Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First I want to say to you, Mr. Godin and all of you here today, that you can count on unwavering support from the Bloc Québécois in this battle that you are so honourably waging.
Language is a question of identity. The reason why I think that your bill must be supported and that it should have seen the light of day two or three decades ago, or even when the Supreme Court was established, is that it is not true that one can learn a language late in life. A justice in the Supreme Court is under extraordinary pressure, you can imagine that.
I do not think that if we do not send out a signal very soon saying that all those who aspire to careers as judges, right up to the highest echelons, must know French...
I was present at that committee—Mr. Comartin was there too as well as other members from the party in power, I believe—when we questioned Mr. Rothstein, whose expertise in the legal matters cannot be challenged. He did not know French. I asked him a question as a francophone who is interested in these issues. Even if the Supreme Court does not hear as many civil law causes as it hears common law cases, it seemed inconceivable to me that someone could be a Supreme Court justice and not know French. Therefore, I asked him if he would take on the obligation of learning French. He said that he would. Without questioning his good faith and without dragging him before the Supreme Court for perjury or for misleading information, I would be curious to know, at this time, how far he has gotten with carrying out this obligation to be fluent in French.
The merit of Mr. Godin's bill is that we must—and I hope that all the parties in the House will support it—in law faculties next year, let it be known that anyone who wants to become a justice in the higher courts, must be fluent in both languages, and know French.
It is an absolute illusion to think that if this obligation is not enshrined in law, large numbers of legal professionals will recognize that they have such an obligation.
You have our unflinching support. In life, there are times when we need to convince and there are times when we need to constrain. Your bill must be a constraining bill? I would be very disappointed if the House did not support you unanimously, for as a francophone, you have a right to expect that.
And let me ask, Mr. Godin or any other person who would like to answer, what are the arguments of those who oppose your bill. I cannot imagine that this House will not be unanimous on a bill like this one.