Evidence of meeting #40 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 consultations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Hubert Lussier  Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship and Heritage Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage
  • Daniel Jean  Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay, thank you.

There's no unanimous consent to answer all of the questions, but there are other opportunities for members—

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

As you also know, Mr. Godin—

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

—of the NDP to ask questions.

Monsieur Gourde.

May 3rd, 2012 / 8:45 a.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank the minister for being here this morning, and especially for having made himself available to meet with us. You have a very busy schedule, and as I work with you, I know you are extremely available.

My questions will be brief. Unlike the opposition, I do not wish to waste any time in asking long questions preceded by long very partisan preambles. MPs from the governing party like to work in a constructive manner for official languages. I think you have made your mark since you've become Minister for Canadian Heritage. You have moved the issue of official languages forward and we are very pleased to work with you.

You recently tabled your mid-term report. Could you tell us about it?

8:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Of course. There are two things. All of the details in that document lay out the progress made so far in the area of services, culture, health and so forth. In my opinion, what counts in the short term is using this document to initiate discussions in the various regions of the country. It's one thing to have a document from 2008 that speaks of our aspirations over the next five years, but it's quite another to have a mid-term report to launch the next stage of commitments. Such a study was necessary, but we wanted it to be tabled after the budget. There was a certain sequence; the election campaign, our 2011 budget, and following that, consultations before the 2012 budget, during which we made commitments not only towards communities in a minority situation, but also towards all Canadians, mainly those who needed to know that the Roadmap would be protected in the 2012 budget.

We consulted and made commitments, and then we tabled our 2012 budget. We protected francophone and anglophone communities in a minority situation. Our Roadmap is completely protected in the 2012 budget. On April 5, a few weeks later, we tabled the mid-term report. We have made all these commitments, that is in the 2011 budget, the 2012 budget and in our report.

Now, I am before you today. I mentioned our consultations that will take place over the next few months. We will come back and you will have undertaken a parallel study of your own over the course of the summer. We will have both studies. We will continue to discuss all of it and it will all be part of our commitments in the 2013 budget. There is a process.

Let's see what we are doing overall. We encourage the committee to study our Roadmap and, once all this documentation is produced, we are committed to pursuing the discussion. I believe that is the most responsible approach for a government that wishes to have a responsible official languages policy for all regions in the country.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

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

Our committee has discussed at some length the importance of investing in education through the Roadmap. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

If I remember correctly, that makes up 41% or 42% of the Roadmap, that is $1 billion over five years. That's nearly 42% invested in education. That is the largest portion of the Roadmap. As I said the last time I appeared here, my mother was one of the first French teachers in British Columbia. Today, my sister also teaches French in British Columbia. For the future protection of the French language in all the regions of the country, it is truly essential to have that type of commitment. Education is essential.

I know that the Commissioner of Official Languages has undertaken a study of post-secondary education. That's most important, but as a government, we must respect provincial jurisdiction, that is why we made commitments to the Liberal, Conservative or NDP provincial governments in Nova Scotia and Manitoba. We must have concrete results for communities that need investments from their government. It is essential that we commit to education. In my opinion, that is the most important aspect of the Roadmap.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

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

Minister, could you explain to us how you tell Canadians about the implementation of the Roadmap?

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

There is our website. The government makes its publications available to everyone. This report here is available online, in every MP's office, and in all Service Canada offices. It is available for anyone who wishes to read it. During the next round of consultations and round tables, we will distribute that report and the original Roadmap report in order to commit to continuing the work. It is essential that everyone have access to this information.

8:50 a.m.

Conservative

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

In closing, I have one comment. I would like to congratulate you for your performance on the television show Tout le monde en parle in Quebec. Quebec had the opportunity to get to know you and today, has a greater appreciation for you.

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Gourde.

Mr. Dion, you have the floor.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. How many minutes do I have?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

You have seven minutes.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Minister, I have four or five questions for you. I promise to be brief, but I would like you to answer them directly without too many explanations.

First of all, I understand from your comments that the impression left, perhaps involuntarily, by the senior director of the Secretariat of Official Languages, Mr. Gauthier, that the only official consultations on the next Roadmap were undertaken by this committee, was unfounded. You do plan to have official consultations within your department, isn't that so?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Yes, we are doing so this summer.