Bill C-232 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages)
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session and the 40th Parliament, 1st Session.
Yvon Godin NDP
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Senate Reform Act
November 22nd, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.
Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON
Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be speaking to the Senate reform bill.
First, let me say that I am very disappointed that the government has put up no speakers. I wonder just how important this bill is to the Conservatives if they have nothing to say.
As members know, New Democrats have long advocated for abolishing the Senate. This has been our position since the 1930s. Very recent polling shows that Canadians are open to having a closer examination of the value of the Senate in the 21st century and that we should carefully look at Senate abolition because it is achievable and it is a balanced solution.
The NDP believes that the Senate is a 19th century institution, an anachronism that is unnecessary in a modern 21st century democracy like Canada's. Senators only sit 90 days of the year and they cost taxpayers over $90 million annually. The Muskoka minister's $50 million pales in comparison. Democracies such as Denmark and New Zealand have long since eliminated their outdated senates. This decision was also undertaken many years ago by our own provincial governments. There are many who support the NDP position, including the premiers of several provinces.
For example, the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, stated in May of this year:
I support abolishing the Senate. I don't think the Senate plays a useful role. I think that they've outlived their usefulness to our country.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty echoed Ms. Clark's comments:
We think the simplest thing to do is abolish it, and I think, frankly, to reform it in any substantive way is just not possible. We have one elected accountable body that sits in Ottawa for us in the House of Commons. I just don't think we need a second, unelected, unaccountable body.
Even Conservative-friendly premiers condemn the Prime Minister's recent patronage appointments.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said, “It takes away momentum for change at the provincial level and it will probably increase calls that we hear from time to time saying, 'Do we really need this institution?'”
The Senate has become a repository of failed candidates, party fundraisers and professional organizers. These taxpayer subsidized Conservative senators even torpedo legislation passed by the elected members of Parliament. We are talking about bills passed by elected and accountable members of Parliament, such as the late Jack Layton's private member's bill to ensure action on climate change. Also, there was the member for Ottawa Centre's private member's bill to provide affordable AIDS drugs to those suffering in Africa. Both bills were killed by the Senate.
Both of these bills were extremely important and valuable not only to Canadians, but to people around the world. These bills were an opportunity for Canada to shine on the international stage, but the unelected Senate trashed them and left Canadians wondering what on earth has happened to our democracy.
New Democrats would like to abolish the Senate.
In addition to what has already been discussed, this bill has some other problems. It restricts all senators appointed to the Senate after October 14, 2008 to a single, non-renewable nine-year term. Senators would never have to be accountable for campaign promises they made because they would not have to keep them, or for any of the actions that they had taken while in office.
Provinces and territories are given the opportunity to hold elections if they choose. These elections are at the cost of the provinces. The prime minister can then decide if she or he wishes to appoint the senators, but there is absolutely nothing holding the prime minister to appointing anyone who has been elected.
Several provinces have indicated that they have no intention of holding Senate elections. The Province of Quebec has been perfectly clear and called the legislation unconstitutional and said Quebec will launch a provincial court appeal if the bill proceeds without the consultation of the provinces.
The Conservatives and the Liberals seem intent on maintaining an antiquated institution that they have increasingly used for partisan purposes.
New Democrats understand that the Senate is unnecessary and does not serve to further our democracy in any way at all. We will continue our call for a referendum on the abolition of the Senate. In the meantime, we will work hard to expose the dangers that the Conservative agenda on Senate reform pose to the very fabric of our democracy.
Six years ago when the Prime Minister was opposition leader, he knew there was something wrong with an unelected Senate. He thought it was unfair. He called it undemocratic. He also said an appointed Senate, a relic of the 19th century, was what we had. He did not like how the prime minister holds a virtual free hand in the selection of senators. He promised that if he ever got the chance to be the prime minister, he would not name appointed people to the Senate. He insisted that anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people he or she represents.
However, the Prime Minister has turned his back on those democratic principles. Instead of solving the problem, he is becoming the problem. The Prime Minister now holds the all-time record for appointing the most significant number of senators in one day. Who are his appointees? The Conservative Party faithful: spin doctors, fundraisers, bagmen, insiders, people such as his former press secretary, his former Conservative Party president, his former national campaign director through two elections, and let us not forget the several defeated Conservative candidates who were rejected by the voters.
The Prime Minister has broken his promise to do politics differently. Not only does he play the same old politics, he plays them better than anyone else, and I mean that in a very negative way.
Last fall the Conservative-dominated Senate was used to veto legislation the Prime Minister simply did not like.
The climate change accountability bill was Canada's only federal climate change legislation. It passed twice in a minority parliament. It was good, solid legislation supported by a majority of elected MPs, legislation embodying the direction Canadians want to take. On November 16, 2010, the Senate defeated Bill C-311 at second reading. There was no committee review or witness hearings. Canada's only legislative effort to fight climate change was gone, killed by the unelected friends of the Prime Minister.
Now unelected Senators seem poised to do the same thing to the NDP labour critic's bill requiring Supreme Court judges to understand both official languages. Former Bill C-232 was duly passed by elected MPs in the previous Parliament, and is now Bill C-208.
Just because someone flipped pancakes for the Conservative Party of Canada does not give that individual the right to override the wishes of elected MPs.
Too often today's Senate is doing partisan work for public money. Speaking of money, Canadians are paying more and more for a discredited institution that does less and less at a time when people are dealing with a slow economic recovery, and the Conservative government is contemplating billions in cutbacks.
Maintaining the Senate costs Canadians around $90 million a year. While folks are looking for jobs and trying to make ends meet when their EI runs out, or scraping by on pensions that do not even cover basic necessities, senators are earning $132,300 a year for a three-day work week. Add in travel and expenses and each senator is costing us about $859,000 a year, all for an institution that will not play any relevant role in the lives of most Canadians.
I can think of a lot of things that do matter to people, such as creating family-supporting jobs, improving public health care, and building decent futures for our kids. Lining the pockets of party insiders just is not high on my or anyone's list.
Business of the House
March 24th, 2011 / 3:10 p.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Mr. Speaker, perhaps you could seek the unanimous consent of the House of Commons to send a message to the Senate asking it to immediately pass Bill C-232, requiring Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. This bill was the first to make it to the Senate and it has been rejected by the Conservatives.
March 10th, 2011 / 7:15 p.m.
Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary may better understand this point of Bill C-232, which would require Supreme Court justices to be bilingual. Graham Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages, had this to say:
Every Canadian's right to use English or French in Canadian courts is one of the basic language rights set out in our constitutional framework.
Perhaps he should re-examine the reality of what he is attacking by not accepting the principle that Supreme Court justices must be bilingual.
Thus, the Reform Conservative government must stop blocking passage of Bill C-232 by the Senate out of concern for democracy.
March 10th, 2011 / 7:10 p.m.
Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC
Mr. Speaker, the Reform Conservatives now have control of the Senate. They are further sabotaging democracy by, among other things, obstructing the passing of Bill C-232, which simply asks that Supreme Court justices be bilingual.
The Bloc Québécois supports the principle of Bill C-232, which provides that Supreme Court judges should be bilingual and capable of hearing cases without the assistance of an interpreter. We are asking for this out of respect for Quebeckers, as well as all Acadians and all francophone Canadians. We are also doing so because the Official Languages Act provides that English and French have equality of status and use, and because the French and English versions of federal acts have equal value and one is not considered a translation of the other.
The right of any citizen to use French or English before Canada's courts is a fundamental linguistic right. The Official Languages Act already recognizes the importance of being understood without the assistance of an interpreter before federal tribunals such as the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.
It is also because of the problems that come with simultaneous interpretation, which does not allow enough reaction time to interrupt and ask questions, for the judge, the lawyers or even the litigants, who have the right to grasp all the nuances and subtleties of each respective language.
With regard to the principle behind bilingual Supreme Court justices, it is important to note that on May 21, 2008, the members of the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed the following motion:
That the National Assembly of Québec affirm that French language proficiency is a prerequisite and essential condition for the appointment of Supreme Court of Canada judges.
The Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, said: “Knowledge of French is important, very important. It is not a choice. And the message we are sending today to the federal government is that it is not optional”.
To know a language is to know a culture, a reality. And those who are called on to interpret that reality and make decisions that will have a very important impact on our lives have to know that reality through our language.
That is what Premier Jean Charest of Quebec said.
The Premier of Quebec is also of the opinion that “open federalism must ensure that judges appointed to the Supreme Court by Ottawa know Canada's two official languages”.
The Standing Committee on Official Languages also looked at the issue of comprehension of the two official languages by Supreme Court judges. In its fourth report, tabled in May 2008, it “recommends that the government ensure that the judges that they appoint to the Supreme Court are bilingual”.
Statements By Members
March 10th, 2011 / 2 p.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Mr. Speaker, usually we would celebrate International Day of La Francophonie on March 20. Unfortunately, the Canadian Francophonie does not have a lot to celebrate.
Since it came to power, the Conservative government has been determined to restructure our public service. And it is doing so without any concern for the impact these changes will have on official language communities. The Conservative government has wreaked havoc on Service Canada and is leading us in the wrong direction.
How can the Conservative government designate the Atlantic administrative region as unilingual when it includes the only officially bilingual province in Canada and when more than 450,000 people in Atlantic Canada speak French?
We see the Conservatives blocking Bill C-232 in the Senate. Yet it was democratically passed by the elected representatives in Parliament. The Conservatives are against the idea of bilingual Supreme Court justices, which means that the communities are being denied fairer treatment.
Language rights must be protected and respected, period.
I would like to thank the francophone and anglophone organizations that fight to ensure that the official languages are respected.
Opposition Motion—Representation in Parliament
Business of Supply
March 3rd, 2011 / 4:40 p.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the opposition motion moved in the House of Commons by the NDP and to discuss the proposal to hold a referendum on abolishing the Senate. The question would be clear and precise: do Canadians want a Senate?
Earlier, my Conservative colleague said it was not feasible because we would have to reopen the Constitution. The Constitution was established some time ago. In a democracy, people evolve and change over the years. The Constitution was written in 1982, but people have changed since then, which is only natural. Parliament exists because democracy evolves. Every day, we debate certain bills and change Canadian laws because we are evolving and we need new laws adapted to the new changes in our country. The same is true for the Constitution.
Tomorrow morning, there could be a referendum in Canada and the majority of Canadians might vote in favour of abolishing the Senate. Earlier my Conservative colleague was saying that the provinces should agree. In my opinion, that would put a great deal of pressure on the provinces and the provincial governments.
Will we continue to hang on to an unelected Senate even if the citizens no longer want it? Canadians no longer want senators to be appointed by political parties and by the Prime Minister to please his political party. For example, when the current Prime Minister of Canada was in opposition, and even when he had formed the government but felt that the opposition had a majority in the Senate, he said that the Senate should never meddle in bills introduced by the government or the House of Commons.
This same Prime Minister has a majority in the upper chamber, in the Senate, and senators follow his instructions to the letter when elected members pass bills in the House of Commons.
In a minority government, although a majority of members of Parliament have voted for the bills, the Conservative senators in the other place turn around and listen to what the Prime Minister tells them.
Earlier, one of our Conservative colleagues said that Alberta senators are independent because the nominees are elected. Another hon. member asked earlier why they have a whip and a house leader if they are independent. What is the whip's job? I am certain that everyone knows the answer: to make them toe the party line.
There are two parties in the Senate—the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party—and two whips. There are party lines. When the Liberals had a majority in the Senate, the Prime Minister was distraught because he said he had formed the government and Parliament had passed bills, but that they were blocked in the Senate. Today, he is doing the same thing. Even worse, the Conservatives are abusing their power by appointing friends. The Prime Minister was against this way of appointing senators. He was against it.
This Prime Minister appointed Doug Finley, the Conservative national campaign manager; Irving Gerstein, the top Conservative fundraiser and chair of Conservative Fund Canada; Judith Seidman, the Quebec co-chair of the Prime Minister's leadership campaign; and Don Plett, president of the Conservative Party of Canada.
These are political appointments of the most extreme sort. Is that democracy? We send our young people to fight abroad so that other countries will have access to democracy and enjoy the right to vote, and so that laws will be passed by elected officials who are accountable to the people.
We are doing worse than that here in Canada. We do not have that kind of democracy. We pass bills in the House of Commons. Our rights are being violated. I was elected by the people of Acadie—Bathurst. I represent the majority of people in that riding and my rights are being violated. In fact, as soon as a bill leaves the House of Commons for the Senate, the Prime Minister issues an order that prevents the bill from being passed. Is that democracy?
Are we waiting for people to take to the streets to reclaim their democracy the way they are doing in Egypt and Libya? Canadians have elected MPs and those are the people that should be making the laws in Canada. But that is not what is happening. A group of friends was appointed to the Senate. Provincial premiers who lost their elections are appointed to the Senate as compensation. With all due respect, we saw this happen in New Brunswick. When Premier Hatfield lost the election in New Brunswick, he was appointed to the Senate. Political rewards are given to people who lose elections. People are thrown out of office by a democratic vote and the government turns around and sends them to the Senate until they are 75 years old. It is shameful.
Not very long ago, here in the House of Commons, we passed Bill C-311 on the environment. The Senate did not even review it. The Conservatives did not even debate the bill. They voted it down. Oh, but it is all right: it was an NDP bill. It was a fine thing to do. It did not make any sense.
That was the beginning of the end of democracy. The bill was not even debated.
Senators come to us and tell us we have to keep them there even though they have not been elected. They say that they are completely independent since the Prime Minister cannot remove them from their jobs until they are 75. They call themselves protectors of the regions and minorities and say they will ensure that politics do not interfere with what is good for the country. They will protect minorities and all that. But now they are going after minorities.
Like it or not, my Bill C-232 concerning judges in the Supreme Court was debated by the members in the House of Commons, and it was passed by a majority. That is democracy. However, the unelected senators have been sitting on their butts since April 2010 and refuse to even address the bill. The Senate has always fought to say that it would protect minorities and the regions, that it could study bills and if there were any errors, it could send the bills back with new ideas that it had added. It is improper for the Senate to reject bills from the House, especially if there is a minority government in power.
We did not see this problem in the past because we have had majority governments and the Senate typically had the same majority as the House, under the same government. So there were never issues between Senate decisions and those of the House. But now that there is a minority government, now that the majority of members are against the government, we are seeing all the little things that can go wrong. Now we see the dirty politics. That is what I call it.
If the Conservatives really believed in democracy, if they really believed in what they were saying, they would consult Canadians and ask them.
A survey was done in my riding. There were three questions: do you want to abolish the Senate; do you want the Senate to remain as-is; or do you want to modify it? Few people responded. Out of 89 people, 75 said that they wanted to abolish and get rid of the Senate, and 7 said that they wanted to modify it. No one wanted to leave it the way it is. I would be very happy to see a referendum and let Canadians say what they want to do about the Senate. I have no doubt that it would give us a starting point to work towards changing the Constitution, doing good things for democracy in our country and honouring our country so that we can be proud of what it represents in the world.
Opposition Motion--Representation in Parliament
Business of Supply
March 3rd, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.
Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the Bloc Québécois critic for democratic reform to speak to the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. The NDP member's motion contains many elements, including the holding of a referendum on the question of amending the Referendum Act in order to abolish the existing Senate and to appoint a special committee for democratic improvement made up of 12 members. The motion also defines how the special committee would operate. Today I would like to focus on point (a), which is the most important and which reads as follows:
the House recognize the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in the Parliament of Canada, specifically the unnecessary Senate and a House of Commons that does not accurately reflect the political preferences of Canadians;
I would like to examine this point from two angles: the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in Parliament, specifically the House of Commons, and the unnecessary nature of the Senate. In that regard, we quite agree with the NDP.
Bills on democratic reform have been coming up over and over again for the past few sessions. This time around, we have Bill C-12, which aims to change the formula for calculating the number of members per province to increase the total number of members to 338. The distribution of new seats would be as follows: five more for Alberta, seven for British Columbia and 18 for Ontario. That would give us a total of 338 members, compared to the 308 we have now. This bill, if passed, would have a direct impact on Quebec's weight in the House of Commons, which would drop from 24.3% to 22.19%. Quebec would be even more marginalized compared to its current weight in the House.
It is of the utmost importance to maintain Quebec's weight in the House because Quebec is the only majority francophone state in North America and because Quebeckers are a unique linguistic minority on this continent. Louis Massicotte, a political scientist at Laval University, published an article on federal electoral redistribution entitled “Quelle place pour le Québec? Étude sur la redistribution électorale fédérale”. It is also more important than ever to protect our language and our culture when negotiating free trade agreements. We are talking about the cradle of the Quebec nation, which this House recognized in November of 2006, although, in practice, this means nothing to the Conservative government.
Make no mistake. If the government is insisting on increasing the weight of these particular provinces, it is because they are its stronghold or because it hopes to make political gains there. By going forward with this democratic reform, the Conservative government is claiming that it wants to respect democracy. However, the Conservatives are not fooling anyone. They are masters of flouting democracy. For example, they prorogued Parliament to avoid votes. They failed to follow the House's orders to submit documents, in particular, documents on the transfer of Afghan prisoners. They refused to appear before parliamentary committees. They recommended that unelected senators vote against bills that were passed by a majority of votes in the House, thus going against the will of the people. In 2008, they also failed to abide by their own legislation on fixed election dates.
The government is blatantly misleading the House and the public, as in the case involving the Minister of International Cooperation. I could go on but there are other points I would like to make.
Any recommendation in the House made by a special committee should not only take into account the current demographic weight of Quebec in the House of Commons, but it should also ensure that this weight is maintained because under no circumstance should Quebec's weight be any less than it currently is in the House.
In its current form, the Senate is unnecessary. It is a vehicle for partisan politics. Ever since the minority Conservative government came to power, it has been using this vehicle to introduce bills that the House of Commons opposes, in order to go against the will of the House of Commons. I cited a few examples, but there are many more.
Going against the will of the elected members of the House of Commons is completely anti-democratic in that this opposition comes from people whose legitimacy comes from a partisan appointment, unlike the legitimacy of the members of Parliament, which comes from the people.
We do not have to look too far back to find an example. Just consider Bill C-311. Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, was supported by the Bloc Québécois and the majority of the legitimately elected members of the House of Commons. The bill imposed binding greenhouse gas reduction targets to ensure that Canada respects the IPCC recommendation and the requirement to submit a significant action plan every five years. The Prime Minister allowed the Senate to deny the will of the Parliament of Quebeckers and Canadians by allowing Conservative senators to defeat Bill C-311 without even studying it.
Yet, during the last election campaign, the Prime Minister declared that an unelected chamber should not block bills from an elected one. He then did an about-face and is now making use of the Conservative senators. He made sure that he appointed the majority of senators to the Senate to ensure that they would block bills or motions that Parliament had adopted and sent to the Senate and that they would introduce bills before members of Parliament even had a chance to speak to them.
When the seats of Liberal senators opened up, the Prime Minister made sure to appoint loyal Conservatives. By allowing their senators to vote against Bill C-311 without even studying it, the Conservatives created a precedent, a first since 1930, and showed a flagrant lack of respect for our democratic institutions.
The Conservative senators also managed to block certain bills passed by the House and sent to the Senate to be studied. Take, for example, Bill C-288, regarding the tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions, introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle, or Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), which would require Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. The Prime Minister could be confident that the senators would vote against these bills. In both cases, the Senate blocked the bills. On May 5, Bill C-288 received the support of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it was sent to the Senate. Since then, it has only been debated twice. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young people who want to study and remain in the regions, some of which are struggling economically.
With Bill C-232, the Conservatives were trying to buy some time. They kept delaying study of the bill until they had a majority in the Senate. The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to dictate its agenda. It is one thing for the Conservative government to oppose a measure, but to recommend that the Senate prevent debate on these two bills is unacceptable.
This shows the Conservative government's contempt for the will of the democratically elected parliamentarians. I should point out that the Liberals were no better and also used some schemes to delay passage of bills. Nonetheless, they never went as far as the Conservatives are going. In 2006, by the way, the Conservatives campaigned on reforming the Senate and making it more legitimate. That was one of the Prime Minister's promises.
That is why this Conservative government introduced a bill to reform Senate terms and limit them to eight years. That bill does nothing to reform this outdated, archaic institution where appointments are strictly partisan. That bill does nothing to remedy the nature of the Senate. The Prime Minister has transformed it into “a permanent office for his organizers, a waiting room for his Montreal candidates, and an absolute circus by the use of his surprising appointments, to describe them politely”, according to Vincent Marissal from La Presse.
The democratic deficit in the Senate and its extraordinarily partisan nature derive from the choices made by the Fathers of Confederation in 1867. From an academic standpoint, the upper house or senate in a federal system must represent the federated entities alongside a lower chamber, in our case, the House of Commons.
According to Réjean Pelletier, a political scientist and a professor in the political science department at Laval University, it is clear that this is not the case in the Canadian Parliament. In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation could have chosen the American model, where senators are elected by state legislatures and all states have equal weight, with the ability to elect two senators for a six-year term.
Instead, the Fathers of Confederation copied the British House of Lords and thus made the Senate a chamber that reviews legislation passed by the House of Commons. So the Senate is a chamber of sober second thought that moderates the overly democratic ways of the lower house, which is subject to pressure and emotional pleas from the public. But it no longer plays that role. What is more, senators were supposed to be appointed by the crown.
The idea of representing and defending the interests of federated entities did not come up in the discussions prior to the signing of the British North America Act. And from that stems our objection to the Senate, with its lack of legitimacy and representation.
Given that the Senate has become a partisan tool for the ruling Conservative Party and that it lacks both legitimacy and representation, it is not surprising that the public is angry about senators' spending.
According to an article by Stéphanie Marin in the January 27, 2011 edition of La Tribune, it would cost $90 million a year to keep the Senate in place. I do not remember the exact number, but I believe that 60% or 70% of Quebeckers supported abolishing the Senate.
We also learned in January that some senators are incurring excessive if not extravagant expenses. Conservative senators have not stopped sending mail-outs despite the fact that, in the spring of 2010, the House of Commons prohibited members from sending these types of mail-outs outside their ridings and specified that the Senate should follow suit.
It is important to note that the total printing budget for the Senate increased from $280,500 to $734,183 in 2008-09. Last month, the senators gave themselves the right to use taxpayers' dollars to continue to send mail-outs in which they can attack members.
To remedy the representation and legitimacy deficits and truly reform the Senate—to create a Senate where senators are actual representatives of Quebec and the provinces who are appointed or elected by legitimate authorities in Quebec, such as Quebec's National Assembly, and in the provinces and where there is equal representation for Quebec and the provinces resulting in a truly effective and non-partisan upper house as they have in other countries—we would have to proceed with a constitutional reform that would require agreement from seven provinces representing at least 50% of the population. We know that this would be practically impossible because we would have to reopen the Constitution.
The Bloc Québécois does not oppose this motion given that the Senate, in its current state, is unnecessary and that the current method of democratic representation has many shortcomings, such as the ones I have already mentioned. However, the Bloc's support for this motion is conditional upon the inclusion of two basic elements. First, Quebec's political weight must not be reduced at all as a result of any democratic reform. Second, under Quebec's referendum legislation, a referendum must be held in Quebec on the abolition of the Senate.
I would like to make two amendments to the NDP's motion. I move, seconded by the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges:
That the motion be amended:
(a) by adding after the words “the next general election,” the following:
“with the understanding that, in Quebec, such a referendum will be subject to Quebec law, in accordance with the current Referendum Act and as established as a precedent by the 1992 Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord,”;
(b) by adding after the words “recommendations to the House” the following:
“that in no way reduce the current weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons”. .
Statements By Members
January 31st, 2011 / 2:05 p.m.
Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC
Mr. Speaker, in response to an open letter I sent to Conservative Senator Andrée Champagne, asking her to explain her refusal to support Bill C-232 regarding bilingual judges and Bill C-311 on climate change, she replied with comments that bordered on racist.
She said that I lacked loyalty to Canada, “the country that welcomed me and that I wanted to see torn apart”. Is the Conservative Senator trying to say that a citizen who was not born here does not have the same right to an opinion as other Quebeckers and that he or she does not have the right to vote or be involved in a sovereignist party? She added that she was a "purebred Quebecker,” as evidenced by her genealogy.
The Bloc Québécois believes in openness and believes that all Quebeckers, regardless of where they come from, should have full rights of citizenship, including the right to decide Quebec's future.
November 4th, 2010 / 10:15 a.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Mr. Commissioner, do you think that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister—and I do mean the Parliamentary Secretary—is sending 10 percenters out in his riding in order to promote official languages? To my knowledge, this is the only riding he has sent them to; perhaps he has sent them across Canada. Does this help promote official languages? Is that not the problem?
We have a Senate made up of unelected individuals who, since June, have been considering Bill C-232 on Supreme Court judges and who have been saying loud and clear that they will do everything to ensure that it is not passed. That is what the Conservative Party people in the Senate are doing.
My question is simple: do we currently have a government that is promoting official languages with those kinds of comments and those kinds of positions?
November 4th, 2010 / 9:40 a.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
I am asking you the question, and this is something that you will certainly hear about later. Do you think it is appropriate for the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary to be sending out ten percenters in his area stating that Bill C-232 on bilingual judges at the Supreme Court is not a good thing, that it would prevent anglophones from being appointed to the Supreme Court? Do you find that appropriate, coming from the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary? Other parliamentary secretaries go so far as to say that it is the best bill to have been passed, because they will campaign against us out west by saying that we are preventing anglophones from being named to the Supreme Court.
Do you find it appropriate for a government that is supposedly responsible for insuring compliance with our two official languages to conspire against that official languages bill?