Mr. Speaker, I have a few very brief comments, in support of the bill introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier. I want to congratulate him on this.
I had formally supported this bill. This legislation highlights the importance of respecting Canada's linguistic duality. This fundamental principle must be respected in all sectors of our society. Of course, one of the most important sectors is health care. Access to hospital services and health care is essential.
I know that the committee will consider how to implement this fundamental principle. I would simply like to say that I will be voting in favour of this bill. I know that my colleague, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, already spoke on behalf of our caucus. He has fought his entire life to ensure that minority language rights in New Brunswick and elsewhere in Canada are respected.
I am very proud to share with the hon. members of this House the news that my hon. colleague will become a member of the Ordre de la Pléiade in a few weeks. I can also see my colleague, the hon. member for Repentigny, who is being awarded the same honour. So, on behalf of all my colleagues, we congratulate these members for their commitment to minority language rights in Canada.
I would like to make one final point on the general subject. I strongly support the principle of the bill and I am pleased it is going to committee. However I want to highlight one other issue and that is in the context of access to health services. I want to acknowledge and underscore the fact that there are huge demographic changes which are taking place in Canada.
I represent the community of Burnaby on the west coast of Canada and there is a major linguistic minority there who speak Cantonese and Mandarin and who still too often do not have access to hospital services. I want to take the opportunity of this debate not only to reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental principle of linguistic duality, anglais et français, but also to appeal to my colleagues in the government to recognize that it is essential that the federal government show leadership in places like Toronto, Vancouver and other centres and ensure that where there are significant linguistic minorities who speak languages such as Cantonese, Mandarin, or other languages in which they need access to health services, that they too will have access to those services.
I support this bill.