Evidence of meeting #137 for Official Languages in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was languages.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Raymond Théberge  Commissioner of Official Languages, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Éric Trépanier  Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Management Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Ghislaine Saikaley  Assistant Commissioner, Compliance Assurance Branch, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Stéphanie Chouinard  Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Royal Military College of Canada and Department of Political Studies, Queen's University, As an Individual
Jack Jedwab  President and Chief Executive Officer, Immigration and Identities, Association for Canadian Studies and Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, As an Individual

April 2nd, 2019 / 12:55 p.m.


Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Jedwab, you spoke a lot about how bilingualism would help minority communities and how being more open to speaking both languages would obviously help the vitality of these communities. However, obviously it's not that easy.

I'm an anglophone from Quebec, and in Montreal both languages are spoken quite regularly; a lot of people speak English in Montreal. However, in other areas like Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and other cities across Quebec, these languages are not spoken, and they're not encouraged as much either. The government, such as the one that has been elected, barely has any seats in Montreal, so not much of their political capital is there. How can we help maintain these communities in these other areas? For example, the abolition of school boards will mainly affect the English-speaking minority.

In what ways do you think the federal government can act to help this situation, when obviously the people's voices won't necessarily be heard?

12:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Immigration and Identities, Association for Canadian Studies and Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, As an Individual

Jack Jedwab

I think there are challenges associated with advancing the condition of some of those communities, particularly the ones outside Montreal. There are also challenges for English speakers in Montreal, as we know. Again, these are all connected to the politics and jurisdictional disputes and respective interests of some of the elected officials as they determine that protection of French, which is a valid objective in Quebec, is in some ways threatened by the presence of the English language, and the communities that express themselves in that language. We've seen episodes of how that plays itself out.

I know the time's limited. The best way the federal government can help, in that there are administrative arrangements and understandings we know about.... One example of this is immigration. If you're an English-speaking immigrant and you come to Quebec, the extent to which you'll be recognized as such by the Government of Quebec is challenging, because of these administrative arrangements that everyone seems reasonably comfortable with not shaking up. The federal government can offer more resources in those areas to assist those communities in various ways to secure and continue to operate in their language without necessarily contravening the jurisdictional issues for Quebec.

One of the ways I was going to suggest to help communities in general is with investing considerably in technologies, at least as far as federal services are concerned, and ensuring that our technologies, which are going to increasingly be areas where people secure services, are provided in both English and French as widely as possible. This way, the geographic situation you find yourself in is at least in part remedied by our ability to furnish services. I want to ensure that my robots are bilingual. I think it's very important that my voice assistants, even though they pronounce “chemin Décarie” very badly, be able to communicate effectively in both languages.

As a country, we must invest considerably in ensuring that we maximize the opportunity for communities, given their geographic circumstances, to benefit to the best degree possible from the technologies that will in future provide a lot of services that would otherwise not be provided that way.

1 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Thank you, Mr. Jedwab and Ms. Chouinard, for your presentations and for the insight that you provided to committee members.

I want to thank you on behalf of everyone.

We'll now adjourn, and we'll continue our work at our next meeting on Thursday.