Evidence of meeting #37 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 research.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Josianne Beaumont  Second Vice-President, Board of Directors, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Claire Beaubien  Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Mylène Chartrand  Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
  • Mathieu René  Director, Board of Directors, Association des francophones du Nunavut
  • Jules Custodio  President, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador
  • Éric Forgues  Researcher, Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities
  • Léo-Paul Provencher  Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise
  • Gaël Corbineau  Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

April 24th, 2012 / 9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

We have a point of order from Mr. Menegakis.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Chair, we're studying the road map. The witnesses are here to talk to us about that. I believe Mr. Godin's question is way out of order and beyond the scope of what we're discussing and studying here. I don't see how referring to what happened in a minority government prior to this mandate can help the witnesses or us in our study at this time.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Menegakis.

We are on the road map study, and we've heard opening testimony from the four different groups in front of us. The Fédération franco-ténoise indicated in their recommendations that we receive and incorporate the report that was done by the committee in a previous parliament. I'm going to allow this line of questioning because they did mention it in their opening statement and Mr. Godin is simply asking them to elaborate on it.

Go ahead, Mr. Godin.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to hear your answer, please.

9:20 a.m.

Léo-Paul Provencher Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

I'll be pleased to answer your question.

We have seen many times that a number of federal organizations are unaware of the northern reality. I'm talking about recent years. We've made elaborate presentations on the three territories together with my colleagues on more than one occasion. We've done that every two or three years or so, and every time we saw how pleased people were to discover the north.

Your committee's initiative to tour the territories was extremely praiseworthy. You had the opportunity to set foot on the ground, and I believe that it's by smelling the earth that you can understand the nordic reality, the distances, the weather, the small populations and the cost of living. You have set foot there, and I am sure you spent a lot of money to eat in the Northwest Territories, in Yellowknife, since I was there. This initiative should benefit from what you learned about the reality of the territories.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

The government doesn't want the report to be tabled in Parliament. Would you recommend that we finish the report? We had the same researcher, the same clerk and some of the current members of the committee. I know that some crime bills that have been tabled since 2006 have not been examined in Parliament. When we got there, they were not discussed because we were told that we had discussed them enough and that they could table them in Parliament without discussion.

Since they don't want us to table the report, do you think it would be a good idea for us to go and visit the north again?

9:20 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

You came to see the north and you can come back because you may not have seen everything in a single visit. However, you have definitely benefited from greater knowledge of our situation. I believe that's an investment that deserves to be completed. You have invested a lot of money.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Some government members may feel hurt that they didn't go there. That's why they don't want the report to be tabled in Parliament. Perhaps we could have them travel.

I remember that there were cuts to the community budgets when I went to Newfoundland and Labrador. Is that still going on? We are talking about the roadmap. You want the roadmap to continue. I believe that's clear; that's the case for every group. I can understand why you wanted the roadmap to continue. Has the roadmap done anything for Newfoundland and Labrador? We often hear that people want the roadmap, but that people don't know where the money is going or where it comes from.

I would like you to clarify that because this is a puzzle for me. People say they want the roadmap. It's as though they knew that there was something, but they don't know what. That's especially the case in the high north because you say you haven't even seen it. You want it, but you haven't had it. What do you really want? Define what the roadmap should be.

9:25 a.m.

Gaël Corbineau Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

In fact, your comments contain two questions, Mr. Godin. With regard to the community envelope, when you came to see us, our problem was mainly that the process of obtaining Canadian Heritage's contribution was slow. It came very late. At the time, as you will remember, that also made headlines in the media in our region and elsewhere in Canada. The person responsible for the directorate at the time had to pay employees' salaries using his own personal line of credit.

There weren't necessarily any cutbacks, but if you consider the fact that the community budget has not been increased for more than a decade, there has technically been a cutback since no allowance was made for inflation. We can estimate that our ability to take action has been cut by more than 30%.

What was your second question about the roadmap?

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

When talking about the roadmap, people always tell me that they don't know where the money is going, how it is being spent, the province—

9:25 a.m.

Director General, Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador

Gaël Corbineau

In support of what Mr. Custodio, my president, said during his presentation, I would say that our major concern today is to ensure the renewal of the roadmap, which we believe is really a very promising and praiseworthy concept. However, we would like there to be some transparency to offset the current lack of clarity about the destination of that funding. Of the total amount of funding, we do not know exactly what is being spent in our province for our communities or for the advancement of official languages in Newfoundland and Labrador. This remains a major black mark, and I believe we are not the only ones who have said so.

There is one other point: what about the funding flowing through the provincial government? That goes into the provincial government's general fund and then we have no certainty that it is allocated to official languages development.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

All right, thank you.

Mr. Gourde, you have the floor.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to the witnesses for being here this morning. You have all testified to the effect that it is important to extend the roadmap. Can you give me any specific examples of initiatives in your provinces or territories that the roadmap has made it possible to establish? Could the future roadmap improve or take your initiatives to a new stage? How could that be done? It's always easier to get an idea when we are given specific examples.

You may begin, Ms. Beaubien, or someone else.

9:25 a.m.

Past Executive Director, Fédération franco-ténoise

Léo-Paul Provencher

With your permission, I will comment on the question. I have lived in the Northwest Territories for a few years. Mr. Gourde, there has been one specific initiative since 2008, the establishment of a francophone college in the Northwest Territories, where there previously was none. A college has gradually been established through federal funding. That college is still in existence, but it has changed names. It has had some difficulty progressing as a result of a lack of support, but it is there; it has started up. That's very specific. It is a college that will very significantly benefit all the communities in the Northwest Territories, and the roadmap will guarantee its development.

There are some very promising partnerships being discussed, particularly regarding language training and a northern studies program. Knowledge of the north benefits all newcomers, all new citizens of the Northwest Territories. That represents a lot of people, since people do not stay in the Northwest Territories for a very long time.

That is a specific example, and I can offer several others, such as the development of our radio station and maintenance of our aquadome. More information on federal and territorial services is provided through our media. Policies on the dissemination of information and services to the community also result in greater participation by francophones in communities and services.