Evidence of meeting #32 for Official Languages in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was roadmap.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Graham Fraser  Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
  • Sylvain Giguère  Assistant Commissioner, Policy and Communications Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
  • Lise Cloutier  Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Management Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

8:55 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

The Commissioner of Official Languages prepares a report, has studied the entire problem and has made recommendations. However, the government didn't even tell you whether it was going to respond to your report. Is that in fact what you're telling me?

8:55 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I'm going to ask Mr. Giguère, who has been in touch with certain departments, to answer your question.

March 15th, 2012 / 8:55 a.m.

Sylvain Giguère Assistant Commissioner, Policy and Communications Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

As regards the recommendation made to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, we are in talks with the department to clarify what we want and so on. This is something we are working on now. It is in progress and it is still too early to say whether we will get any results.

The same is true of the recommendations on the CBC level. We are continuing discussions with people to see how we will move this file forward. So we are in quite frequent talks with our colleagues in other departments.

9 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Commissioner, after hearing the representatives of one department say before this committee that they considered the committee's proceedings as consultations, you said that there had been a number of complaints on the subject and that you did not want to state an opinion on the subject. I believe you wanted to tell us in advance not to ask any questions on this point because we were not going to get any answers.

I just want to read you a passage from part VII of the Official Languages Act, which is very clear about consultations:(2) The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall take such measures as that Minister considers appropriate to ensure public consultation in the development of policies and review of programs relating to the advancement and the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society.

It also talks about public consultations. Do you believe that we, the members of this committee, are the only members of the public? We are members of the public, if you will, but we are also elected representatives. There is a difference between us, the members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, and the general public.

9 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I will answer you by repeating subsection 43(2) of the Official Languages Act, which you have cited, and which states, in reference to the minister: (2) The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall take such measures as that Minister considers appropriate to ensure public consultation in the development of policies and review of programs relating to the advancement and the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society.

We are conducting our investigation based on this subsection.

9 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

The public is all across Canada.

9 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

We are conducting our analysis based on subsection 43(2).

9 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

That's exactly what we're talking about, commissioner.

In your opinion, has the roadmap actually led the departments concerned to cooperate more on community development issues that require horizontal action, in immigration, for example?

9 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

You mentioned immigration. I believe there are very positive examples of cooperation in that area. I often cite the example of the cooperative relationship between Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Government of Manitoba, the Société franco-manitobaine and Destination Canada, a program that has been mentioned before this committee.

I believe the difficulty involved in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the roadmap lies in the broad variety of elements it covers. It's a bit like the Indian fable in which blind people are asked to describe an elephant. One touches the elephant's tail and says it's a snake; another touches the elephant's side and says it's a wall. The idea is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of a program that contains a lot of elements.

That's not my role, but rather that of the institutions. In compiling initiatives and examining the reports on plans and priorities and the departmental performance reports, we discovered that it is quite difficult to conduct the kind of evaluation you want to have.

9 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Godin and Mr. Fraser.

Mr. Weston, it's your turn.

9 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to Mr. Fraser and the other witnesses for being with us today. It's always a pleasure to have you.

I believe that, if there is a model promoter of linguistic duality, it's you, Mr. Fraser. You do your job with a great deal of passion and energy.

Today you told us it was very important to renew the roadmap and to implement a new five-year plan. With your permission, I will ask you whether the present study is very important. There are some who believe that the study we are conducting has been too long and that there are too many witnesses. If it is so important to renew the roadmap, what do you think about this study that we are conducting right now? Is it that important?

9:05 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Mr. Chair, I believe it's very important. I have read a large portion of the evidence you have heard, and I have been struck by the amount of information you have received from witnesses. I believe you have already gathered an enormous amount of information and already have a basis on which to draft a report that I would find very useful for us and for our own analyses.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Fraser, you just used the image of an elephant to describe the roadmap. If the roadmap is an elephant, can we say it is good to know the perspective of the witnesses from the various communities across the country?

9:05 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

That's correct. I believe the government programs contained in the roadmap, as well as certain programs not in the roadmap, are examples of success. Part VII of the act states that all federal institutions are required to adopt positive measures for the vitality of the communities and to promote linguistic duality. The major successes have been the result of cooperation between the federal institutions and the communities. I believe it is very important to hear people who are working on the ground report on their experience.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

You mentioned a few times the success of British Columbia, the province where I come from. Can you give us some examples of those kinds of cooperative efforts?