Mr. Speaker, I do not want to repeat what my Bloc Québécois colleagues have already said, but in light of what has been said, I would like to look at the subject from another angle, with concrete examples.
I would remind members that the comments made by my colleague from Winnipeg North did not exactly respond to what we were saying. Perhaps some of what we said was misunderstood, misinterpreted or misconstrued, for when we talk about the minority, as my colleague from Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel said, Quebec is already a minority within North America. That is what my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île noted earlier. The threat to the French language is concrete and real.
I said I would give the House a concrete example. I am the member for Manicouagan. The riding of Manicouagan is located in eastern Quebec, bordering Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes. There are, of course, immigrants in my region, although sometimes people think that immigrants would not want to settle on the North Shore, an administrative region of 350,000 kilometres that is often thought to have nothing but spruce trees, snow and whales. People do live there. People have settled in Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Baie-Comeau and Haute-Côte-Nord, for example. They are settling in lots of places. These immigrants do not speak either French or English as their primary language, but they choose to settle there and learn the language. I see them as success stories. These people are welcomed by the community, which is happy to teach them French, the language they need to know in order to live in those regions, where English is nearly non-existent. Anglophones make up only about 1% of the population, with the exception of the lower north shore, where the proportion of anglophones is a little higher.
Those are excellent positive examples of people who go to school in French, work in French and receive all their services in French. That is what enables people on the North Shore to live their lives in French and play an active role in society. Just like the rest of Quebec, Manicouagan has programs designed to help immigrants integrate. Language is the doorway to culture, as my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert said earlier. By learning the language, which is the best way to learn about culture, newcomers can play a full and active role in the community.
I know that because, having taught literature at university, at CEGEP and in a bunch of other places, I have seen it. Having access to a body of literature connects people to history, sociology, the arts, music and more. People who can access the language rapidly also become part of the community very rapidly. That is what we want for everyone. That is what I would want for myself if I were to move to another country. I would want access to everything that country had to offer—for newcomers, that means everything the Quebec nation has to offer—and that is really the purpose of the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île.
In conclusion, I wish we could debate this bill in the House. Beyond the issue of language rights, which the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île defends, this is an exercise in democracy that demonstrates to me the contempt—I do not want to put it that way, but it is what first came to mind—that my fellow MPs and also my colleagues from Quebec have for the French language issue.
I mentioned contempt, but I believe that transparency is also lacking in this process. In fact, since elected officials are accountable to voters, I wish they could rise in the House to indicate whether they support or oppose this bill, which is a bill for all Quebeckers.
Montreal was mentioned quite a bit. Montreal may simply be a symptom of what is not working in terms of the French language, because we must protect it.