An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (Supreme Court of Canada)

Sponsor

François Choquette  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of Oct. 31, 2017

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Official Languages Act in order that the requirement to understand both official languages also apply to the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Official LanguagesAdjournment Proceedings

November 2nd, 2017 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again on the subject of the Official Languages Act and respect for our official language minority communities across the country.

On June 1, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage about her rather dismal record when it comes to official languages. A number of issues were raised, including the partisan appointment of Madeleine Meilleur, which was quite a fiasco. Despite all her great qualities, Ms. Meilleur was not the right choice for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages. She finally came to that conclusion herself and withdrew. Another issue were some errors that appeared in the French version of the Prime Minister's biography, not to mention the fact that the use of French is dwindling in the public service. A report was recently published about that.

Let us talk about the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. For nearly four days, we had no Commissioner of Official Languages. That is unbelievable. June 17 was the end of the interim commissioner's mandate, and during all that time, we had no idea what was happening. Parliamentarians and Canadians had no Commissioner of Official Languages to address their concerns to. It was a dark time in the history of official languages, and right on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, which is coming up next year.

Four days later, the Minister of Heritage finally decided to extend the mandate of Ghislaine Saikaley, the acting commissioner of official languages. She has a new six-month contract now that the first six-month acting period has ended. The Minister of Canadian Heritage seemed to indicate that it would take roughly four months for everything to be resolved. July, August, September, and October have passed. We should have a new official languages commissioner by now, but we do not. Today, November 2, we still do not have any news about the process for appointing the official languages commissioner. The deadline is fast approaching and there is no progress, unfortunately.

What is more, the use of French is declining in the public service. This year, the commissioner received three times as many complaints about linguistic requirement violations in the federal public service. The absence of bilingualism in some management or supervisory positions prevents public servants from working in French. This is quite serious. I could go on about this because there is a lot to say on the matter, but since I am running out of time I will talk about something very serious that happened last week.

After supporting the bill on the bilingualism of Supreme Court justices three times, the Liberals unfortunately decided to vote against it now that they are in power. It is incomprehensible. They have no reason to oppose a bill that seeks to enhance the appointment criteria for Supreme Court justices to make sure they understand both French and English, the two official languages. That is why I have introduced two more bills, Bills C-381 and C-382, that seek to improve access to justice in both official languages.

Official Languages ActRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

moved for leave to introduce C-382, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (Supreme Court of Canada).

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat less pleased to introduce this bill because, last week, the Liberals defeated Bill C-203, the bill that would have required Supreme Court justices to understand both official languages, despite the fact that they had previously voted in favour of it three times. This time, unfortunately, they defeated the bill, so now we have to do something else.

Now, we can amend the Official Languages Act, which may help the situation but will not resolve everything. It would be a good step forward anyway, and that is why I am introducing Bill C-382, an act to amend the Official Languages Act (Supreme Court of Canada). This bill would amend section 16 of the Official Languages Act so that it also applies to the Supreme Court of Canada. If this bill passes, all federal courts will be responsible for ensuring that judges hearing a case understand the parties' official language of choice without the help of an interpreter. This is a good step forward, but it will not resolve everything. We will have to form government ourselves and introduce another bill like Bill C-203 to fix the problem, so that everyone can access the Supreme Court in the official language of their choice.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)