a simple “nay”, but today it will not be so easy. We are pleased to make two observations. First, we think that the motion will be adopted. We will be pleased to accept it because it is very good thing.
Second, without this great group of 32 passionate people, the motion never would have been adopted. It would have never even existed, and Quebec would have never been able to identify with it to this extent. This group decided to make this proposal to Ottawa. It did not want to be received with indifference and actions that would later go against it. This is not a legal approach that we have initiated, not at all. It is also not an approach that involves interpretation, a scope of interpretation or “interpretativity”. It is a political approach. Take it or leave it. It is political.
We are putting this Parliament in a position where it will be forced to effectively take note of the fact that Quebec is affirming that we are a French nation. I would dare say that Parliament should do that in a humble way, which is not something it is often known for.
There will be consequences. The government cannot go on forever hiding behind an assortment of judges who have also been hidden behind a charter that was designed to counter the will of Quebec and the Quebec National Assembly. Beyond all of that, there is the will of elected officials from across Canada and Quebec.
When the time comes to do something, someone will have to show some consistency. The government cannot recognize the French-speaking Quebec nation, take money from Quebeckers and give it to people who want to challenge and oppose the French-speaking Quebec nation. Now, it does happen, and there have been some inconsistencies, but we will expose the people who deserve to be exposed.
I want to say something that might sound a little harsh, but that is not my intention. The government's new, multi-page slogan is called the modernization of the Official Languages Act. I think I can say that this is not something we will be debating here. This bill will not go anywhere. It is essentially a second document filled with statements and hypothetical plans that will only happen if the Liberal government has a minority. We shall see what makes it into the rewritten version if they ever win a majority.
We do not even know what it is all about. It is starting out with private briefings, and we do not know what the Minister of Official Languages plans to include in her bill. We do know that it will apparently recognize French as the official language of Quebec. A round of applause for acknowledging what we all have known for 50 years. People who are better informed than me have reported that it essentially copies what would be in Quebec's hypothetical Bill 96, with respect to making federally regulated companies and institutions subject to the Charter of the French Language.
First of all, the two laws would say the same thing, but the federal law would take precedence. Why? It is because in real life, from the Canadian and federal perspective, Quebec is a vassal state. If we do not agree, I decide. That is what Canada is, even in terms of language, identity, values and culture. That speaks volumes.
We are talking about a government that cannot even hope to pass amendments to the Broadcasting Act, which was thankfully and greatly improved thanks to my friend the member for Drummond's efforts; a government that cannot even get its budget implementation bill passed, when there is probably someone out there shopping for a bus and a couple of planes.
It is quite ironic to see who the government is turning to. It is turning to the leader of the Bloc Québécois to say we are in a peck of trouble, that we are good people, that we still have a lot in common and that we will to work to make it work. These people have come to tell us that they will be deciding how to manage our language, our values, our identity, our culture and our nationhood and that is really nice of them, but no thanks. We are going to do it ourselves.
Now let us talk about timelines. The Minister of Official Languages is going to introduce an official languages bill that would, among other things, seek to replicate what will eventually be prescribed by Bill 96, which amends Quebec's Charter of the French Language to make federal institutions and businesses subject to the Charter of the French Language.
I am a good guy, and I would like to save her the effort. First of all, the parliamentary session of the House of Commons will surely be over before anyone even begins to look at the purely legislative side of things. There is a very good chance that this Parliament will be over too, so it will not happen in the foreseeable future. Let us not hold our breath.
In the meantime, two things will happen. First, in all likelihood this fall, the Quebec National Assembly will vote on what will, depending on the will of the elected representatives of the Quebec National Assembly alone, become Bill 96, and the Charter of the French Language in Quebec will henceforth apply to institutions and businesses under federal jurisdiction. The fall seems a bit far off, so we are going to move faster than that.
Tomorrow, the bill introduced by my esteemed colleague from Beauport—Limoilou, which would subject federal institutions and businesses in Quebec to the Charter of the French Language, will be put to a vote in the House of Commons. We are going to save a lot of time, avoid a ton of double-dealing and vote on this bill tomorrow. It will be done. We will be able to say thank you, goodbye. It will be dealt with, and we will be able to move on to another issue.
The House will have an opportunity tomorrow to move forward with a bill that would make federally regulated institutions and businesses subject to the Charter of the French Language, as called for by the Quebec National Assembly. Is that not wonderful?
Why not make the most of this opportunity? I must admit that it would have the disadvantage of stealing a bit of our thunder in terms of scoring political points in the run-up to the election. That is a bit of a shame, but it should not be the priority.
It is also important to point out that before anyone spoke French in New France, English on the shores of the United States, or Spanish on the southern islands or in Louisiana, North and South America were home to dozens and dozens of nations, each of them no less a nation than ours are today. They have their own histories, languages and cultures. That is always worth mentioning. We wanted to amend the motion to that effect, and some members from other parties suggested it, but others were not willing to let us do so.
When we have our great debates that, let us face it, pit French against English, we do not always mention it, but we should always give indigenous languages—I hate to say a specific status, because that term is so misused, but a factual, institutional and friendly respect that shelters them from all our debates that, from the perspective of these great cultures, only just arrived on their continent.
Before I conclude, I would like to encourage the minister to do something useful with the Official Languages Act. Some might interpret that to mean that I am implying she is addressing things that are not useful and, well, they are right. Quebec does not need anyone at any time to tell it how to promote and protect its language, culture, arts, identity and values. What it badly needs is for those who are not involved to mind their own business and keep their noses out of ours.
Instead, those resources should be invested, willingly, happily and generously, to support Acadian communities and francophone communities outside Quebec, which need them badly. No doubt people will tell us that anglophones in Quebec also badly need to be protected. I say this without malice. I confess I do not get up in the morning worrying about the survival of the English language in Quebec. I think it is doing quite well, and I am happy for it. The day Canada treats its French and Acadian minorities as well, as generously, and as warmly as Quebec has historically treated its English minority, the debate will be quite different. God knows we are not there yet.
Whatever Quebeckers decide to do with their nation, their state, their language, their culture, their values and their history, the result will be a resolutely French nation. I say this both in friendship and as a bit of a warning: No one is going to stand in Quebec's way. No one will succeed. The joyous, dynamic, festive, colourful, culinary and musical resilience of Quebeckers is unstoppable. As history will show, today will be a milestone in the protection of this nation, which will one day be called upon once more to take its destiny in its own hands, and the sooner the better.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-06-15 10:35 [p.8431]
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Madam Speaker, I listened very closely to what the leader of the Bloc had to say and I really believe that he underestimates or undervalues the passion that people have for Quebec. I am thinking in particular of the Prairies, where many people, including me, have a very strong love for the province. We want Quebec to retain its heritage. The French language is a beautiful language.
I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts in regard to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have a passion for the province of Quebec and who want Quebec to retain French as its common language.
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:36 [p.8431]
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Madam Speaker, who could forget the extraordinary outpouring of deep love from Canada just before the 1995 referendum, when tens of thousands of Canadians violated all the rules of democracy? It was a scam of historic proportions, during which the streets of Quebec were inundated with Canadian flags and declarations of love that vanished just as quickly as they had appeared. I for one have not forgotten.
I invite the member to pose his question about love for the French language out west, to the Métis.
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View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
2021-06-15 10:37 [p.8431]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the Bloc Québécois for his speech and his motion.
We are talking about a motion to recognize that Quebec has the jurisdiction to amend its section of the Constitution to state that Quebeckers form a nation, which is recognized by the House of Commons and by the NDP in its platform, and that French is the only official language of Quebec. As my colleague pointed out, this has been the case since 1974, when Robert Bourassa was premier. These are all indisputable facts. In addition, this motion is non-binding.
What is the point of tabling a motion on something that everyone agrees on?
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:38 [p.8431]
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Madam Speaker, I am a little excited. I presume that, from now on, everyone in the House will agree when the Bloc Québécois puts forth proposals asserting Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction, not only in the areas of language, culture, art and who we are, but in everything concerning the Quebec nation, including certain exclusive jurisdictions.
Take pharmacare or dental care, which there is somewhat of a tendency to want to centralize. In this context, not all NDP members read the Sherbrooke declaration closely. Still, we will let bygones be bygones. We will see what happens in future votes.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2021-06-15 10:39 [p.8431]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the Bloc Québécois.
I would also like to congratulate the Bloc on its anniversary. I had the honour of working with Lucien Bouchard when he was the federal environment minister. In my opinion, he is still the best environment minister Canada ever had.
I would like to say that the Green Party totally agrees with the need to protect the French language and Quebec culture for Quebeckers and for everyone across Canada who benefits from that extraordinary culture.
However, I have a problem. I studied law and constitutional law when I was younger, so I understand the Canadian Constitution. I do not see any problems with the aim of Bill 96, but if any other members of the House have any articles by experts, I would appreciate it if they could share them with us, because I cannot get any further in my research. I think that it is ultra vires of the province to make a change to the Canadian Constitution.
In my opinion, it is a—
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:40 [p.8432]
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Madam Speaker, debate is a healthy exercise in politics. Reflection is also a healthy exercise.
Let us say that more than 330 out of 338 members of Parliament agree on a motion; I think it is fairly safe to assume that when it is 30:1, it is not the 29 who are wrong.
Out of respect and the affection that everyone is so keen to express toward the Quebec nation, I invite the hon. member to reconsider and to acknowledge that French is in a unique position in Quebec, but it goes far beyond that. It is a question of recognizing a nation; despite the fact that it was conquered, it remains, resolutely and obstinately—and Lord knows we are obstinate—a nation.
Mr. Bouchard was without a doubt a great environment minister. In our 30-year or 60-year history, we had René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau, Pauline Marois, Bernard Landry and many other great politicians. We also had Gilles Duceppe, my friend and predecessor. It is true that Lucien Bouchard was a great environment minister but, more than that, he was a great sovereignist leader.
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View Philip Lawrence Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
Does the leader of the Bloc believe that the ability to amend the Constitution affects all provinces or just Quebec?
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:43 [p.8432]
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Madam Speaker, I wish everyone the same happiness I wish for us.
I think that, in theory, beyond the intricacies of the Charlottetown accord, had the exercise been more sincere and taken more seriously, we would have had a confederation of autonomous territories and, unlike what we see every day now, the provinces would not be creatures of Ottawa, but the other way round. That would have required going against the grain and showing a bit of humility, but, as a result, every person, every community, every people and, especially, every nation claiming the right to self-determination—this includes francophone communities outside Quebec and the Acadian nation, which I love—will always have my personal support, as well as that of the Bloc Québécois.
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View Martin Champoux Profile
BQ (QC)
View Martin Champoux Profile
2021-06-15 10:44 [p.8432]
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Madam Speaker, at one point or another, we have all seen unflattering and unhelpful remarks in social media, but there is something we, and especially my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, see a lot. It is called Quebec bashing. In fact, it is a national sport for some, which consists in knocking Quebec indiscriminately.
I would like to thank my leader for his speech. It was inspirational as always.
Does he think that the fact that the House of Commons recognizes Quebec as a nation whose common and only official language is French could help educate and influence Canadians in the right direction, which would make relations between our two nations even more pleasant and cordial?
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View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
2021-06-15 10:44 [p.8432]
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Madam Speaker, a little earlier, I mentioned two young francophones who were speaking English to each other on the corner of Peel and St. Catherine. I dream of two young people from anywhere in the world meeting on a street corner in Rimouski and greeting each other in French.
When this happens, when it becomes normal and an everyday occurrence, when Quebec is fully accepted for what it is, we will be a wonderful neighbour to Canada, and we will do so much together, more than with anyone else. Social media will no longer have a reason to bash us.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2021-06-15 10:45 [p.8432]
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Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Mont‑Royal.
I am very pleased to be participating in today's debate. It is in a way the continuation of a debate held in the House in 2006 when I was a young member of Parliament. Well, at least I was a little younger than I am now, and my hair was not quite so white. It was an important debate for me because we were preparing to vote in favour of recognizing the Quebec nation. Obviously, I voted in favour of the motion because, in my opinion, it is a simple fact.
We had had an extremely interesting debate, and I remember very clearly that the vast majority of the members present voted in favour of the motion recognizing that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada.
My former colleague Stéphane Dion aptly summarized the conclusion of the debate. He said, “we all agree on what is basic in this, which is, for those who are Quebeckers, that we are proud to be Quebeckers and Canadians, and that other Canadians are proud to have Quebec as part of their country.” As a result, the debate in the House of Commons on the recognition that Quebeckers form a nation within a united Canada was held and settled in 2006.
The Bloc Québécois may not like what I am about to say, because they would prefer an argument. We clearly recognize that French is the official language of Quebec. I will say it again: French is the official language of Quebec. We also recognize the key role that Bill 101, or the Charter of the French Language, has played in preserving and strengthening the French language in Quebec. I have always supported Bill 101. Since we wish to modernize the Official Languages Act, we understand and respect the Quebec government's desire to do the same with the Charter of the French Language.
With respect to Quebec's desire to enshrine this symbolic recognition in the province's constitution, I think I can safely say that Quebec has a certain amount of leeway that allows it to make changes, provided it is clearly stated that the suggested amendments cannot directly or indirectly modify the scope of the provisions of the Canadian Constitution. We all agree on that.
In other words, it must be stated that the Quebec government's bill does not erode other laws that protect the language rights of the English-speaking community in Quebec. Obviously, there will be several debates in Quebec's National Assembly and throughout Quebec on this very important topic. I will follow these debates with a great deal of interest.
Although it is true that symbols are important, it is also true that actions are even more important. Actions speak louder than words. The government has signalled its intention to take action to counter the decline of French across the country. In fact, our ambitions are not limited to countering the decline of French. We want to take action to encourage people to learn and use French and to foster the development of francophone communities across the country.
In the throne speech and budget 2021, we clearly stated that we are responsible for protecting and promoting the French language, not only outside Quebec, but in Quebec as well, while continuing to fully respect the rights of the English-speaking minority.
The reason I am talking about the need to protect French in Quebec is that French is in decline even in Quebec, especially in the greater Montreal area. That decline can sometimes be seen in the way people are greeted in shops and restaurants. It can be seen on some signs and heard on the street and on the radio. It can be seen in the statistics on the decline of French and rise of English, particularly in both public- and private-sector workplaces.
As a Quebecker and a Canadian, I am very concerned about the decline of French, and so is the government. I know that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Official Languages are especially concerned. Every member of the House who wants to protect a fundamental trait of our country, namely the existence of two official languages, should be concerned. Allow me to make it clear that the federal government wants to protect and promote French.
That desire to act on all fronts is written in black and white in the bill that my colleague, the Minister of Official Languages, tabled in the House. The federal government will protect French by taking action in federally regulated sectors, which include banks and communications and transportation companies. All federally regulated employers, of which there are about 18,000, will have linguistic obligations, not only in Quebec, but also in regions with a strong francophone presence outside Quebec.
Drawing inspiration from the Charter of the French Language, we will pass laws on the right to be served and to work in French in federally regulated private businesses in Quebec and in regions with a strong francophone presence across Canada. That is a significant step. We will be creating language-of-work and language-of-service rights that will foster the use of French in Quebec and across Canada. We are doing this because we recognize that we need to do more to support French and to achieve real equality between the two official languages.
To quote Aristotle, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” Facts are facts, and the fact is that French is not equal to English in our country and even less so in North America. As noted in the throne speech, Canada's approximately eight million francophones are surrounded by an ocean of more than 360 million primarily anglophone inhabitants of North America. As such, it is our responsibility to take action in areas within our purview to protect that minority and ourselves.
I want to stress that the reform we are proposing would in no way curtail the rights of Quebec's anglophone minority. I do not think the Bloc Québécois or anyone else wants that. However, we do know that if the French language is to continue to thrive in Quebec—and this is even more so the case outside Quebec—precise, vigorous and ambitious measures must be instituted immediately. That is what we will do, and we will also be working on a number of fronts. For instance, we will lean on cultural institutions such as Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board of Canada, and CBC/Radio-Canada, requiring them to support French-language content.
We will adopt measures to promote francophone immigration to try to counter the very worrisome trend of declining francophone demographics in the country. We will increase French-language learning opportunities for all Canadians. We will make it official policy to appoint bilingual justices to the Supreme Court of Canada, a move the Conservatives oppose, for some reason. We will strengthen some of the powers of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and much more.
The reason I mentioned jurisdiction earlier is that, as the Liberal party's Quebec's lieutenant, it is fundamental to me. Jurisdictions must be respected and that is why, whether it is the right to work in French in federally regulated businesses or the right to be informed and served in French by those same businesses, we are clearly acting within our jurisdictions. Not only are we acting clearly, but we will act clearly in our areas of jurisdiction.
At the same time, this measure we have included in our bill to modernize the Official Languages Act affords us a prime opportunity to work closely with the Quebec government. If we want the new federal system to coexist with the French-language requirements, we need to work together and we want to. That is what underpins what we are doing and that is what is written into the bill. That is also the spirit of the bill, this willingness to work with Quebec to strengthen and promote French, the language that I cherish, that we cherish and that is so beautiful. We must do more to protect it, to share it and to strengthen it.
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View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
View Louise Chabot Profile
2021-06-15 10:55 [p.8434]
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Madam Speaker, one evening during this parliamentary session when the report on the decline of French in Quebec was published, I thought I heard members saying how much they loved French. I get the same impression from the speech that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons just gave.
In Quebec, we cherish and cultivate French. It is something that we are proud of because it is a key component of living together. Why is the federal government giving this so much attention and taking so many precautions rather than letting us govern our French language with our charter? Why did the federal government contribute to the decline of this beautiful common language in Quebec—
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
2021-06-15 10:56 [p.8434]
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Madam Speaker, from the outset, I want to say that the Bloc Québécois does not have a monopoly on loving Quebec and the French language.
French is in my blood. It is in my veins. It is something essential for me and for the government.
With regard to the right to work or be served in French, we are going to take action in areas under our own jurisdiction. Limiting the debate on strengthening French to that means limiting the scope of the debate. We need to invest in our culture, in French-speaking immigration and so on. The government is going to do that.
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