Madam Speaker, thank you for your kind description of my speech.
Today is the second time I rise in the House to speak to the bill to modernize official languages. What parliamentarians are trying to do here today is establish rules to stop the decline of French, protect it and promote it. I am obviously talking about the modernization of the Official Languages Act.
Of the two official languages, French is definitely the more vulnerable. It is clear that we will be speaking more French. However, I think we need to take pride in living in a country that is unique in its bilingualism, French and English, and we need to safeguard this unique character. Our country must still have two official languages in 50 years.
I am concerned about what this government wants to do. In recent weeks, very specific actions have shown us that this government is insensitive, it is not paying attention, and it has no intention of really protecting French, promoting it and stopping its decline. I have many examples to talk about. The list is very long, but I will try to restrain myself.
The Liberal government appointed a unilingual lieutenant governor in 2019, since that falls under its purview. She actually is bilingual, but her other language is not the second official language of our country. That is the first inconsistency I wanted to point out. It is rather odd.
A provincial court judge in New Brunswick recently ruled that it was unconstitutional to appoint a unilingual anglophone lieutenant governor. We were pleased with that ruling. We realize that we are in a bilingual country. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. However, the government appointed a unilingual lieutenant governor, so obviously that was wrong.
We learned this week that the federal government is going to appeal that ruling because it argues that it makes no sense and does not hold up under the pretext that it is not a provincial matter. The only body that can enforce bilingualism in our country at this time is the federal government, and it is fighting a decision that would help it enforce bilingualism. Three Liberal members from the Atlantic provinces have even publicly challenged their own government's decision. It is rather odd. Even within the party in power, people are worried.
To add insult to injury, once again the government is challenging a ruling on the protection of French. That is rather odd. I should also point out that, just recently, the government made a veiled attempt to challenge the Federal Court of Appeal ruling of January 2022 to allow francophones in British Columbia to have access to services in French. It is rather peculiar that the Attorney General of Canada wants to appeal this Supreme Court of Canada ruling.
There are also the press conferences that are held in English only by certain Canadian government ministers. I would remind members that this is a bilingual country that speaks French and English. When the Minister of Environment and Climate Change's briefing was released, Hélène Buzzetti tweeted that the information was issued in English only. However, we are probably the ones who are worried for no reason. Everything is just fine.
I am sure that deep down, the Minister of Official Languages, a woman I respect, is trying to protect bilingualism in Canada, but she has to fight for it within her own party. She is a representative from New Brunswick.
This week, after refusing several times to answer journalists' questions, she was forced to say that she supported her government's decision to challenge the ruling on the matter of the Lieutenant Governor.
Here in the House, members are asking numerous questions about bilingualism and the French language. We see who will answer the questions. The Minister of Official Languages is always ready to answer, but she is being cut off and the floor is being given to someone else. That is rather strange.
I read and reread Bill C‑13, and it includes some good measures. As my colleague from Rimouski‑Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques was saying earlier, it contains some positive elements. However, it is not much when we think about what needs to be done to stop the decline of French and protect and promote the language of Molière. We need to work.
In my first speech the other day, I said that I was reaching out to the government to help it so that we can have real legislation with real teeth. As I have said before, Bill C‑13 is pretty wimpy. Canada's French colony needs legislation that packs a real punch, legislation with real teeth, so that we have the measures and regulations we need to protect the French fact in Canada.
I repeat that I have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee on Official Languages. The last time the Official Languages Act was modernized was in 1988 when the Conservative Party of Canada was in office. We are prepared to work with the government. We intend to protect the French fact and to suggest good amendments to the bill. I invite all parties to participate in the committee study of Bill C‑13.
On this Friday, I state loud and clear that the Conservative Party of Canada is prepared to reach out to the Liberal government so that we can get the job done right and protect the French fact in North America.