Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill S-3. I have an Acadian name. The Bourgeois come from Caraquet. There are also Bourgeois in Tracadie, New Brunswick. My colleague from Acadie—Bathurst spoke earlier about the Paulins. I do not know whether he was talking about the Paulins from Caraquet, but in any event, there are some Paulins in my family. My family also has some Pauls in Manitoba.
As you can see, I am well aware of the difficulties these families and friends have faced in terms of protecting their language, French. In fact, the Pauls in Manitoba speak more English than French, while the Paulins favour French.
That is one reason it is important for me to speak today. I also want to thank Senator Gauthier for his work and the battle he waged for several years to achieve official language equality in Canada. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The official languages commissioner seems to be making an effort. She got a substantial increase in her budget, which is now some $750 million. We presume she could do more for francophone communities outside Quebec to be respected.
The Bloc Québécois has examined Bill S-3 thoroughly. We realize our position might suggest that we are letting down francophone communities outside Quebec, but that is not so. This bill is dangerous for Quebec since—as our colleague from Gatineau mentioned—it makes it an obligation for federal institutions to enforce part VII of the Official Languages Act. Regulations can be made prescribing the manner in which any duties under part VII are to be carried out.
However, the member did not mention at all—unless I am mistaken—that it also requires the government to take measures “to advance the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society”, while providing the right to apply to the court for a remedy, permission to contest an alleged violation of part VII.
I note that the problem lies in the provision whereby the government is required “to advance the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society”.
The Bloc has examined the bill carefully. We realized that Canadian society is defined as a list of areas in which the Minister of Canadian Heritage should take measures in education, provincial services, health, social services and municipal services. These areas are under Quebec's jurisdiction, exclusively. We already have legislation in Quebec to protect our anglophone minority. Here is an example.
A few years ago, I was the president of a CLSC, a local community services centre, and Quebec legislation on health requires all CLSCs and hospitals to set aside a portion of their budget to provide service in English to anglophones.
It is in the legislation. We have already thought about our anglophone minority. It is a shame the other provinces have not followed suit. They have not tried to help francophone minorities any more than necessary.
The Bloc Québécois is against this bill because it wants to protect itself. We in Quebec are the leaders of Canada's francophonie. Francophones outside Quebec are following in our wake. Many times the Bloc Québécois has helped and defended them and many times have we taken their requests into account. I am proud that we did.
One of our colleagues who has left this House, the hon. member for Verchères—Les Patriotes, staunchly defended the Acadians by asking the Queen of England to issue an apology for their deportation.
The Bloc Québécois' support for francophone communities outside Quebec is unfailing. However, we cannot support them if that means losing our own strength as Quebeckers and francophones. Accordingly, we cannot vote in favour of this bill, which will weaken us.
If the Bloc Québécois and Conservative amendments for ensuring this protection had passed, we could have voted in favour of this bill. Unfortunately, it is not possible.
We are distressed about this, given the work put into this by Senator Gauthier and the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, but the Bloc Québécois must protect Quebeckers and their language. Perhaps another time we could be in favour of this bill if it included the amendments we want.