House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his report tabled yesterday, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, severely criticized the government for its failure to act in the official languages file. Yet, the same day, the Prime Minister decided to halt the activities of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the very committee that should be examining Commissioner Fraser's report.

Since the Prime Minister surely must have read the commissioners' report, why does he refuse to reinstate the Standing Committee on Official Languages, so that parliamentarians can do their job and hear Commissioner Fraser's recommendations?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, as I just said, the Conservative members of that committee are ready to get to work as quickly as possible, including the committee chair. I hope the Bloc members will do the same.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that member no longer has the confidence of the committee, because he did not want to hear certain witnesses. That is a fact.

Yet, one of the mandates of the Standing Committee on Official Languages is, in fact, to hear witnesses. It would have been interesting to invite people from the Montfort Hospital to come and talk about the importance of the court challenges program. Commissioner Fraser also harshly criticized the elimination of that program. Perhaps the Prime Minister does not want to hear any groups that appear before the committee to condemn certain things he has done.

Is this not why he refuses to reinstate the committee?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the committee and its chair are ready to meet at any time. However, it is strange to see the Bloc present itself as a staunch defender of Canadian bilingualism. The fundamental objective of the Bloc Québécois is to divide this country into two unilingual countries. We support a strong, bilingual country.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages criticized the elimination of the court challenges program. The Montfort Hospital and Alberta's French schools have both benefited from this program.

Is the government aware that in order to save 18¢ per year per person, it is taking away the right of women, homosexuals, aboriginals and immigrants, indeed, of all minorities, to equality? Why take away one of the only tools they have to ensure their rights are respected?

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, naturally, we are always surprised to hear the Bloc member portray himself as the great defender of minority communities outside Quebec. After all, during one of my appearances before the Standing Committee on Official Languages, he said that he had chosen his country and that that country was Quebec. I too have chosen my country. It is a country in which we promote linguistic duality. It is a country in which we have announced another $30 million dollars for minority communities in the latest budget.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, if this government really cares about the fate of minorities and francophones, it should explain why it eliminated mandatory bilingualism for senior military officers, why a unilingual anglophone was appointed the ombudsman for victims of crime and why the committee cannot discuss Mr. Fraser's report. It should explain its disdainful and indifferent attitude, which undermines democracy.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent
Québec

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, for years, the Bloc was indifferent to official language minority communities outside of Quebec.

In the fall of 2005, the Bloc voted against Bill S-3. We, however, have made a strong commitment to promoting linguistic duality, and we will continue to strive toward achieving that goal.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government's lack of respect for the elected Parliament, for us, is becoming increasingly obvious.

It is hindering the work of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs by not allowing it to vote. It is cancelling important work of the Standing Committee on Official Languages by refusing to appoint a competent chair. Furthermore, it is muzzling the opposition on the motion put forward by NDP on climate change.

Why this lack of respect toward us, the elected members? Why this lack of respect toward Canadians?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages is a proud franco-Ontarian who is devoted to this country. He does good work according to our members on the committee. It is unfortunate that he is being treated in such a partisan way.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the gulf between how the Prime Minister says he wants to run government and how he actually is doing it is getting wider all the time.

His members are shutting down committees. They are refusing to allow votes. They are filibustering. We have ministers misleading the House and they are not following the disclosure rules.

The latest move is to cut down the debate on climate change and the NDP's motion to get something done on the issue, cut it down from a day when there would have been eight hours of debate to a day when there would be only two.

Why? For retribution. Why the lack of respect? Is this what he meant by good government?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I reject every single thing the leader of the NDP has said. What I particularly reject are the personal attacks on the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. This is a strong franco-Ontarian who has done hard work on that committee under very difficult circumstances.

Our members on the committee have indicated to me that they have no desire to remove him. I wish the members of the other parties would simply get back to work at the committee because the Conservative members want to do that work.

Court Challenges Program
Oral Questions

May 16th, 2007 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the court challenges program defended minority community rights in Canada. One of the most renowned cases was of course the Montfort Hospital.

We remember how the environment minister kept silent when he was minister responsible for official languages in Ontario. In fact, he tried to shut it down and a whole community had to fight to save the only francophone hospital in the province. The community could not count on its minister but at least it had the court challenges program.

Will the Prime Minister now admit that without the court challenges program the three Mike Harris retreads on his front bench would have succeeded in shutting down the Montfort?

Court Challenges Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to be minister of francophone affairs when the Government of Ontario made an important decision to ensure that the Montfort Hospital not only stayed open but that it was expanded considerably by putting in more long term care beds.

I can tell the House that in making that decision I had the solid support of both the current finance minister and the current health minister as well.

Court Challenges Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, back when the members for Ottawa—Orléans and Glengarry—Prescott—Russell cared about the franco-Ontarian community, they supported the battle to save Montfort Hospital. Since the government decided to eliminate the court challenges program, they have remained silent. This clearly indicates that official language minorities are really not important to this government.

Will the Prime Minister immediately reinstate the court challenges program before another crisis shakes the Franco-Ontarian community?