Evidence of meeting #81 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 process.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Yes.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

The next motion is from Mr. Choquette and reads as follows:

That the committee write to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to ask for a written response explaining the delay in the appointment process for the Commissioner of Official Languages; and that the response be sent to the committee by the end of 2017.

I imagine you have read the newspapers in this regard.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

That can wait until Tuesday.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Mr. Choquette, you have the floor.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, there are some things about this that I do not understand. When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Mr. Mendicino, appeared before the committee, he said that the process for the appointment of the new Commissioner of Official Languages is open and transparent. This morning, however, the newspapers reported a rumour about the identity of the next Commissioner of Official Languages. I do not see transparency or openness. That is why I would like to introduce the following motion—

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Just a minute, Mr. Choquette. I have to deal with the motion before me before moving on to another one.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Chair, from what I have heard, my colleagues wish to debate this on Tuesday. I agree.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

So you agree to postpone debate on this motion until next Tuesday?

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I agree.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

That is what we will do then.

Please go ahead, Mr. Choquette.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

If I may, Mr. Chair, I would like to introduce another motion, which seems very important to me given the lack of transparency surrounding the appointment of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

The motion is as follows:

That the Committee denounce the non-compliance with subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act regarding consultation with the official opposition leaders on the appointment of the new Commissioner of Official Languages; and that it report this to the House before the end of the year.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Mr. Arseneault, please go ahead.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Is the meeting public at this moment?

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Yes.

November 23rd, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.

Liberal

René Arseneault Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

What my colleague François Choquette said angers me. From the information I have received, the opposition parties were consulted. There was a leak. This morning, for instance, I was on a teleconference with government officials from my province and they said they had seen the name of someone who had apparently been appointed Commissioner of Official Languages. That is how I learned about this. I was not aware of this. It caused me to raise an eyebrow. I wondered what was going on.

Let me return to what our colleague François Choquette said initially. The parliamentary secretary said that the appointment process for the Commissioner was transparent and open. The process of soliciting applications is not secret: everyone is invited to submit their name. More than 70 names—it might have been 76 names, I do not recall precisely—were selected and considered during the process. The committee selected for this purpose is of course in charge of the process.

I received the information indirectly yesterday. I was told that the leak may have come from the person's employer—the person might have notified their employer or board of directors—or from those who received the letter from the opposition parties. These are the two possibilities, but it doesn't matter.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

I would like to clarify something. The clerk has confirmed to me that no certificate has been tabled in the House as of yet. We have to be careful about what is reported in the newspapers. We will not know who has been recommended until the certificate is tabled. In light of what happened last time, I understand that the political parties have to be consulted. I do not know if they have been consulted yet. I have been asked to ensure that we serve our role as a committee as soon as the certificate is tabled, in other words, the person recommended will appear.

Mr. Choquette, you have the floor.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I am angered by Mr. Arseneault's comments. He said that 60 or so candidates have been evaluated, yet no one on the committee was aware of that. I was just talking about secrecy and lack of transparency.

I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada who was on the selection committee. Even the opposition leaders do not know. Speaking of a lack of transparency, this is a good example.

The motion simply calls for subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act to be upheld and for the opposition leaders to be consulted, rather than being sent a letter. That's all.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Mr. Clarke, you have the floor.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

I also observed a great deal of secrecy. I asked just one question, and the parliamentary secretary said that we are the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I asked how far along things were, how many applications had been selected, and how many had been rejected. I wanted some details about how the process works. I wanted to know, for instance, what provinces the candidates were from and what there qualifications were. Yet we did not get any answers at all. That is why I put a question on the Order Paper, even though I won't get the information for 45 days, after it is all over. I also find that the whole process was not very open.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Before continuing our discussion, I simply want to say that I consider Mr. Choquette's motion as a notice of motion. I have no objection should you wish to comment on the notice of motion in the time remaining.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

I would like to come back to that.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

We can come back to it. The clerk will distribute Mr. Choquette's motion, there will be an acceptable timeframe for introducing the motion, and then we will talk about it again next Tuesday.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

That is all I have to say.

The members of the selection committee were publicly announced in June. Everyone knows that.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Who are the members?