Evidence of meeting #3 for Official Languages in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was students.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marie-Pierre Lavoie  President, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique
Denis Chartrand  Vice-President, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones
Geoffrey Chambers  President, Quebec Community Groups Network
Sylvia Martin-Laforge  Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network
Valérie Morand  Director General, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

5:05 p.m.

President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Geoffrey Chambers

There is a very good case for there having been a restriction in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but there's a diminishing argument for its validity going forward. The French language in Quebec is in good shape, partly because there's a lot of vigilance to support it. We're not against that, but it's going to go some day. It is a violation of civil rights.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

So your position is you would like to see the National Assembly, or alternatively the Government of Quebec, declare its approval of section 59?

5:05 p.m.

President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Geoffrey Chambers

Absolutely. As we graduate high school students who are as capable of taking a job in the Quebec economy as the high school students that come out of the majority schools, the francophone schools, it will seem more and more irrational to have this distinction, whereby people are not failing to participate in the larger project of Quebec being a French society at a working level, but come from our community.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

Thank you, Mr. Chambers.

Your turn, Mr. Duguid.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I represent Winnipeg South, and for 5% of the population I represent their first language is French and 17% are bilingual—I made sure both my daughters went through French immersion—and so the French fact is growing in our community.

And thank you so much. I've learned a lot today about how to serve my community better.

We have the French school division in my district, the DSFM, which many of you would know. The French-only K-to-8 school is Noël-Ritchot. He was the bishop to Louis Riel. Guess what? There are many portables outside.

My district is exploding in growth. It's 40% new Canadians. It's very much like a suburb of Toronto. We're building new schools while portables are outside the French-only school. I wonder whether there's evidence to suggest that parents who should be sending their children to Noël-Ritchot are going to be sending their kids to the new French immersion schools instead.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

You have less than a minute left.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Are permanent residents, refugees and others who don't have citizenship or other status counted in the census? That's probably a question for next week.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

You have 20 seconds.

5:05 p.m.

Director General, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

Valérie Morand

I would like to provide an answer to your first question as to whether there is evidence that parents are choosing French immersion rather than French as a first language. We don't have hard data, but we know it does happen for a number of reasons. If there's not a nearby school, parents will be tempted to send their kids to French immersion. If the French language school is located very far away, they're reluctant to have their kids on the bus for a long time. We have kids travelling over an hour to get to school and an hour back, two hours and sometimes more. Those are dedicated parents, who are determined to have their kids enrolled in a French language school, but if you don't have a nearby school, that's playing against your clientele.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Or if it's too crowded.

5:05 p.m.

Director General, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

Valérie Morand

Or if it's too crowded.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

Thank you very much.

I now give the floor to Mr. d'Entremont, who has two minutes.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Thank you very much.

On Thursday, we will have the opportunity to ask questions of the chief statistician. What direct questions should we ask him? As that song from the 1980s said....

She Blinded Me with Science, they've blinded me with details that are not important.

5:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

Denis Chartrand

Why do they not want to include the questions?

5:10 p.m.

President, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique

Marie-Pierre Lavoie

Yes. How would that hurt?

March 10th, 2020 / 5:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

Denis Chartrand

As the gentleman said, if the paper is too short, get longer paper! I am just an engineer.

5:10 p.m.

President, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique

Marie-Pierre Lavoie

The questions were tested this summer and they work. It is just a matter of including them in the short form and not only in the long form.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

The questions may have already been tested, but it remains to be seen whether the government will accept them. This is not a question for Statistics Canada, but for the government.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

The question has been answered.

I give the floor to Mrs. Lalonde for two minutes.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Because I waited until the end, I am allowed five minutes. I've been patient!

Good afternoon. It's nice to meet you or see you again.

There has been a lot of talk about why you are here and how important your presence is. I have always said that when you build a school, it fills up. I firmly believe that is one reason.

If I may, I would like to talk about Ontario specifically, because I represent the riding of Orléans.

Over the past few years, if we could have had a short-form census with all three questions, or at least the questions that tell us what we want to know, would that have made things better with the provincial government? How would that have improved things for you and prevented the need for so many portable classrooms? There were still 17 to 23 in some locations.

5:10 p.m.

Vice-President, Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones

Denis Chartrand

Because your question is about Ontario, I will answer it, but it will apply to all provinces.

Having questions on the form will not guarantee more schools, but it will give us the data we need to fight. Right now we have no data except our own, but we are told it doesn't count. Probative data will help us fight for a school in Toronto.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marie-France Lalonde Liberal Orléans, ON

Basically, it would confirm what you are already know.

I have another question.

You seem pretty sure of what Statistics Canada might tell us or the position it has already taken. Why is that?

Ms. Martin-Laforge, go ahead.

5:10 p.m.

Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network

Sylvia Martin-Laforge

I have an answer to Monsieur d'Entremont's—

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Emmanuel Dubourg

Unfortunately, there are only 15 to 20 seconds left to respond.

5:10 p.m.

Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network

Sylvia Martin-Laforge

StatsCan is going to tell you all the reasons...or you're going to tell them all the reasons they should do it.

They're probably thinking that the risk of putting in more questions and doing this in the short form opens the door to other groups and other questions. I think that the constitutional right and what we're trying to do in Canada around the two official languages and the linguistic minority is primordial.

They are risk-averse, I believe, in that they would not want to do this because it would open the door to other groups.

That's my take on not accepting that answer from them.