House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was icsid.

Topics

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote the Commissioner of Official Languages, who congratulated our Prime Minister on his “exemplary behaviour” both in Canada and abroad.

With that in mind, here is what former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said about francophones: assimilation is a fact of life. Moreover, he said that on the sidelines of the Francophone Summit in Moncton.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, a misquote is a poor defence.

On the very day that the Commissioner of Official Languages has condemned the political will of this government, the Prime Minister has shut down the Standing Committee on Official Languages. What a show of contempt for official languages and for linguistic minorities.

Will the Prime Minister ask his MPs to return to the committee? When will they begin dealing with this government's flouting of the Official Languages Act?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is playing political games with the committee and will not allow the members to continue their fine work.

The Conservative members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages feel that the current chair, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, is carrying out his responsibilities in an exemplary manner. The chair is chosen from the Conservatives, as per the Standing Orders.

It is up to the Conservative members of the committee to choose the chair, just as the Liberals choose who they wish to have as leader.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the report he issued today, the Commissioner of Official Languages said that the government is not walking the talk on official languages. Commissioner Graham Fraser stated that a number of federal departments take a blatant laissez-faire attitude toward complying with the Official Languages Act. Once again, he made specific mention of the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and Air Canada.

It is good that the Prime Minister begins his scrums in French, but what tangible actions does he plan to take to enforce the Official Languages Act within the federal administration?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has proposed another $30 million, which will be made available directly to minority communities to help them keep their language in Canada. But nothing could weaken French and bilingualism in Canada as much as Quebec's separation from Canada. That would be a huge mistake.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will never weaken the official languages as much as the government is doing at present, and it is in power.

Commissioner Fraser condemned this government for eliminating the court challenges program, which enabled francophone communities to win respect for their rights.

The Prime Minister has a golden opportunity to correct that mistake. Will he take action to restore this program, which all the minority communities throughout Canada and Quebec want?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Commissioner Fraser's report notes a number of problems in the administration of official languages, and the government will look at that report. However, he also noted a number of successes and indicated that many departments are performing well.

This government's priority is not to pay lawyers; it is to provide services directly to minority language communities.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages is concerned about the backsliding in many departments. Think of the panels filled with errors in French at Vimy, the appointment of a unilingual English ombudsman for victims of crime, and the elimination of compulsory bilingualism for the senior ranks of the army. In a word, the situation is getting worse.

What does the Prime Minister have to say to the commissioner, who feels that the Conservative government is trampling the rights of linguistic minorities?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, I could not be more surprised by the comments of the Bloc member. When the time came to vote on Bill S-3, the Bloc voted against it. In addition, the Parti Québécois government always refused to participate in the Ministerial Conference on Canadian Francophonie. It took a federalist government in Quebec to enable Quebeckers to participate in the Canadian Francophonie.

I would like to know what the Bloc did, in regard to its relations—perhaps harmonious in those days—with the Parti Québécois to ensure that Quebec took part.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-3 infringed on the jurisdiction of Quebec and they refused to listen to us. That said, the attitude of the Conservative government toward the Standing Committee on Official Languages also concerns the commissioner. The government decided not to replace the chair of the committee, with the result that the committee has simply disappeared. And what was the reaction of the government whip? “Good riddance”. Those are his words.

Do these scornful words of the whip not support the comments of the commissioner, who criticized this government for being slow to respect—

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Honourable Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages has the floor.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, once again the Bloc suddenly rises to the defence of francophones outside Quebec and the Canadian Francophonie. The one thing we do not know is whether it only took them 30 hours to change their minds this time.

One thing is certain. I encourage the member to talk with his colleague from Papineau who made fun of the efforts of my colleagues to learn French, and who called their French unacceptable at the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Canadian Companies
Oral Questions

May 15th, 2007 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has done nothing to prevent the foreign takeover of Canadian giants like Alcan. Yesterday, we learned that St. Lawrence Cement was slated for takeover by Swiss interests. But in response to pressure from the NDP, the Minister of Finance announced yesterday that a panel of experts will be appointed to look into the loss of Canadian companies.

Could the Minister of Finance tell us when this panel will be appointed, and who these experts are? Will this panel report to Parliament?

Canadian Companies
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Beauce
Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the leader of the NDP that this is an initiative that we launched in the budget. It is rather sad to think that some may have waited until today to start reading the budget.

Having said that, we will be working on setting up this committee as soon as possible, and we will inform the House and the public at large as soon as the committee members are appointed.

Canadian Companies
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the minister and the government are taking their time appointing someone to a committee to look at a problem, thousands of Canadians are losing their jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Fifty-two thousand workers have lost their jobs in manufacturing since January. Sure, exports are up and profits are up, but workers are being thrown out of their jobs.

The fact is that the Prime Minister is doing nothing about it. We could look at Hamilton, where Slater Steel is closing down, or Windsor, with the sale of Chrysler, or Kitimat or Saint-Jean, with Alcan's takeover.

People are losing their jobs. It is a crisis. It is the Prime Minister's job to do something about it.