Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege for me to rise in the House of Commons to talk about the importance of official languages and the role of the official languages commissioner, Canada's bilingualism watchdog and protector of official language communities across the country.
On June 21, everyone was talking about the botched appointment of Madeleine Meilleur, which was a disaster for official languages and official language communities all over Canada. At that time, I asked the Prime Minister a question about this extremely important position and the Madeleine Meilleur appointment fiasco because it did not take us long to realize how partisan the appointment was. We asked the Prime Minister and the heritage minister why she continued to outdo herself.
As I said yesterday evening, we were without an official languages commissioner for four days. Finally, the heritage minister woke up and extended Ghislaine Saikaley's term as acting commissioner for another six months. That time is almost up. If I am not mistaken, her term expires on December 15, which is in three weeks, and we still do not have an official languages commissioner.
This is what former commissioner Graham Fraser, whose own term was extended and who held the position for some 10 years, had to say about it:
I think that this is an example of a bungled appointment process. I can only think that it reflects a lack of attention, lack of concern for the issue...for the question of official languages.
Graham Fraser dispensed with neutrality and used harsh words. “Lack of attention” and “lack of concern” are very serious words, but they are fitting because he had sent a letter to the Prime Minister a full year before his term expired advising him of his departure and recommending that he take the appointment process very seriously and not wait until the last minute.
Unfortunately, almost one year after his departure, we still do not have a Commissioner of Official Languages. There are barely three weeks left to fill this position, to properly consult the opposition leaders, to appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, and finally, for the House to be able to vote in favour of the next Commissioner of Official Languages.
My question is quite simple. Why is the government dragging its heels? Why did it take the government a year to do things properly? What is going on? Why is it so difficult to follow this process properly?