Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly weigh in on this important issue, and express the official opposition's disappointment in the process as well.
Subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act says:
The Governor in Council shall, by commission under the Great Seal, appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada after consultation with the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons and approval of the appointment by resolution of the Senate and House of Commons.
The Leader of the Opposition received a letter from the Prime Minister on May 8. The letter of consultation, that mockingly pretended to be in accordance with the aforementioned subsection of the Official Languages Act, stated that the Prime Minister was nominating Madeleine Meilleur as the next Commissioner of Official Languages.
That was the extent of the consultation process. The Leader of the Opposition wrote back to the Prime Minister stating her concerns about the name of the person proposed for the position. This individual served as a provincial Liberal cabinet minister for 13 years until June 2016.
We strongly believe that officers of Parliament must be beyond any reproach, and perception that they may be susceptible to political influence or partisan interests. With the Prime Minister first nomination for the position of an officer of Parliament, he proposed a partisan Liberal nominee, who has donated almost $5,000 to the Liberal Party of Canada, and who donated to a personal campaign for leader of the Liberal Party.
As you are very aware, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of vacancies to fill for other officers of Parliament. This is a very troubling precedent, and we are concerned that the Prime Minister will propose other partisan Liberals to fill these positions.
We would also like to point out that at the federal level, there are restrictions on interaction between former ministers and institutions for which they had interactions or responsibility. Under the Conflict of Interest Act, former federal ministers have a two-year cooling off period where they are restricted on any dealings with the institutions for which they were responsible.
We recognize that the act would not have a direct bearing on this situation, but it is inappropriate that a former Liberal partisan provincial minister of francophone affairs would be put in charge of an institution for which she would have significant dealings, less than one year after her resignation.
The official opposition does not agree with this appointment, and has communicated with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's response to the official opposition's objection was to put on notice today a motion that states:
That, in accordance with subsection 49(1) of the Official Languages Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. 31, and pursuant to Standing Order 111.1(2), the House approve the appointment of Madeleine Meilleur as Commissioner of Official Languages, for a term of seven years.
We believe this is insulting and unacceptable. The nomination process should be halted here and now until a proper consultation process is allowed to take place.