Evidence of meeting #36 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

  • Jennifer Johnson  Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network
  • James Carter  Program and Policy Advisor, Community Health and Social Services Network
  • John Aylen  President, Board of Directors, Youth Employment Services
  • Iris Unger  Executive Director, Youth Employment Services
  • Kevin O'Donnell  President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
  • Matthew Farfan  Executive Director, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
  • Roderick MacLeod  Past President, Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
  • Paule Langevin  Project Director, Community Learning Centre Inititative, Leading English Education and Resource Network
  • Debbie Horrocks  Assistant Project Director and Community Liaison Coordinator, Community Learning Centre Initiative, Leading English Education and Resource Network

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

I understand your desire to add flexibility there, but I think that “before the summer” is important.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

I think my amendment speaks to the willingness to bring him here. I believe he wants to come, and it will probably be done before the summer. I want to leave my amendment as is.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay.

Mr. Bélanger.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

I would like to move a subamendment, Mr. Chair.

I suggest that the meeting last two hours. I move that the minister's appearance—on a date of his choosing—last two hours.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

He is taking it out and I want to put it back in.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay. We now have a subamendment to the amendment. The subamendment that's live on the floor right now would include “two-hour” in the amendment moved by Mr. Menegakis.

We're on the subamendment. Is there any discussion on the subamendment?

Monsieur Godin.

April 5th, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Really, I am having trouble accepting that. I don't mind that we are moving this from May 18 to 30, but to say that he can come when he feels like it...

We are already giving him a period of time over the next few weeks. Are official languages important for the government or not? Why can he not take two hours to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages? Where is the problem? This government has trumpeted far and wide that it is acting for the good of official languages. Why does he not come to trumpet it before our committee? Let him make his presentation and give us the opportunity... As I stated earlier, we have spent six months considering the roadmap. We want the minister to be accountable for official languages within his department.

First, it is not unusual to have a minister appear for two hours.

Second, we are setting a deadline but we are not telling him he has to be here next week. We know he is busy and it seems to me that giving him until the end of May is reasonable. When he does become available by May 18, then we will give him all the time needed, we will give him the morning. But we cannot say that he can come when he wants, for no more than an hour, and that we are sure he will come before the end of June. That is not how these things work.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Lapointe, you have the floor.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

I am surprised by Mr. Menegakis' amendment. Maybe there is something that I have not yet grasped. Does ministerial accountability still exist? Does that include ministers coming before standing committees? Does that involve a standing committee being able to suggest an appropriate time period, depending on the study at hand, to have an opportunity to exchange views with the minister? This is all being disregarded and we are saying that the minister can come whenever he wants to, for however long he wants to, and maybe he will come, but maybe not, we will see. Where is ministerial accountability in all that? When does it happen? If it has disappeared, then why are we here? This is a fundamental question. I am concerned by the lack of parameters.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Gourde, you have the floor.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Menegakis' amendment is that the minister will come, but in a way that is respectful of the minister. We know that our ministers have very little time and they have very busy schedules. Perhaps the NDP members have never experienced what the life of a minister can be like, but Mr. Bélanger has. A minister may be available, but he may not be.

I think that we must invite the minister. If we are not satisfied with his response, then you can always table another amendment, another motion. Our side, under Mr. Menegakis' amendment, is inviting the minister to come at his convenience. Once we have a response, we can always have a discussion, but if the response is positive, if the date works for us and if he appears for an appropriate length of time, then this discussion will have been for nothing. That would be logical. That is what I wanted to say. If we abide by tradition and if we respect the minister, then the amendment is acceptable.

On the other hand, I think it is unacceptable to try and restrict things with the subamendment. We will vote in favour of the amendment. We will vote in favour of the motion as amended. We are ready to vote.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

On Mr. Bélanger's subamendment, there are two minutes remaining.

Mr. Harris.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

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

Can we call the question, Mr. Chair?

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Ironically—