Evidence of meeting #35 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 community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Charles Childs  President, English Language Arts Network Quebec
  • Guy Rodgers  Executive Director, English Language Arts Network Quebec
  • David D'Aoust  President, Quebec English School Boards Association
  • Michael Chiasson  Executive Committee Member, Quebec English School Boards Association
  • Gerald Cutting  President, Townshippers' Association
  • David Birnbaum  Executive Director, Quebec English School Boards Association
  • Ingrid Marini  Executive Director, Townshippers' Association

April 3rd, 2012 / 9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, gentlemen, Madame.

A couple of quick things first. I totally agree that the report done by the Senate last year was a very good one. I was just wondering if there has been a response from the government to that.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

There has, and I've asked the analyst, Madame Lecomte, to distribute an electronic copy of the report to all members of the committee. So you should get that shortly.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

And the response.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

We'll also ask her to distribute the response.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

That would be useful for all of us.

I've read the report, but I haven't read the response, so I'm curious to read that. A minority report...you might have problems with the copyright on that.

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, English Language Arts Network Quebec

Guy Rodgers

Tom Cruise is an old friend of mine.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

No, no, no, it wouldn't be Tom Cruise. It was Philip K. Dick who wrote the book, Minority Report. I'd like to see, if I can, you know....

And shame on you for not mentioning Irving Layton, sir.

9:30 a.m.

President, English Language Arts Network Quebec

Charles Childs

Oh, I'm sorry.

9:30 a.m.

Executive Director, English Language Arts Network Quebec

Guy Rodgers

Especially after his anniversary last month.

9:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Indeed, indeed.

First of all, let us talk about the linguistic school boards.

You may recall, sir, that I was part of the committee that looked at that. How has it worked out for the Quebec anglophone community?

9:30 a.m.

President, Quebec English School Boards Association

David D'Aoust

Let me start by saying that I was one who didn't want that, because we offered French and English education in a Protestant milieu. All those who said they were Protestant got through the door. So we had a 50-50 system of French schools and English schools, and I loved it.

On the other hand, I have to tell you, in all sincerity, that I think it has worked well. The decision taken by the provincial government leader at the time, which I objected to, has worked out very well. I think it's brought our English-speaking community together even more. We've experienced losses of enrollment. Many of our anglophone students, by the way, roughly 9,000 to 14,000—it's a big spread—still attend French schools, because it's a big attraction language-wise. We're competing with our French neighbouring school boards, and we are competing hard because

they are able to provide a francophone setting that we cannot provide in our schools.

And finally, the ministry of education views us as a minority. They often consult us, but not necessarily before legislation is passed, as was the case with Bill 56: the ministry did not consult us and it landed in holy water.

We are treated the same way with respect to ratios and per capitas. However, there is never enough financing because our needs are not the same any more. One of our major requirements is language learning.

You know that the first immersion class was founded in a board I worked for. And I have to tell you that it was not a school board effort; it was a parent effort. The community put pressure on that school board and said that if they didn't want to make our kids bilingual, they were going to do it themselves. They paid for a teacher for an immersion year in kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2. It was a wealthy community, and they did it. Only then did school boards see the light, and then you had the research done by Wally Lambert, etc.

I would tell you

that our parents are as fervent today as they were back in 1964.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Merci.

Do you agree?

9:35 a.m.

Executive Director, Quebec English School Boards Association

David Birnbaum

The portrait our president has laid out reminds us of why we must see in any future road map the maintenance of Canada-provincial ententes that are not contribution agreements. We've heard some ill winds about that possibility, which would be an absolute and unmitigated disaster. We need the community opportunity to tell you how this money gets spent. We need this government to have the accountability measures in place to see that your legal duties in seeing the official languages respected work. That must be in the new road map.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

You're okay with the constitutional amendment on the school boards as well.

9:35 a.m.

Executive Director, Quebec English School Boards Association

David Birnbaum

I'll agree with my president on that.