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Evidence of meeting #32 for Official Languages in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was roadmap.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Graham Fraser  Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Sylvain Giguère  Assistant Commissioner, Policy and Communications Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Lise Cloutier  Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Management Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

9:35 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I believe we are also very much aware of the difference from the standpoint of accountability and the reporting process. Some departments have very clearly stated in their departmental performance reports what they have done and spent, while others have made no mention of that. So it's quite difficult to follow the progress of those programs based on public documents.

At one point, we talked about a lack of horizontal coordination. The government responded by introducing a horizontality report. That's very important. However, it's still a balance. We have to be consistent in the way we conduct consultations.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Considering that desire for consistency, do you think the report that eventually appears can be credible?

9:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Pardon me, but I missed the start of your question.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Given all the inconsistencies just mentioned, can the upcoming report on the evaluation of the roadmap be credible?

9:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Everything depends on the process. We haven't reached the end. Some departments say they are conducting the evaluation. So everything will depend on the process that Canadian Heritage and the specific institutions use when they make their reports.

I can't comment on the credibility of reports I haven't seen.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

We're talking about methodology. No one has seen the report, but we can imagine the main points or findings that might be made if the evaluation is conducted dichotomously.

Let's move on to another subject. I would like to hear what you have to say about the Canada School of Public Service. Among other things, there was one project that I found very interesting. I believe $2.5 million was allocated to a program to train university students in their second language so they could eventually enter an already bilingual public service where candidates would already be bilingual. No one can be opposed to virtue. I even think this is a praiseworthy objective in the long term. However, between today and the day that objective is achieved, I will have had the time to serve out my entire career, and perhaps more.

In more concrete terms, we are seeing on a daily basis that the expertise of the Canada School of Public Service has been removed. I believe the public service must be a leader in bilingualism. If we can't have a bilingual public service in Ottawa, it will be hard to send the message to the rest of the country. What are your comments on the job cuts at the language school?

9:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

First, this is the culmination of a process that started about six years ago. We are conducting a study on language training offered in government. We will be taking a close look at the impact of making the departments accountable and decentralizing the language training process.

In my view, what is important are the results of language training. I'm not in a position to say clearly that one approach is better than another. We will be able to discuss that once we've finished and published our study.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Aubin.

Thanks to you as well, Mr. Fraser.

We'll suspend for five minutes.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

We are continuing the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Mr. Gourde has the floor.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will continue asking my questions on the same subject because I didn't get to what I wanted to say.

What do you think would be the benefits of involving the official language minority communities in the 150th anniversary festivities?

9:45 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I believe that would be very important, just as the involvement of the official language minority communities was a very important aspect of the Vancouver Olympic games. The communities took part in the Olympic torch relay and in the cultural events. They were involved to a significant degree in the planning, implementation and celebrations that took place in Vancouver.

This is a very useful model that will have to be looked at closely during the planning for the 2017 celebrations.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

If the committee decided to conduct a study, would your office be prepared to submit a list of potential witnesses to us along with your opinions and suggestions for such a study?

9:50 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

I'm always available for consultations, official or informal. I'm proud to make myself available to answer questions from members or the committee.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thinking back, do you think there are any overall benefits of linguistic duality associated with events that have marked the history of our country, whether it be Expo 67, the Olympic games or other events, that could be developed or even pushed a little further in the context of the 150th anniversary festivities?

9:50 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Since that's quite an important question, I'm reluctant to give you a definitive response off the top of my head. I was very young at the time of Expo 67, but what struck me was that the two official languages were part of the very atmosphere of the celebrations. You mentioned that the same was true for the July 1st celebrations.

Full bilingualism has always been the case at those celebrations. Matthew Hayday, who is a professor of history at the University of Guelph, has described in his studies how the July 1st celebrations have represented Canada throughout its history. It is fascinating to see how the planning for an event of this kind is an opportunity for the country to reflect on its history, to represent itself in the present and to look to the future. The organization of this kind of event, which seems quite simple, is in fact very important from a symbolic standpoint.

To determine exactly what aspects of the country we will want to present to Canadians and the rest of the world in 2017, I believe we will have to conduct a more in-depth analysis of past celebrations.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Would it be advantageous to promote Canadian unity at those festivities?

March 15th, 2012 / 9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I believe we're currently studying the road map on linguistic duality, not the Canada 150 celebrations. That is a suggested study topic for the committee to undertake when we've completed this study. Perhaps the member can keep it relevant to the study we're currently undertaking.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you for that point of order. I've given members a great deal of latitude in asking questions.

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

We've had 10 minutes of questions on a study we're not doing right now.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

That is true, but there have been many questions about Radio-Canada, and things like that. I think if it's tangentially related to the road map it's permissible. I'm going to allow Monsieur Gourde to continue.

Thank you for your intervention.

Monsieur Gourde.

9:55 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Could you repeat the question?

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Yes. To respond to Mr. Harris, I note that, at the start of my questions, I talked about the importance of the festivities in the context of the next roadmap. There are no doubt synergies to develop in that area.

Would it be advantageous to promote Canadian unity at the upcoming celebrations?

9:55 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Absolutely. I believe it is essential for linguistic duality to be an integral part of those celebrations, both when they are planned and when they are held.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

All right.

Thank you, Mr. Gourde and Mr. Fraser.

Mr. Harris.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Fraser and colleagues, for appearing today again on the same study.

How many months ago did you last present to the committee?