House of Commons Hansard #61 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was english.

Topics

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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

The hon. member also mentioned the patriation of the Constitution, thanks to which we now have section 23 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Once again, I thank the hon. member for reminding me of other elements of the excellent policy of Mr. Trudeau.

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4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

You need more help. There was also the War Measures Act.

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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

The hon. members across the way are welcome to continue their heckling, as they allow me to praise all the good Liberal policies in language and many other areas.

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4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is the following: the hon. member for Shefford-employment centres.

Business Of The House
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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

A point of order, Madam Speaker. I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of private members' hour today on Motion M-166 in the name of the member for St. Albert, that a recorded vote on that motion be deemed to have been requested and that the said recorded vote, notwithstanding our Standing Orders, be deferred until next Tuesday at 5.30 p.m.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

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June 13th, 1996 / 4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I just heard what the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, a francophone, had to say, and I can tell you that it would be less painful to swallow razor blades than to hear his remarks. He is a token francophone who has spent all his life in the wings of power, who has been taking advantage of the system, who has been eating tasty little dishes prepared by the Governor General's chef for the past 15 years.

However, in return, since any privilege requires something in return, he has to reassure his people, restrain them, make them admit that their situation is enviable after all. We have always had French Canadians of this calibre since Étienne Brûlé, and we still do.

In 1742-43, La Vérendrye and his two sons left to explore western Canada. The expedition split at the Great Lakes head. They scattered over a territory ranging from west of the Appalachians to the Rockies and from the Mississippi to the far north.

These few Frenchmen are the ancestors of what became the Metis people of North America. They are the ancestors of Louis Riel, Ovide Mercredi, Chief Fontaine and possibly several members of this House, including the Secretary of State for Training and Youth and the member for St. Boniface.

Between 1880 and 1910, about 2 million Quebecers, facing an unbearable financial situation, decided to leave Quebec for New England. The number of their descendants is estimated at about 10 million today. Let us try to imagine what Quebec would be with a population of 17 million.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe were given lands and what they needed to start a farm in the Prairies and in western Canada. Each time the official opposition has raised language issues in this House, the government has asked its francophones from outside Quebec to do its dirty work. The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell has just given us the best example of that.

When we refer to these historical facts, these token francophones tell us that it is in the past. True. However, how can we rectify a situation if we are not allowed to refer to history? Did the Governor General himself not say last week in this House that those who choose to ignore the past risk repeating their mistakes?

This morning, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration gave us a list of various programs designed to help francophones outside Quebec. As if money rules everything. With her money, the minister thinks she can strike a balance, break the phenomenon of assimilation.

That is not where the problem is. Assimilation will stop when francophones have understood their origins are as noble as the anglophones', that there is no shame in being of French origin. The government should, in translating its good faith into action, promote the notion of pride, somewhat as it does when it pours millions of dollars of public money into promoting national unity.

In part VII of the Official Languages Act, the federal government of the day made a commitment to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minorities in Canada. What has it done in this regard. Zilch. Subsidies and injections of funds will not advance the cause of French in Canada; it will take a resurgence of pride in one's French origins.

Let us start by putting a stop to changing place names to erase all trace of the French presence in North America, and one that came before the English presence. Why not give the Peace River its old name of rivière de la Paix and the Red River, its original name of rivière Rouge? If I asked the members of the Reform Party and perhaps three quarters of the members of the party in power where the rivière Rouge got its name, they would not be able to tell me. How many names like Grand Portage, lac Lacroix, rivière à la Pluie, lac à la Pluie, portage du Rat, île de l'Élan still exist in western Canada?

The problem with the francophones outside Quebec is that most of them have lost respect for their language. A combination of disdain, derision and intolerance have made many francophones feel second class or inferior because of their French heritage. Many francophones outside Quebec suffer from the victim syndrome. Psychologists agree that women and children who have been sexually assaulted end up feeling guilty for something or some failing and turning the aggression they suffered on themselves.

The only Reform member of French origin is the only one of his party to have never, in close to three years, even tried to say a word in French.

The member for St. Boniface speaks French and a very good French at that, but he reserves this language for instances when he is called upon to do a number on his colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois.

This phenomenon also exists inside Quebec, it is not particular to the rest of Canada. A francophone called Leduc, in my riding, who used Canadian flags in huge amounts, told me during a discussion we had in my office: "All my life I have been ashamed of being a francophone. It hindered me in every endeavour. I was passed over because I was a francophone. Wolfe should have"-and he was quite adamant-"kicked all them damned Frenchies off Cape Diamond in 1760, and there would be no more French in Canada". This is what he said in my office, in front of a witness.

A resident of St. Boniface told me something similar last summer, as I was meditating on Louis Riel's grave during a stay in that town. He was French speaking and derived tremendous benefits from the fact, from what he told me. He could go to Ottawa two or three times a year, all expenses paid. He had fun. I incurred the wrath of somebody who was really feeling second rate inside.

If the government wants to maintain French as a common language, it must take vigorous means to revive in the minds of French Canadians the pride it tried for so long to extinguish. This is really the meaning that must be given to Section 41, Part VII, of the Official Languages Act.

Contrary to what the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell has suggested, members of the Bloc Quebecois have no political advantage in proposing the motion introduced today. No Bloc candidate is running for elections outside Quebec, not even in the riding of the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. What we want to do is stop francophones outside Quebec from being anglicized, slowly but surely.

The survival of francophones in Quebec, like the survival of anglophones outside of Quebec, is contingent upon measures that will be taken in order to protect them, or at least to protect themselves. This is the true meaning of the motion of the Bloc, introduced by my friend, the member for Québec-Est. We will not let ourselves be pushed, we will not let ourselves be told stupidities like those I heard earlier, in the name of what, nobody knows, but inspired, we believe, by the possibility of profit, of privileges.

I see the member for Vancouver Quadra. I would be surprised to hear him disagree, if I were to tell him what the word "utilitarianism" means. It is a theory developed by the British monarchy as a means to maintain itself in its colonies. "The King can do no

wrong", do you remember that, my hon. frind from Vancouver Quadra?

"The King can do no wrong", in other words, the King can do as he pleases. Everything was allowed, including turning a man into a woman, almost. The member for Vancouver Quadra agrees with me. According to this utilitarianism principle, colonies were set up, privileges were created and people became what were called "white niggers of America". There was always a foreman, someone who dominated the others. This has been the case in South Africa, in India, everywhere, here too.

Privileges were granted in order to maintain their presence. I am sure I will be asked a question on that. I will conclude my explanations in my answer.

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4:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Madam Speaker, can I put a question to the member for Chambly? He certainly remembers the friendly agreement between Premier Lesage and Premier Robarts of Ontario, who was a constitutional adviser at the time. That agreement was respectful of the territoriality principle and it was carried out by all of Mr. Lesage's successors. It stated that the protection of the minorities' rights within each province should be entrusted to the province.

In this sense, I think we should admit that Prime Minister Trudeau, who maybe deserves a bit more recognition on the part of members across the way, and whom we should trust as we used to, had that same attitude concerning Bill 22, the censorial bill, preventing disputes before the Supreme Court of Canada, except in some rare instances.

Does the member agree that today, this principle of territoriality must make way for the principle of nationality or personality-how should I say-under the common law or otherwise? We must recognize the undercurrent we find today in linguistic and cultural policies. Maybe things have to be different now.

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4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver Quadra who is trying to drag me into the constitutional quagmire of 1964.

I can tell you that the territoriality of Quebecers stops at their present borders. One of the consequences of the quiet revolution was, for instance, that French Canadians, francophones who saw themselves first as French Canadians, dropped this expression nearly overnight, to identify themselves with their territory, thus becoming Quebecers.

We let English Canadians, who wanted it and were more numerous, have the term Canadian, For the second time in 200 years or so, we retreated into our territory. This is the reason why today we call ourselves Canadians.

We even let you have our national anthem, which was first written in French. You never sing the second and third verses, you would look too silly. You sing the first one because it is neutral enough and applies to everybody. If you ever sang the other verses, you would change the national anthem post haste.

But when it comes to territoriality, as the member for Vancouver Quadra said-I have a lot of respect for him; in those days, he was quite a distinguished advisor on such matters, including to Quebec premiers; I have nothing against him, he understands a lot of things.

If only all the anglophones in Canada and in the present government could understand as much as he does, we would not have as many problems and we might even be able to reach some kind of partnership agreement without too much trouble. Unfortunately, their frustrations and the blinkers they have on both sides of their heads prevent them from seeing the way. They can only see the ruts in front of them.

In closing, I come back to the notion of utilitarianism. The British government maintained its presence in the colonies by granting privileges. As the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra knows, it was not allowed to take legal action against an anglophone in Quebec after the conquest, in 1760. It was not possible to take a case to court. A francophone could not bring legal action against an anglophone.

In 1808, Ezékiel Hart, a Jew, was elected to the Quebec Legislative Assembly as the member for Trois-Rivières. They forbade him to take his seat, in 1808. This came straight from London. It is his son who defended the Patriotes in 1837. There were anglophone patriots, but there were also francophone patriots.

Few people wonder today how it came about that two brothers, the Nelsons, anglophones, fought with many others alongside the Patriotes in 1837.

They wanted a responsible government, something the British Crown denied them because of its utilitarianism. Amusingly, they got a vertically striped flag almost identical to the ones of the Italian or French republics.

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4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I am tempted to use the rich historic seam that my colleague is exploiting, but I will bring the House back to the consideration of the actual grievances of francophones, those we have become used to calling francophones outside Quebec and Acadians, their actual grievances towards this federation.

However, by way of introduction, I will point out how the history of the "Canayens", who became French Canadians-before a group of them became Quebecers-is one of being torn between the will to survive and the daily heroism that is impossible and that explains assimilation when it takes place rapidly, and this heart-

breaking will to achieve full development and finally have their own country.

Telling the history of Canadians in North America is extremely fascinating, although this history is sometimes tragic. This afternoon, I will talk about a tragic part of it.

I would like to point out that, for francophones living in minority situations, the inability to benefit from manpower training or manpower adjustment measures in their own language is a not inconsiderable assimilation factor. I did say "inability".

The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and the Conseil canadien de la coopération formed a committee on this issue of manpower adjustment measures. The mandate of this committee was to establish a master plan in favour of the development of francophone and acadian communities, while considering their specificity.

In its report, this committee assessed the situation of francophones everywhere in Canada and came to various conclusions that are very interesting for the purpose of our discussion today. First-and this is the committee's conclusion-there is no unique situation, but many different situations among the problems facing francophones in various environments-we are still talking about francophones living in minority situations; if the weakness of francophones was evident in the past through their absence from large businesses with more than 500 employees, we have to admit today that their presence in job creating small businesses may be considered, if not as an asset, at least as the end of this weakness; francophones living in urbanized areas have a higher education and make a better living, but their assimilation rate is higher than among those who live outside urban areas, in environments where the economy is more resource-oriented.

I take this opportunity to point out that, in this case, the finding of assimilation is not made by Bloc members for allegedly perverse reasons, but by this same committee, which, being aware of the stakes, wants to find out what conditions are needed so that francophones who live in minority situations can stop assimilating at this accelerated pace and live decently in French.

The committee noted that francophones are less educated, and that is big problem in a knowledge-based economy. According to the report, there has been some improvement in the past few years, but the level of schooling of francophones remains substantially lower than that of anglophones across the country. In several francophone areas, more than 30 per cent of the population is illiterate, and this rate is closer to 50 per cent in depressed areas.

The committee noted that more francophones than anglophones have seasonal jobs. It noted that, from 1977 to 1992, the income gap between anglophones and francophones across Canada increased from 9.9 per cent to 14 per cent, in spite of the fact it actually went down from 8.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent in Quebec. This goes to show how substantial the increase was outside Quebec. The evil separatists are not the ones saying this. This is the assessment the joint committee on francophones outside Quebec made of this situation, as stubborn and cruel as the facts may be.

These facts clearly seem to indicate that specific measures to help francophone Canadians in a minority situation are required and urgently required. Let us tell it as it is: to date, their uniqueness in the particular area of manpower training and adjustment has not been recognized by the federal government.

We will recall that, in December, the Commissioner of Official Languages investigated the professional training services offered by the Government of Ontario and reported as follows: "Our investigation has determined that, because of the limited character of the offer and the delays in getting in French courses, Canada employment centres often refer francophones for English courses. It has confirmed the existence of a qualitative and quantitative difference between the training provided in French and the training provided in English".

In fact, according to the report, based on the money spent on manpower training in Ontario between 1991 and 1993, $80 million, or nearly 5 per cent of the total amount, should have gone to francophones. As for Acadians, they should have received $50 million. And I quote: "All Franco-Ontarian stakeholders from the labour community unanimously agree that they did not have access to one-tenth of these resources and that the provinces did not respect either the letter or the spirit of these agreements. Federal resources were simply diverted from their main target, keeping francophone and Acadian communities beyond the reach of key Canadian labour development strategies and taking away their manoeuvring room in assuming control over their own economic development."

The committee also identified what it sees as the concepts and key principles underlying these proposals regarding, among other things, labour and the denial of rights, which played a large part in the chronic undereducation of community members and forced them to play catch-up, a situation the committee finds alarming. The illiteracy rates recorded in these communities are unacceptable in an industrialized country like Canada.

Job training is a basic right. It is essential that the francophone and Acadian communities have control over their own economic space. Other essential elements are an active supply of services in French in order to create a demand, a network of francophone clusters, the support of existing forces and full enforcement of the Official Languages Act. Those are the findings in the report of the committee consisting of the Fédération canadienne des commu-

nautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and the Conseil canadien de la coopération.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with these findings and will support the demands made by this committee. If the Bloc Quebecois supports these demands, it is because it seems obvious that words and goodwill are not enough. Contrary to what the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said today, it is not enough to believe in it.

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4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Ontario, ON

Madam Speaker, I guess it is always annoying to find a bilingual member from a province where-according to the Bloc Quebecois-French is not spoken.

As you can see, I am not a francophone, but I am a francophile. It is not by chance or by accident that some members of my generation can express themselves in both official languages.

Unfortunately, I arrived here a bit late because I was held up by my work in committee. I would like to ask the hon. member how she can claim to help francophone minorities outside Quebec, considering the Bloc Quebecois' proposal, ideology and philosophy is to separate Quebec from these minorities? What kind of leadership does she think the Bloc can give to protect French language minorities outside Quebec, if its goal is to leave Canada?

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4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, as the person responsible for this issue, I had the privilege of representing the Parti Quebecois on several occasions before Acadian or francophone communities outside Quebec. I was often asked that question and I would always give two answers.

First, for young francophones who are part of a minority, it would be an extremely interesting and stimulating example to see a French language country developing and thriving. It is very hard for these young people to preserve their language, as witnessed by the fact that they tend to use it less, and who can blame them, considering how hard it is to do so? Certainly not me.

The second answer is that a sovereign Quebec will be in a good position to sign reciprocity agreements, to make it easier for francophones interested in studying in Quebec, etc. For example, we should not underestimate the effect of the support given to New Brunswick by France and Belgium.

Indeed, if you ask these communities, you will find out that it is not negligible. As for us, given that the North American francophonie will import us, if you will, and that we will also be an important model for francophones and francophiles across North America, we think we will do an even better job at fulfilling our role.

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5 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur
New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Madam Speaker, our francophone communities in Canada have, over the past 25 years, acquired a maturity and an assurance that our colleagues in the opposition do not seem to suspect. They want and they can take into their hands their own future and, to do that, they have a new tool, the Canada-communities agreements, which are proof of continued direct support by the Canadian government.

The needs of official language minority communities, like those of any other groups of Canadians, are increasing, whereas the resources of the Department of Canadian Heritage, like those of every other department, are decreasing. The challenge is to fill the gap between needs and resources.

In 1994-95, the Department of Canadian Heritage dealt head on with this challenge, which was all the bigger because the department could not have disregarded 25 years of close co-operation to impose some procedures to communities.

As it realized that it could not and should not stop its action, the department undertook to redefine its direct support to official language communities while trying to find with them new ways to operate in order to be more efficient than ever.

The exercise was launched with the release, in May 1994, of a discussion paper dealing with a redefinition of the relations between the department and its client groups to enhance confidence in the future. This was essentially meant to redefine the relations between the department and the official language communities on a basis that reflects the maturity acquired over the years. The department established a new partnership that would preserve the major contributions of the past and would allow the communities to continue to grow. All that in spite of the fact that the public funding could not keep increasing as it did in the past.

Keeping in mind its constitutional and legislative commitments and its obligations in other such areas as, for example, interdepartmental joint action, the department proposed to the communities various possible solutions that could lead to new co-operation and funding mechanisms taking into account the ever decreasing resources.

Consultations were held with communities in all the provinces and territories and with national French language organizations. A lot of people took part in these consultations, including many community organizations.

Some points in particular were raised. For instance, organizations recognized the need to act very soon considering the new budget realities; communities said they were ready to explore a new partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage as well as to consult more and set real priorities; they expressed consider-

able interest for mechanisms based on an enhanced managing role for the communities; the organizations recognized that to apply the same budget cuts everywhere would not be efficient and that we needed a better approach; they thought this was a necessary and useful process only if we found mechanisms to meet the new development needs of the communities.

These francophone minorities have shown great maturity and a deep sense of responsibility. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, as my hon. colleagues opposite would have hoped for it seems, they worked with the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop the terms of a new co-operative approach, the Canada-community agreements.

These agreements help to better take into consideration the different needs of the official language minorities from various provinces and various areas. These differences do have an impact on the ways to ensure the development and growth of the communities.

Increased co-operation will help the communities to develop a vision based on their needs and to reach a consensus over their priorities in terms of development. The Department of Canadian Heritage subsidies will be allocated in accordance with this vision.

The department can thus ensure that its support goes towards issues viewed as priorities by the communities themselves, while at the same time involving the communities in the realization of projects and the attainment of results. By turning to those who have the greatest and most genuine stake in the matter, the department achieves better results.

There is no doubt that the results thus obtained, whether in the fields of culture, communications, the economy, education, or whatever, make it possible for our francophone communities outside Quebec not just to survive, but to affirm their vitality throughout the country. Thanks to their schools, their artists, their business people and their institutions, they are increasingly recognized as "value added" for their province or territory, where, furthermore, they are making quite a name for themselves.

Our government will therefore be supporting the francophone economic forum to be held in Beauce this fall, which will showcase their energy and desire to excel in the economic field, by creating exchanges and sharing their experiences with francophones throughout the country. Taking charge of their own destiny and taking it one step further are another sign of their vitality.

The Department of Canadian Heritage also recognizes that the consolidation of the communities' long term development requires that efforts be made to increase their independence from government funding by promoting the development of their capacity to themselves fund any measures they wish to take.

The efforts of the Department of Canadian Heritage will therefore not stop with the signing of the Canada-communities agreements. Our government remains strongly committed to providing to official language minority communities the support and the tools they need to continue to develop and flourish.

By devising a new way of managing their relationship, official language minority communities and the Department of Canadian Heritage have one more tool at their disposal to fill the gap between their respective expectations and resources.

Needless to say, the success of this initiative largely depends on the spirit of co-operation that has driven the two parties concerned for a quarter of a century now.

In my province of New Brunswick, the federal government's commitment has allowed the Acadian community to develop and flourish at exceptional levels. The federal government supports our cultural groups, our museums, our universities, our community associations, our school-community centres, and so on.

Therefore, it is very disappointing to see that members opposite continue to ignore such determination and such goodwill and to be blind to the increasingly vigorous presence of francophone communities outside Quebec.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to listen to my colleague, my neighbour from across the bay. I should explain to the public, and particularly to the hon. members in the House, that right across from my riding of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, across Chaleur Bay on the south shore, you find the distinguished gentleman who is among us today.

I should point out that there are very close links between the Gaspé peninsula, the Magdalen Islands, and of course the Acadian people who are rather well represented here in the House. There are Acadians to be found not only in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, all the maritimes, but also in the province of Quebec and elsewhere in Canada.

I would like to hear the parliamentary secretary describe some of the changes that have taken place in his province. The words of some of the opposition members have revealed their ignorance of the existence of a vibrant community, one that is working hard to improve its future. I feel that they have a most promising future, moreover.

I can tell you that a great deal is being accomplished in New Brunswick in connection with multimedia and the information

highway. I must admit there are even some Quebec government ministers who are envious of what the francophone community of New Brunswick has accomplished. Unfortunately for us, although their programs have been working very well, I feel, for a quarter of a century now, we have not been able to adapt them.

I have been listening to the hon. member for Mercier, who was telling us that an independent sovereign Quebec will put in place a program to assist francophone communities, since it has a Quebec model. I would point out that the hon. member for Mercier served as a minister in the Parti Quebecois government during the 1980s.

And you know that the PQ model, then and now, is openness to the cultural communities. In other words, the percentage of allophone and anglophone public servants, which has been 1 per cent for the past ten years, is to be brought to close to 5 per cent, which is a proportion equivalent to the allophone and anglophone population in Quebec.

Unfortunately, hardly 2 per cent of the Quebec public service are anglophones and allophones. I do not believe that the model proposed by the hon. member for Mercier could be applied to the whole francophone population of Canada. I believe we should look at the successes of New Brunswick which has come a long way in the past 25 years.

I had the opportunity to discuss this with former Premier Robichaud who sits in the other place. I respect his work and I admire the efforts made by the Government of New Brunswick to enhance the image and role of the Acadian community in this province. In my opinion, this is the model to follow.

We must not forget that the Gaspé Peninsula and northern New Brunswick have fairly close ties. I believe that the exchanges between families and fishermen now extend to business. Increasingly, we see joint ventures with several well-known figures of the business world in northern New Brunswick.

I believe several developments occurred in recent years. I do not want to use up all the time I have, but I would ask the member to explain to us the changes he has witnessed since his childhood. I would ask him to describe what has happened and what it still going on in New Brunswick.

I think we might apply this model not only in Quebec but throughout Canada. This is why I look forward to the speech by the parliamentary secretary.

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5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I am sorry, but the five minute question and comment period following the hon. member's speech has expired.

Resuming debate with the hon. member for Argenteuil-Papineau.