Madam Speaker, last week, I asked the government why members of the Cabinet had all refused to attend the annual convention of the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario. In view of the outcry raised by that refusal, the Minister of Health recently agreed to attend, but not necessarily for the right reasons. This behaviour is typical of the historical approach taken by the federal government towards French reality in Canada. Federalist members of Parliament do not seem to have the time and, most of all, the desire to defend the interests of French people in this country.
No, Liberal members are much too busy condemning the fact that the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario had the impudence to invite the Leader of the Official Opposition to its annual convention. The Liberal member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell even had the gall to compare Franco-Ontarians to little chickens that were contributing to their own misfortune by inviting Colonel Sanders to their annual convention. The member and his sorry associates were quickly taken down a peg or two by representatives of the French communities outside Quebec.
Indeed, several Canadian newspapers reported the response of these French leaders, on May 27, to the scornful words of the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, among others. For instance, in the newspaper Le Droit , the president of the ACFO, Mr. Jean Tanguay, was questioning the work done by their Liberal members in the following words: ``When time comes to denounce the injustices promulgated by the provincial government, do they make the front page? Have they denounced the fact that we have lost the management of literacy in Ontario?''
The same day newspaper also reported the comments of the president of the ACFO in Prescott-Russell, Mr. Rolland Saumure, who denounced even more violently the attitude of his own federal member. He declared: "It is not by burying our heads in the sand as Mr. Boudria does that we will make any progress. Is Mr. Boudria afraid of information? Should we just listen to our good Liberal ministers in Ottawa?"
The newspaper La Presse reported the comments of Mrs. Claire Lanteigne, president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada. She was infuriated with the lack of respect demonstrated to them by some Liberal members who tried to screen the information that could get to them.
In conclusion, I want to say that I find very disgraceful that some members of the House of Commons try to limit the freedom of speech of members of another political party for the sake of a federalist doctrine that they are unfortunately ready to defend at any cost, as we could see.