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House of Commons Hansard #102 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was french.

Topics

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have had the chance to hear the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie make a speech in French. Unfortunately, that does not happen very often in the House. I find that rather disappointing.

It was a long speech. We are obviously happy that the Liberals will support the motion. However, the member's remarks boil down to this: the Liberals are very hot and the others are not nice.

Personally, I thought it was a condescending speech. The Liberals, who claim to be great defenders of the French language, should explain to us, here in the House, why they voted against the bill that would have subjected all workers in Quebec, particularly those under federal jurisdiction, to Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language. About 10% of our workers are under Ottawa's jurisdiction. Of course, we are part of Canada. We think that we should become a country, but in the meantime, if the federal government wanted to cooperate, it should have supported that bill, and the Liberals should have done the same.

I would like to know why the member was against that bill.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to say that the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber criticized me for not speaking French often enough. I can assure him that I will be making plenty of speeches in French in Jeanne-Le Ber during the next election.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for Outremont is anxious to defend himself, but before he does, I have a brief question for him.

As a former minister of immigration, I applaud my colleague's speech for many reasons. First of all, the motion is somewhat pointless, because it is stating the obvious. This is merely an attempt to get media attention. That is fine; all members do it and everyone talks about it. In fact Tout le monde en parle, which translates into “Everyone is talking about it”, is an excellent program. Too bad some members will never be invited on, since I could give them some hints.

I would like to get back to the topic of immigration. We are not talking here today only about education, which falls under provincial jurisdiction. We are saying that when newcomers arrive and want to settle in Quebec, they must learn French first and foremost. I completely agree with the motion moved by my hon. colleague from Outremont, whom I quite like.

Could the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie expand a little on the importance of governments? Our government at the time was always very respectful of the agreement on immigration, and it made greater investments in that regard. I would remind the House that the agreement gives the Government of Quebec full powers to choose its own immigrants, and to work with the funds it has and the funds needed for—

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Bourassa. I can assure him that immigration is very important to the future of our country. As the industry, science and technology critic, I am very aware of the importance of immigration to the prosperity of Canada and Quebec.

We are all too aware that many people will be retiring in the coming years, and that we will not have enough people to take their places. As the member for Bourassa said, the immigration agreement between Canada and Quebec was established decades ago. I believe that this model is respectful and is working very well in Quebec.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie remembers saying what was reported in the Globe and Mail on December 16, 2006:

First of all, I had been out of the country from 1992 to 2000 training as an astronaut and had not had the opportunity to appreciate the profound changes taking place in Quebec, including Canada's near-death experience in the 1995 referendum.

Secondly, my perspective of Canada and of Quebec was shaped by English national newspapers and from watching English television, which I believed, gave me an encompassing sense of my country. In reality, I was living inside a bubble.

Has he also had a chance to read his leader's book, in which he said he might have to have a motion declaring June 24, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day? Does he know that his brilliant and talented leader, who loves to write books giving everybody else lessons, has written a book in which he gets the date of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day wrong?

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

As usual, Mr. Speaker, the member for Outremont is utterly predictable. There is no depth to which he will not sink to try to make his point.

I have to say that people really appreciated what I said in 2006 because I showed that, unlike the member, I was able to admit my mistakes. I have never seen the member do that.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is quite an interesting discussion.

The motion addresses language, but it does not address the combination of factors that support the integration of immigrants.

For a long time now, there has been a consensus in Quebec that the province should not participate in Canadian multiculturalism. That is what Robert Bourassa wanted from the very beginning, and now people like Julius Grey are asking for it too. In Quebec, we prefer interculturalism. That was the main conclusion of the Bouchard-Taylor report. Not surprisingly, the Liberal Party did not support us when we introduced a bill to that effect in the House. Everyone knows that the party's decisions are made in Toronto, not in Montreal.

What I want to know is, will the member support this measure, which received unanimous consent in Quebec, next time around?

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber.

I am here today to speak to the motion presented by the NDP. I believe I responded to that quite clearly in the 20 minutes I used to speak about the Liberal Party's position.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of the NDP's motion. The Bloc Québécois will support this motion being debated today. The purpose of this NDP motion is to debate a subject that Quebeckers have agreed on for a very long time and that, for the Bloc Québécois, is restating the obvious. There is no doubt that the Québécois form a nation.

Since a nation has its own language, culture and territory, recognizing its existence implies recognizing its identity, values and interests as a nation. By recognizing the nation of Quebec, the House of Commons has recognized that Quebeckers have the right to control the social, economic and cultural development of Quebec.

Quebec is a French-speaking nation and not a bilingual province, something that should be made perfectly clear. It is all very well for the House of Commons to adopt motions recognizing the existence of the nation of Quebec and stating that it must have certain powers. The reality is that the federalist parties far too often oppose plans to grant more power to that nation. Just look at the Bloc Québécois bill to apply Bill 101 to companies under federal jurisdiction.

The Liberal Party of Canada opposed having Bill 101 apply to federally regulated businesses. Yet the member for Papineau recognizes that it is important for immigrants to learn French. He says that Quebec's goal of francization is legitimate and that the wording of Bill 104 simply lacked “subtlety”. “Immigrants to Quebec must learn French first and foremost,” he said about Bill 104, on which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled. Yet if he recognizes the importance of learning French, why did his party oppose the application of Bill 101? I am referring to the member for Papineau.

Recently, a Supreme Court ruling invalidated Bill 104 in Quebec with regard to bridging schools. What this means is that even in its own areas of jurisdiction, Quebec does not have full jurisdiction. This is one reason why many Quebeckers want Quebec to become independent.

It is important to remember that this is the reason René Lévesque refused to sign the Canadian Constitution in 1980: the National Assembly was losing part of its jurisdiction over education and the language of the Quebec nation, which is completely unacceptable. It is always dangerous when one nation's language laws are subordinate to another nation's laws and institutions. Quebec passed legislation to protect its language, and a federal institution has just decreased that protection. That is something we cannot accept.

For 20 years, Quebec has had a policy on integrating immigrants: interculturalism. But the federal government's insistence on imposing multiculturalism, an integration policy that is foreign to Quebec, is doing tremendous harm to the integration of immigrants to Quebec.

My colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber will have a chance to talk about this. The official language of Quebec is French everywhere, except when it comes to the federal government, which considers that there are two official languages. The Bloc Québécois asks that the federal government recognize and comply with the Charter of the French Language in Quebec in the Official Languages Act and comply with the spirit of the charter in regard to the language of signage and of work in related legislation.

At the risk of repeating myself, it is important to remember that Quebec is a French-language nation, not a bilingual province.

Also, since civil law and family law fall under Quebec's jurisdiction, the province should have full authority over family reunification.

The Bloc Québécois believes that since telecommunications and broadcasting are important to the future of Quebec culture, these powers must be delegated to the Government of Quebec. The Bloc Québécois believes that Quebec could create its own broadcasting and telecommunications council which, while complying with federal legislation, could implement its own regulations based on its own concerns and interests.

The recognition of a nation is more than symbolic, because the nation is where political decisions are made. Recognizing a nation means recognizing a political entity with legitimate political rights and aspirations.

That is exactly what Robert Bourassa said in the Quebec National Assembly when the Meech Lake accord failed:

—English Canada must clearly understand that, no matter what, Quebec is today and for all times a distinct society, free and capable of assuming its destiny and its development.

Unfortunately, most Canadians who thought that there would be consequences for recognizing the Quebec nation were opposed to doing so. The House will remember. It was 2006. Most people who supported it were quick to point out that it essentially meant nothing. That is rather appalling, since recognizing a nation means recognizing a people and an entity. It means recognizing that people have the right to take the destiny of their nation and of their fellow citizens into their own hands. It means recognizing that nation's needs.

Having independence and sovereignty means three things: it means creating one's own laws; it means collecting all one's taxes, all the money that is from the people for the people; it means signing one's own international treaties. That is what Quebec wants. It wants complete and full sovereignty.

By recognizing that the people of Quebec form a nation, Canada recognized that all the positions that the Bloc Québécois defends in the House of Commons are legitimate and appropriate. These positions include: respect for Quebec's distinct character; acknowledgement of Quebec values; settlement of the fiscal imbalance; full respect of Quebec's jurisdictions, which means putting an end to federal spending in Quebec jurisdictions; the end of Canadian nation building, which aims to create a Canadian nation and to weaken the Quebec identity.

In short, by recognizing the Quebec nation, Canada recognized that it was normal for Quebeckers to think about Quebec's interests first and foremost, which is consistent with the view of the Bloc Québécois.

The Quebec nation has a language, French. Canada must take that into account and adjust its legislation accordingly, including by making sure that federally regulated businesses are required to operate in French in Quebec, just like Quebec businesses.

The Quebec nation has a culture, the Quebec culture. Federal laws and institutions that have an impact on culture and identity must take that into account and stop trying to shove us into the Canadian mould as if there was only one nation in Canada, the Canadian nation, of which Quebec was only a regional component.

With our vision of Quebec and the integration of newcomers to Quebec, the Bloc Québécois is working, here in the House of Commons, hand in hand with the National Assembly of Quebec, not against the National Assembly and its decisions. We have a vision of a full-fledged society that is international in scope, a society that has aspirations, a society that welcomes immigration based on Quebec's needs. This vision of immigration, by the way, recognizes fully that French is the common language of Quebeckers.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my friend from Gatineau.

Earlier, the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie was telling us about the Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations. Personally, I am not from Quebec, and I am somewhat confused now. Are we talking about June 24, 22 or 28? There is some confusion there, and I think that the Liberal leader was also confused about the date.

Perhaps the member from the Bloc Québécois could tell us on what date Saint-Jean-Baptiste day is celebrated.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Acadie—Bathurst.

The national day of French Canadians is June 24. Quebec's fête nationale, or national day, is celebrated on June 24. The national day of Acadians is August 15. Each of these people has a right to be represented with dignity and based on what it means, first to the world and also to itself. All the pride attached to that on the international scene, in one's hometown and across the nation is worth celebrating.

It takes place on June 24 for some, on August 15 for others. On August 28, the leader of the official opposition might celebrate somewhere, I do not know where, perhaps in some dreary place. He could take his colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie along or take a little trip to Harvard. Something may be happening there on August 28. I wholeheartedly hope so for them.

In short, Quebeckers and French Canadians celebrate their national day on June 24. Acadians have theirs on August 15.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:15 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the business of supply.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion—French Language Instruction in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to thank the House for passing this motion unanimously.

Suspension of SittingBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The House will suspend until 5:30 p.m.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 5:16 p.m.)

(The House resumed at 5:17 p.m.)

Sitting ResumedBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask that you seek the consent of the House to see the clock as 5:30 p.m.

Sitting ResumedBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Sitting ResumedBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-290 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #119

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)