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Evidence of meeting #33 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 portal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Donna Achimov  Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Marc Olivier  Manager, Translation Bureau, Linguistic Services Division, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Jeff Moore  Vice-President, Policy, Partnerships and Performance Management, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Lisa Marie Perkins  President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
Justin Morrow  Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French
Robert Rothon  Executive Director, National Office, Canadian Parents for French
Susan Anzolin  Director General, Innovation and Economic Development, Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

That's good, because I can see that it certainly has a place in schools across Canada, particularly those that are in isolated parts of the country, where there's no access to people who can work through that area.

I have one question for Mr. Morrow. Did you say you only had funding for two projects?

10:30 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

That's what we have so far.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Why was that? Did you just run out of money?

10:30 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

No, that was just the timing, the way things go. We have to prove ourselves. I have nothing against the fact that we've had only two, except that there was one whole year where we missed out on funding because we had just started and we didn't meet the deadline. That was why I suggested an innovative fund for individuals with good ideas so that somebody can do that.

Our first grant was there at the beginning. That allowed us to test. For our second grant, we had these grand ideas and they gave us $60,000. We wanted more, but this is what we started with, and with that everything changed again. Those two grants allowed us to streamline our processes to the point where we now have one solid, concrete thing that we hope we're going to be able to roll out. We have two applications on the table right now that we hope will get approved, and then we can start to go forward with something concrete and feasible.

So before we might have been a little too much in the clouds, but those two have really streamlined us into doing something concrete.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Good. Thank you.

Thanks, Chair.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Monsieur Aubin.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I said that I would have questions for the representatives of Canadian Parents for French, and here we are, in my second round.

I really appreciated what I have heard from you this morning. I am a former teacher from Quebec. In 25 years of teaching, I found it quite easy to see the students' motivation for learning a second language, which was English in our area. It's obvious if you want to surf the Internet; it is the language of business, of research, of science. Learning English is almost second nature; it is more than a second language for us, it is a necessity. But my students were also interested in other languages; they talked to me about Spanish and Mandarin and so on. How do you succeed in promoting French as a second language in an English-speaking environment?

I find what you are telling me to be refreshing, but the statistics tell us that we have not reached the targets we set for ourselves. Is French really the second language? Are people not tending towards Spanish, or Mandarin, or German, and so on, for a second language? How do you see things in your communities?

10:30 a.m.

President, National Office, Canadian Parents for French

Lisa Marie Perkins

Thank you.

We feel that you have to give parents and school systems the information they need to make the choice.

I have many parents who come and ask me exactly that question of why French, why not Spanish, or why not Mandarin or something else. I think that has a lot to do with misinformation, or perhaps a lack of information, on our part, as to the benefits of French.

First of all, as I tell them, French is the only other language, besides English, spoken on every continent. It is truly another international language.

They always ask if French is harder to learn than Spanish or Japanese.

My answer is always, no, a second language is always a second language.

The benefit of learning French is that we have the opportunity to be immersed.

We have resources like Radio-Canada, TERMIUM and the activities that

that Justin Morrow and Canadian Youth for French offer students. They're getting the benefits of an enhanced program that we, only in Canada, can offer.

Three, from a purely nationalistic perspective, French is our other language, and it gives us the opportunity to participate fully in the experience of being Canadian.

As Robert said earlier, we see it as the springboard to being plurilingual. By learning both languages, we are open to learning more. By being diverse in both, we are able to be diverse in the world.

I think it's our bilingualism, in reality, when immigrants are choosing Canada. They know that we work hard—sometimes maybe not as successfully as we would like—at embracing both sides of ourselves. They know that we can accommodate others in a very comforting and nice way. We have a lot of practice at it.

I think that's a big part of our economic advantage to the world.

10:35 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Just as they say, French is a springboard to other languages, and we strongly believe that. Start with French and then expand your horizons after that.

In Canada we're extremely fortunate to have the network already in place. We have the teachers, the radio stations, the TV stations, the Internet—all of the resources are already in French. If we are to learn a second language, it should be French first.

Then, once we've established that second language, learning a third language is so much easier. As Canadian Parents for French said, French is a springboard to other things. With the network that's already in place, it just makes sense.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

You said earlier that you received money for two projects. The first was for $45,000, but you did not have time to talk about the second. You look like someone who has very concrete ideas. Have you had any funding projects turned down?

10:35 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

No, we have not.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Did you have another question, Mr. Aubin?

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Do I have any time left?

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Yes.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

I thought that my time had run out. But if I have some left, I have a lot of questions I could ask.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Fine, but be quick.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

This is for the representatives from Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Given the attrition you mentioned earlier, departments are having more and more of their translation work done by private companies. Do those companies have to be registered with Public Works and Government Services Canada?

10:35 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Donna Achimov

All companies that do business with the Government of Canada have to go through a procurement process.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

That is all the questions I have now, really.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Your turn, Mr. Menegakis.

March 27th, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I also would like to welcome all of you, and thank you for your presentations and for being here with us today. I found all of your presentations to be very interesting. In fact, there are a lot of good things happening.

As you know, we're studying the road map. The road map is an investment by our government of more than $1 billion. It's at the 60% point of its life, if you will, so we want to evaluate what the progress has been to date, and your presentations today certainly have shed a fair bit of light in that regard. We also want to see where we're going with the road map in the future, because as you know, its expiration is coming up in 2013.

I was very encouraged to hear from you, Ms. Achimov, and particularly to see the good work that has been done with road map money on the Language Portal of Canada. There have been 29 million hits. You can call them anything you want, but the bottom line is that there are 87,879 visitors per day on the site. That translates to 3,661 per hour. I did a little bit of a calculation on that. I think that's very impressive, especially since it has gone from 14 million to 29 million in a year, and we still haven't finished the numbers for this year. That's for only 11 months. Excellent work has been done on that.

With regard to FedDev, I think the seven initiatives you outlined and the work that's been done in southern Ontario in a very short period of time are certainly very impressive.

Regarding Canadian Parents for French, Mrs. Perkins, I have to tell you that it's wonderful to hear from you, particularly, a resident of Alberta. It's interesting that you brought up how some people say to you, “Why French and why not another language?” I suppose the best answer for that is that we have two official languages in this country. The French were founders of this land and of this country, and we want to promote linguistic duality throughout the country. That's the purpose of the road map. It's nice to know another language. I speak another language. My parents came here from Greece. It's great to be able to speak another language, but I think the priority is French, and that's the simplest answer we can give somebody.

Mr. Morrow, your personal story is very impressive. In a short period of time you've done very well. It seems to me as though there was this little box inside of you that one day—boom!—opened up, and you were able to be so successful.

I know I spoke a lot, but I have just a couple of questions.

The first is for you, Mr. Morrow. Tell me a little bit about your organization. You mentioned you don't have an executive right now, so you weren't able to do some of things you would have liked to do, although your presentation was very impressive. How big is your organization? How do you market your organization across the country?

10:40 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

Right now, we're waiting. We have our board of directors. There are five of us on the board. We have no executive staff. We have no membership.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

How were they elected?

10:40 a.m.

Founder and Executive Director, Canadian Youth for French

Justin Morrow

They were appointed. They were there from the very beginning. When we first submitted our papers to Corporations Canada, they were the ones who were there, and Mr. Andrew Molson was added to our board at a later time.

We have those. We haven't started a membership yet, because we've spent the past three years building a plan.

If we are accorded our next grant, which I hope we'll get the approval for soon so we can start to work, we're going to search across the country for a national board of directors of probably about 13 young people, who will be able to put us in contact with a select number of schools and school boards within their areas. We will market our services through those board members and put the schools and the school boards in touch with our executive staff through our board members. That's how we'll market our services to the students.