Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speeches of every one of my colleagues.
To my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie, who suggested protecting French in Quebec by using the Canada Labour Code to give workers the right to file a complaint every time an employer did not comply with Bill 101, I would say that this idea is just a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is not a bad idea, but it will only tie up the union processes that he is quite familiar with, without really fixing the root problem since, despite the complaints, the employer would not feel obligated in the least to use the common and official language of Quebec, French, to communicate with its employees.
To my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, who is in favour of the bill, but surprised to be debating it in the House of Commons since it falls under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, I would say that the refusal by federally regulated businesses to comply with the Charter of the French Language, the argument being that federally regulated businesses do not need to follow Quebec laws, justifies in itself that we are forced to legislate in the House of Commons to ensure that businesses respect Quebec, their own employees and the French language.
To my colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, who does not see the point of the bill considering the white paper on official languages, I would say that protecting bilingualism will not allow federally regulated businesses to ignore the Charter of the French Language and the common language of Quebec. Even members of the government get around the requirement to offer information sessions and webinars in both official languages by sending invitations through from their parliamentary email account, which is their privilege, rather than using their ministerial email, which would require them to offer translation. Even in the House, asserting the same rights as anglophones can be complicated, and so can filing complaints.
Some would have me believe that Canada will successfully impose on companies located in Quebec what it does not impose on itself. The word that comes to mind is “nonsense”. You would have to be crazy not to understand that Canada wants francophones and Quebeckers to shut up and embrace bilingualism.
To my colleague from Sherbrooke, who says that provincial laws alone are not strong enough and federal laws are absolutely required, besides the fact that this is a paternalistic attitude that I do not like any more than first nations do, I could respond with various examples demonstrating that Quebec laws have more teeth than federal laws. For example, Quebec's environment, labour and consumer protection laws are much more stringent. If federal protections were so strong, a CN employee would not have been fighting in court since 2015 to have his right to work in French acknowledged. If federal protections were so strong, parents would not have had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain equal rights to education in French. There are many examples. I have others. The Official Languages Commissioner says that the public service does not have an inclusive organizational structure in terms of the use of the official languages, and French often becomes the language of translation.
Protecting French here and elsewhere in Canada is important. Bill C-254 does not go against the official languages reform. It completes it and strengthens Quebec, which could be a beacon for all francophone communities.