This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

March 15th, 2012 / 10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Fraser, thank you for coming to speak to us today.

I have a bit of a personal question, I guess you could say, and I'd like your personal opinion and views as an answer.

My daughter, who is now 17 years old, has attended exclusively English-speaking schools. When she was going into kindergarten, I wanted to put her in a French school. We have in the Greater Toronto Area, where I live, both French schools and French-immersion schools, and either one would have been fine, but there was a French-immersion school close by. We were not allowed to send her there, because neither my husband nor I fluently speak French.

Do you believe that this requirement should be changed? I know I do, because I think that many parents like my husband and me would have loved having our children be bilingual. But because I don't speak French, my children were not allowed to attend that school.

This is just a personal question.

10:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Let me clarify. Did you want your child to go to the French school, as opposed to the French immersion school?

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Either would have been acceptable. I wasn't allowed to send her to either.

10:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time I've heard of an immersion school blocking the admission of a child because parents did not speak French. For the French-language schools it is a different situation, because admission to the minority-language schools, whether it's English schools in Quebec or French schools outside Quebec, is governed by section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is a right that is defined and limited to those who were educated in that language in Canada.

Mr. Chairman, I don't have the time to go through the whole history of section 23, but I'm astonished to hear that your child was not allowed to go to an immersion school.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

That makes sense. I can understand that a fully French school would not want parents who didn't understand the materials that come home and so on. I have a feeling that the school boards in Ontario don't operate, or don't seem to operate in practice, according to the law. They seem to have subtleties in policy based on the region.

10:40 a.m.

Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Graham Fraser

Again, this is part of the difficulty I have in following the consistency of federal funding and provincial policy, because different school boards will do different evaluations of what is the significant demand that they need to respond to in terms of funding, expanding, or supporting immersion schools.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

It's clearly not a funding issue, but I understand what you're saying.

Thank you.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Okay.

It is exactly 10:45 a.m. So we are out of time.

Thanks to all our witnesses. Mr. Fraser, Mr. Giguère and Ms. Charlebois, Ms. Tremblay and Ms. Cloutier, thank you for your testimony.

This meeting is adjourned.