An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official Languages

An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 17, 2022

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Summary

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

Part 1 amends the Official Languages Act to, among other things,
(a) specify that all legal obligations related to the official languages apply at all times, including during emergencies;
(b) codify certain interpretative principles regarding language rights;
(c) provide that section 16 of that Act applies to the Supreme Court of Canada;
(d) provide that a final decision, order or judgment of a federal court that has precedential value is to be made available simultaneously in both official languages;
(e) provide for Government of Canada commitments to
(i) protect and promote French,
(ii) contribute to an estimate of the number of children whose parents are rights holders under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ,
(iii) advance opportunities for members of English and French linguistic minority communities to pursue quality learning in their own language throughout their lives, including from early childhood to post-secondary education, and
(iv) advance the use of English and French in the conduct of Canada’s external affairs;
(f) clarify the nature of the duty of federal institutions to take positive measures to implement certain Government of Canada commitments and the manner in which the duty is to be carried out;
(g) provide for certain positive measures that federal institutions may take to implement certain Government of Canada commitments, including measures to
(i) promote and support the learning of English and French in Canada, and
(ii) support sectors that are essential to enhancing the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities and protect and promote the presence of strong institutions serving those communities;
(h) provide for certain measures that the Minister of Canadian Heritage may take to advance the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society;
(i) provide that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is required to adopt a policy on francophone immigration and that the policy is to include, among other things, objectives, targets and indicators;
(j) provide that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of cooperating with provincial and territorial governments;
(k) provide that the Treasury Board is required to establish policies to give effect to certain parts of that Act, monitor and audit federal institutions for their compliance with policies, directives and regulations relating to the official languages, evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of policies and programs of federal institutions relating to the official languages and provide certain information to the public and to employees of federal institutions;
(l) enable the Commissioner of Official Languages to enter into compliance agreements and, in certain cases, to make orders; and
(m) enable the Commissioner of Official Languages to impose administrative monetary penalties on certain entities for non-compliance with certain provisions of Part IV of that Act.
It also makes a related amendment to the Department of Canadian Heritage Act .
Part 2 enacts the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act , which, among other things, provides for rights and duties respecting the use of French as a language of service and a language of work in relation to federally regulated private businesses in Quebec and then, at a later date, in regions with a strong francophone presence. That Act also allows employees of federally regulated private businesses to make a complaint to the Commissioner of Official Languages with respect to rights and duties in relation to language of work and allows the Commissioner to refer the complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board in certain circumstances. It also provides that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for promoting those rights. Finally, Part 2 makes related amendments to the Canada Labour Code .

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

May 30, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts
May 30, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (amendment)
May 30, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (subamendment)
May 20, 2022 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts

The House resumed from April 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:25 p.m.
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Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Greg Fergus LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C‑13, an act for the substantive equality of Canada's official languages. This is an important bill.

As we know, along with indigenous languages, English and French are at the heart of Canada's history and identity. They are a major part of our country's social, cultural and economic vitality. Our government has always emphasized the importance of official languages in Canada, and we consider them to be not only a solemn responsibility, but also a way of recognizing the diversity and inclusion that define our country.

As a proud francophile, Quebecker and Canadian who represents the wonderful riding of Hull—Aylmer, I know how important that responsibility is. I represent what is likely the most bilingual riding in the country. Not only do my constituents speak both French and English, but they speak them well.

Part of this responsibility includes promoting the spirit of the Official Languages Act. The act is not only important to members here and federal public servants, but it is important to all Canadians. It is a reflection of who we are. Our world is changing fast, and linguistic realities are changing too. The linguistic context is in the midst of a major transformation, making an in-depth reform of this law necessary.

The reality is that bilingualism has been part of Canada's identity from the very beginning. In fact, it was in 1867, the year of Confederation, that English and French became the official languages of the Parliament of Canada.

In the 1960s, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who also wore a bow tie, I might add, today being bow tie Thursday, established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. The commission made recommendations for measures to ensure that Canadian Confederation would develop based on the principle of equality between francophones and anglophones in Canada. Those same recommendations would later form the basis of the very first version of Canada's Official Languages Act, which passed in 1969, the year I was born.

For the first time, the act made English and French the official languages in Canada, not just of Parliament, but of Canada. It stated that Canadians had the right to access federal services in the official language of their choice.

In 1988, the new version of the Official Languages Act updated and clarified the linguistic rights of individuals and the obligations of federal institutions.

As the House knows, our government has taken important measures over the past few years, first by amending the official languages regulations for services to the public, and now with the Official Languages Act.

We held vast consultations with many stakeholders and we listened to what they had to say. Their comments were essential in the context of amending the regulations in order to make them more inclusive and representative of Canadian society.

These changes, which will be implemented over the next few years, will pave the way for the creation of some 700 new bilingual offices across the country. This is a big step forward in terms of providing services to Canadians in the official language of their choice.

Whether on the front lines or behind the scenes, our federal public servants provide these services. Every day, they communicate with Canadians in the official language of their choice. The government is committed to providing federal services in both official languages and to promoting a public service that fosters the use of French and English.

We have made significant progress because today's public service is much more bilingual than it was when I was born. Today, more than 90% of executives in the public service occupy bilingual positions. In surveys, most employees report that they feel free to use the language of their choice at work, but we know that the system is not perfect and that we must do better.

Bill C-13 marks an important step in the modernization and strengthening of the Official Languages Act. I would like to present the changes proposed by the bill.

The bill will do more than just give the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat the authority to monitor the compliance of federal institutions with their language obligations. In fact, it will require the department to do so.

What is more, the Treasury Board will work with the Department of Canadian Heritage to establish policies and regulations that will help federal institutions take positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and promote linguistic duality in Canadian society. These policies and regulations will also help to hold federal institutions accountable in this regard.

It will now be easier to ensure that federal institutions meet their official language obligations. This will also help to increase the linguistic capacity of our public service.

What do these changes mean for Canadians? They likely mean two big things: a greater number of services for all Canadians in the official language of their choice and greater emphasis on the needs of Canada's official language minority communities.

For the past 50 years, the Official Languages Act has not only given Canadians basic language rights but also shaped our country's identity. We are a country that respects and celebrates diversity and inclusion.

I think Canada made a unique choice, not on purpose, but out of necessity. The French arrived in the New World, the North American continent, and, thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the indigenous peoples, they survived frigid winters and came to understand that no one could go it alone here, that everyone had to work together.

When the British arrived in North America some time later, instead of absorbing the different societies, as they had done in many other countries, they made room for the French. They allowed the French to keep their culture, their education and their system of laws, and francophones were able to keep their identity as francophones. This makes Canada a country unlike any other.

I do need to point out a certain character trait that Canada has developed over the years, decades and centuries. We tend to accommodate others rather than simply forcing them to adopt our point of view. I think this is reflected in Canada's official languages, and we must promote them, especially for Canadians who belong to minority communities across Canada.

The Official Languages Act is more than just a law. It is a reflection of our country's evolution and a part of our Canadian identity. This bill strengthens bilingualism across the country to make sure that Canadians can access services in the official language of their choice.

I call on all members to work together and support this important bill.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hull—Aylmer for his speech. It is always a pleasure to remind him that I am one of his constituents when I spend the week in Ottawa. I stay in Hull, a sector of Gatineau, and he is my MP. I therefore regularly receive his always interesting and pertinent, if lengthy, newsletters in the mail. I just want to give my regards to my MP.

My colleague quite correctly highlighted the fact that Canada has been officially bilingual since its foundation, but that the Official Languages Act was adopted in 1969. We learned that this was the year of his birth, which is a fun bit of trivia.

He also noted that over 90% of senior executives in the public service are bilingual. In fact, I spoke last weekend with a high-ranking official from an important department who spoke perfect French despite having an English-sounding last name.

In his speech, my colleague talked about the various milestones, including how Prime Minister Pearson established a commission to study bilingualism and biculturalism and how the Official Languages Act was passed in 1969 under Prime Minister Trudeau. However, he forgot to include one thing in his historical overview and that is that, in 2015, the year he and I were both elected, his party's election platform provided for a review of the act. It took more than six years before his party delivered on that review.

Does he think his government was slow to act?

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will never admit to that. We took the time that was needed to do things right. I think it is important to make the right changes when modernizing this act.

The last time the act was reviewed was in 1988 under the Mulroney government. I commend Mr. Mulroney for updating the act, but that was 34 years ago. Back in 1988, I was a parliamentary page. I remember when this bill was amended.

It takes time to do things right. I am very proud of the proposals that have been made. I hope that all members are prepared to do their part to once again improve this bill.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, I would like to thank the member for Hull—Aylmer. I have sat with him at PROC and I have really enjoyed his interventions and his commitment to indigenous people's issues. I sat with him as I was at PROC replacing the MP for North Island—Powell River.

In my appreciation for his commitments to indigenous people, I was glad to see that there are protections for indigenous languages in the bill. I wonder if the member could elaborate on how indigenous languages will be protected through this bill.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me answer in the language in which the member addressed her question. I thank the member for Nunavut for the incredible work she has done. The member for North Island—Powell River is an extraordinary member of Parliament, but I have to say that the contributions the member for Nunavut has made in terms of what we are looking at on indigenous languages will truly be historic.

In the same vein, the update to this law is taking very big steps to protect and to promote indigenous languages. I think the member will be very happy to learn of the provisions in this bill that would allow us to take some really big steps to recognize the first peoples of this continent and to make sure they are able to continue expressing themselves in their language.

I have to say how important this is. Language is a world view. You know this, Mr. Speaker, in the incredible work that you have done in learning the other official language. We all know, those of us who have the pleasure of knowing different languages, that it changes the way we think. Any steps we can take to preserve and promote indigenous languages are steps well worth taking.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I would remind all hon. members here in the House that quick questions and short answers will allow more people to participate in the discussion.

The time for questions has expired, but I will try to give the hon. member for Manicouagan time for a short question.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, as someone who wants to take the time to do things properly and to consult, can my hon. colleague tell me why none of the Government of Quebec's requests were accommodated in this new version of the bill?

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, all stakeholders were listened to. Politics is about making choices, and I think that we arrived at a good compromise that reflects the vast majority of the suggestions we received.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

I have a small correction to make. I did not learn French; I come from a community with Acadian roots.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about your Acadian roots. As the member for the riding of West Nova, you represent two rather impressive francophone minority regions. We have had a chance to talk about this together. Some of my colleagues may get a chuckle out of this, but we talked about “par-en-haute” and “par-en-bas”, two Acadian-sounding names. Since I have known you, you have always supported and stood up for these francophone minority communities. The fact that you stood up this evening to remind us that you are a native Acadian, meaning that you are a native francophone, shows us how important the francophone fact is to you, not only in Nova Scotia, but across Canada. Thank you very much for clarifying that for us following the speech by my colleague from Hull—Aylmer.

This brings me to the topic of this Canadian Confederation, which was created in 1867, 155 years ago, through the union of two founding peoples, one francophone and one anglophone, with help from the first nations, of course.

What I want to talk about is this founding spirit, this spirit of co‑operation that still needs to be at the centre of government action today, 155 years later. In 2022, when we make laws and implement policies here in Canada, we must always keep in mind the fact that two nations, one francophone and one anglophone, decided to found this great country, Canada, together.

From the very beginning, one of the key aspects of this co‑operation has been the French language. French is part of Canada's identity. As I was saying, it is the federal government's responsibility to ensure that francophone communities thrive from coast to coast to coast.

I am thinking about Acadian communities, such as yours, Mr. Speaker, especially minority communities and the francophone communities “par-en-haute” and “par-en-bas”. I think that I will enjoy using these names. To give people some context, these names refer to St. Marys Bay and Argyle, if I am not mistaken.

Mr. Speaker, you see, we chatted a bit and you had the chance to describe that community to me.

There are also Franco-Ontarian communities, Franco-Manitoban communities, Franco-Saskatchewanian communities and Franco-Albertan communities. With one of my colleagues, I had the chance to visit some francophone communities in Alberta, such as the municipality of Falher. It is rather surprising.

When we travel around Alberta and enter a village in the middle of the province, we hardly expect to feel like we are in an entirely francophone community, yet that is reality, that is not just a feeling. We go out, we talk with people in shops and restaurants, and French is the dominant language.

There is still a wonderfully strong francophone presence in many regions of Canada. What we expect is for the federal government to take action, instead of being content to talk about the importance of francophone communities to Canada. It is time for action. Unfortunately, in the past, instead of taking action, this Prime Minister's Liberals have often turned a deaf ear to the demands coming from francophone communities and from Quebec.

They have been bragging for years about wanting to promote the Canadian francophonie, but it has to be said that, for some Liberals, francophones are a minority like any other. We must always stand up against this utterly false assumption. This goes back to the foundation of the Confederation.

The modernization of the Official Languages Act was pushed back year after year, in spite of the Liberals' promises to Canadians during the 2015 election campaign. For years, several francophone organizations, including the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, and official languages commissioners have called for an overhaul of the Official Languages Act.

Members will recall that the Liberals proposed a modernization in 2018. It was also a campaign promise in 2019. Finally, a first bill to modernize the act, Bill C-32, was tabled in June 2021. What happened to Bill C‑32? It died on the Order Paper because the Prime Minister chose, in the middle of summer and at the height of a pandemic, to call a pointless and costly election that forced us to start from scratch once again.

The last time the Official Languages Act was modernized, it was under Brian Mulroney, a Conservative prime minister who was also proud of his Quebec and francophone roots.

For decades, the Liberals and the Prime Minister have refused to recognize something that is essential to the survival of the French language. It is that, of the two languages that were originally spoken at Confederation, just one is threatened today. Let me be clear. The federal government must make it a priority to protect the French language and to keep protecting it. That is the role of the federal government.

The French language is more than just a simple means of communication. It is more than just the soul of the Quebec nation. It is the soul of Canada and it is a testament to our country's long history. The federal government has a duty to protect the French language and to ensure that it remains valued as part of the government's daily operations and in the enforcement of our laws and regulations. Those of us on this side of the House will not budge on that.

The Conservatives have been asking the Liberals for years to modernize the Official Languages Act. We proposed many measures to protect French in Quebec and the rest of Canada, meaning in minority communities. I want to commend my colleagues from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier and Richmond—Arthabaska for their outstanding work on the Official Languages Act file. They met with groups from all parts of Canada. They held discussions and sought out people's thoughts and opinions so that we would truly understand the reality of people living in French across Canada, mainly in Quebec, but also in other regions.

How do they live in French? Are they able to get services in French? Do they have enough support in French? Are they able to raise their families in French in other parts of Canada?

That is particularly important in rural areas and in francophone minority communities. I think that is something that the government overlooked in the current version of Bill C‑13.

In addition to wanting to modernize the act, we made other proposals, such as increasing the powers of the Commissioner of Official Languages. We want the Treasury Board to have the authority to ensure that the act is applied in all federal departments. We have also suggested that an official languages administrative tribunal be created to settle disputes involving the act, to impose stricter penalties on those who do not comply, and to add more stringent formal obligations to part VII of the act.

Then, we worked to provide federal funding to francophone post-secondary institutions in minority settings, such as the Université de Moncton, the University of Alberta's Campus Saint‑Jean, and the Université de l'Ontario français. We have also proposed a new budget envelope of $30 million per year, notwithstanding any future funding, and collaborating with the provinces to achieve these objectives.

With the official languages in education program, we increased support for French-language education at the elementary and high school levels to better reflect the demographic growth of francophone students. Yes, demographic growth is happening in several regions with minority francophone communities.

In addition, to ensure that the demographic weight of francophone minorities outside Quebec remains stable, we are setting out to increase the number of French-speaking immigrants, not only in Quebec, but across Canada.

These are some of the measures we put forward to protect minority francophones and their rights.

As the member for Hull—Aylmer said, the government did take its time, unfortunately. It took seven years to introduce its bill. It said it needed to do it right. Unfortunately, despite seven years of consultations, pressure and advice, it seems the government did not really listen to what people directly affected by the Official Languages Act reform want.

Several key points were left out by the Liberal government, but I will talk about those a little later.

This took seven years of work. However, it seems that a few months were wasted on things other than the Official Languages Act.

In our view, Bill C‑13 is a rather weak legislative response to the decline of French in this country. As we have already pointed out, what is needed are real reforms, not just minor tweaks.

As it took seven years of work, we were expecting the Liberal bill to deal with the whole picture, the entire issue, all the problems and all the situations. However, it seems that the key reforms promised by the Liberals are unfortunately nowhere to be found in this bill.

As I said, the Liberals could have acted much earlier, not to introduce a bill, but to protect French in Canada. Our concern is not amending the bill or changing the regulations or rules and so on. Our role, and our aim, is to protect French in this country.

As currently drafted, Bill C‑13 will unfortunately not stop the decline of French, either in Canada or in Quebec.

As always, the Liberals are good at talking, but not so good at listening. They did not act on the advice that they received from francophone organizations, such as the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada. One of the things that the FCFA called for was the elimination of the division of powers between the Treasury Board and Canadian Heritage. This was a clear, concrete and specific request that would have given the reform of the Official Languages Act some teeth. I will come back to this a little later.

The bill has no teeth. The bottom line is that there is no obligation to deliver results. Bill C‑13 is full of good intentions, but it contains little that will really stop the decline of French. When certain situations arise, the government is not going to know who can do what. No one will be able to do anything to fix the situation.

Liane Roy, the president of the FCFA, said, “There are some significant gains, but some things still need to be worked on before we can say 'mission accomplished'.”

As my colleagues can see, I am not just saying negative things. Some people have had positive things to say, but others have been more scathing, saying that the bill should have gone much further.

The president of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario said that, compared with the previous bill, Bill C‑32, there are some improvements. It took a bit of time to make it better, but it is not good enough yet. More improvements are needed.

We identified six major problems with Bill C‑13.

The first is the government-wide coordination or the centralization of power in a single department. New subsection 2.1(1) makes the Department of Canadian Heritage responsible for “exercising leadership within the Government of Canada in relation to the implementation of this Act.” Everyone agrees that Canadian Heritage does not have the expertise to manage the other departments, unlike the Treasury Board. The Minister of Canadian Heritage can tell his colleagues to do this or that, but there is nothing he can do if they do not comply, except maybe refuse to give them flags for Canada Day. That is the only thing the Minister of Canadian Heritage can threaten his colleagues with.

If the Treasury Board had been made responsible for enforcing the act, it would be a whole different story. The Treasury Board is the one that holds the purse strings and authorizes all of the departments' spending. It is the one that oversees the other departments. The Treasury Board could have made the other departments implement the new version of the Official Languages Act. However, the government chose to go with the Department of Canadian Heritage. That is ineffective, and we think that only the Treasury Board should have been given the responsibility of implementing this act for many reasons that I will come back to at a later time.

Second, we are talking about promoting French and English. The act is being amended to set out federal commitments, specifically enhancing the vitality of minorities, promoting French and English, protecting French and expanding minority language learning. As I said, we believe that the term “commitment” and definitions of these commitments should be clarified. The Treasury Board should also be responsible for this aspect and for the entire act, as opposed to what is proposed in Bill C‑13. Furthermore, part VII of the act is not covered by the new power given to the Commissioner of Official Languages to issue orders, which is also problematic.

Third, we have immigration. The new clause 44.1 proposes that “the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration shall adopt a policy on francophone immigration to enhance the vitality of French linguistic minority communities in Canada”. However, there is no obligation to ensure that targets, objectives and indicators are met and respected. These are once again merely good intentions.

Fourth, the Commissioner of Official Languages is given three powers: to enter into a compliance agreement with federal institutions that contravene the act; to make an order directing any federal institution to rectify the contravention of part IV; and to impose administrative monetary penalties on a limited number of transportation companies offering passenger services that contravene part IV. We believe that these powers should extend to other parts of the act, specifically part VII. What is more, the maximum amount of these administrative monetary penalties is $25,000. We have to wonder what the deterrent effect of a $25,000 penalty would be for an organization like Air Canada, which had over $2 billion in revenue in 2021.

Fifth, the bill does not contain any obligation for the federal government to include language clauses in agreements made with other levels of government to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act, especially where federal transfers are involved, despite the fact that the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that agreements lacking language clauses were invalid. Maybe the government should have listened just a tiny bit.

Sixth, the bill includes an important part about federally regulated private businesses. It creates a new act called “An Act to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts”. In Quebec, businesses would have the right to choose between the Quebec regime and the federal one. In other words, businesses would have a choice between getting punished and not getting punished.

In our view, this bill needs improvement. For these reasons, I move the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, be not now read a second time but that the order be discharged, the bill withdrawn, and the subject-matter thereof referred to the Standing Committee on Official Languages.”.

In conclusion, Bill C‑13 does not constitute the reform the Liberals have been promising for years and does not fulfill those promises.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

The amendment is in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Outremont.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
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Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. We agree on several things, including on the fact that French is in decline across the country, including in Quebec.

My question is on the very tangible and important measures that our Bill C‑13 proposes in order to protect the French fact in official language minority communities from coast to coast to coast. The purpose of the bill is to allow communities to speak and celebrate French across the country.

My colleague just proposed an amendment that will delay the implementation of our bill. Does he not think that urgent action is needed and that we must act now to protect the French fact in Canada?

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my hon. colleague, but I have to say that there is something kind of ironic.

Although I agree with what she said about promoting French in official language minority communities, I find it ironic that she accused me of wanting to delay a bill, when it took the Liberals seven years to introduce Bill C‑13. They are the ones who decided to call an election rather than adopt the previous bill they had introduced in the House, Bill C‑32.

I proposed an amendment that would allow us to go further, to take into account all of the advice that was given by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and by Quebec, for example, and to give us more time to design a better bill. I am not asking for seven years. I am asking for it to be sent to parliamentary committee so that we can improve it and pass a better bill.

I think it is worth taking a few weeks to come up with a better bill for the good and the future of French in Canada.

An Act for the Substantive Equality of Canada's Official LanguagesGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2022 / 7:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Beaulieu Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rather pleasantly surprised by my colleague's speech. I am addressing my comments to him as a Quebecker because the Official Languages Act is likely the biggest impediment to the application of Bill 101 and to French as a common language in Quebec.

I will give an example. The Official Languages Act is based on the concept of an anglophone minority, when anglophones in Quebec are actually part of the English Canadian majority. I am not the only one saying that.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee rendered the following decision in 1993, and I quote:

A group may constitute a majority in a province [French Quebec, for example] but still be a minority in a State and thus be entitled to the benefits of article 27. English speaking citizens of Canada cannot be considered a linguistic minority.

The so-called “positive” measures under Part VII of the act translate into roughly $100 million in funding dedicated exclusively to strengthening English in Quebec, funding for English schools that are entitled to the same funding as French schools but that also get additional funding.

All of the organizations that spend their time saying or implying that Quebeckers are racist because they want to live in French are funded by the federal government. That includes the Quebec Community Groups Network.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that. Should the federal government continue to dedicate 100% of funding for official languages in Quebec to English communities?