I was not going to bring it up, but the hon. member opposite has just reminded me that the hon. member for Québec-Est comes from Ontario, and he must know what he is talking about. Yes, I, too, remember that he was ran for the office of mayor of Penetanguishene and was defeated.
But now I want to get back to the comments I made earlier. The House may remember what was said about the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne. It was said that they had been bought off, that francophones outside Quebec sold out in return for federal grants. That is what the Bloc Quebecois said, and we remember.
What happened on the eve of the referendum? The hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata was burned in effigy at the Cité collégiale here in Ottawa. That is what was done and what people think of the arrogant attitude exhibited by some of the people across the way and of the policies they represent. This was done by francophone students; that is what these people think of the hon. members opposite.
The current premier of Quebec, the former leader of the Bloc Quebecois, says that when he was Leader of the Opposition, he had a policy concerning francophones outside Quebec. As you may remember, he visited the Acadian community and told them that he was going to build schools for them, until he was told to go back home, because Acadians had been there long before he came onto the scene and would be there long after he was gone. He was not kicked out but, when he announced his policy, they came right out and told him to go back home.
Again, we remember the Bloc's arrogance, its scorn for francophones outside Quebec, and its claims that it always knows what is best for us.
The Bloc now maintains that Quebec is French, while the rest of Canada is totally or almost totally English. In his question to the previous speaker, the hon. member for Longueuil referred to English Canada. Others talk about English Canada. Another expression of contempt came from this member who stated that francophone communities were becoming extinct, when in fact the number of francophones outside Quebec is growing every year in Canada. He knows, but he does not care. He continues to show contempt, as he did just now and will again, because this is the way the Bloc thinks and acts toward us. But we will not stand for that.
These comments are not true and should not be made. The fact remains that he keeps making that kind of comment. Coming back to francophones outside Quebec. The Bloc Quebecois is depicting Quebec as unilingual francophone or almost, and the rest of Canada as unilingual anglophone. I can see my colleague from Argenteuil-Papineau behind the hon. member opposite. He knows that, when he hears two people speaking English in a shopping center in Hawkesbury, in my riding, chances are they are his constituents, because in the immediate area, the English speaking population lives in Quebec while the French speaking population lives in Ontario.
That is the way things are in our area. He knows as well as I do that the people living in Lost River or Harrington for instance are more likely to be anglophones. On the other hand, people living in Hawkesbury, Alfred, Saint-Isidore, Saint-Eugène or Sainte-Rose-de-Prescott are more likely to be francophones. That is how it is in our area.
In my riding, hundreds and even thousands of people only speak French. They did not arrive from Chicoutimi or France yesterday. They are my constituents and they have been living in Ontario for generations.
Let me tell you about my family. Next year, my son will marry a young French unilingual woman from Ontario who may be part of the tenth generation of her Franco-Ontarian family, which is perfectly fine. This young woman did all her elementary, secondary and post-secondary studies in Ontario. My son has a Master of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Education. He never attended an English language school. He works here, in Parliament, for an English speaking member. This is the Canadian reality.
Why claim this reality does not exist? Why do members opposite tell us that francophones outside Quebec have disappeared, or are disappearing, when the figures show otherwise? Why do they say that? This is what they are saying and we are fed up with this kind of contempt.
I want to tell you about a speech made by someone whom I consider to be a distinguished speaker, Daniel Poliquin. His article appeared in Cité Libre and dealt with the martyr's complex. Mr. Poliquin said that some separatists always have to rely on the element of pity. As he said, they tell themselves that they are to be pitied, therefore they exist, and therefore they are the only one that exists, and deserve reparation. Such is the mentality of the members opposite. This is how they act and talk.
But there is a risk. Not only does this attitude hurt relations between the peoples of Canada, it is also harmful to francophones living outside Quebec. Let me explain. My constituents and other francophones outside Quebec, whether they live in your province, Madam Speaker, or mine, sometimes have grievances having to do with the fact that they are a minority. To what degree do they feel constrained in their ability to air such grievances?
They know that if they state their grievances, members opposite will exploit the situation, as they did a few days ago when a French language school board announced its intention to close a French language school in Ottawa, because it no longer needed that school. The member for Québec-Est made a big thing of the whole issue, to use acceptable parliamentary language.
There are 60 French schools in Ottawa and a French language school board managing these schools found that, because of a population redistribution, schools had to be moved. This finding was exploited by a Bloc member. To what extent does that hurt the freedom of expression of members of the francophone community? They are concerned they will be exploited by the members opposite. That is wrong.
We are being exploited by the Bloc and by other separatists who are not representative of the majority's position neither in Quebec nor elsewhere. That is not true, that is not the Canadian reality.
I have something to say about the people who claim the official bilingualism policy is some sort of a failure. I disagree with them. I normally agree with a lot of things the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca says in the House, but not with the proposition that bilingualism is a failure. I will probably get two or three letters tomorrow from irate people claiming it is a failure because something did not go their way at one point or another, but that is not the issue.
The issue is we have been able together as francophones and anglophones, coupled with all other Canadians, to make this into
what is the greatest country in the world according the United Nations. We must have done something right.
Yes, maybe it costs 25 cents a word to translate government documents so that I am able to read them in my language and so that my unilingual daughter-in-law can read in her language, so the hon. member can also, so that all others can read those documents with equal force in either language. Notwithstanding that cost of 25 cents a word, we are still the best place in the world in which to live. I say to the hon. member across that is not so bad. That is not a sign of failure.
The hon. member says a policy of territorial unilingualism is the correct approach for Canada. I have enormous respect for his views, but not on this subject. I suspect they are not his views. That is the policy of his party. Knowing him to the limited degree that I do, those could not be his personal views on this subject because they are so hopelessly wrong. I can associate them with of some of his colleagues, though.
As Canadians we must recognize we have been able to do great things together. We are one of the most productive nations in the world. In terms of the human development index, we have the best conditions of life of any nation in the world. As linguistic groups we have been able to get along very well.
Whenever we do not it makes headlines but when we do get along well it does not. How many times has it made headlines in the House that the hon. member for Simcoe North, a francophone, was elected in a constituency which is 95 per cent English? How many times has that been said? None because it does not make headlines.
How many times has it occurred in the country when the people of a majority francophone area have elected an anglophone to Parliament? It does not make headlines. Those things are also true. Things being as they are, sometimes regrettably, coverage is given to those things which are contentious. Harmony by definition is not contentious, but it is there and we should recognize it as Canadians. We should recognize that when we do not get along, it does not mean we never do. It is quite the opposite.
In a few days from now, we will celebrate in this country the feast of French Canadians, Saint John the Baptist's Day.