Mr. Speaker, last month, following the celebration of the International Day of La Francophonie, I informed this government of several of my concerns about setbacks for the French language in this country.
However, instead of listening to me and answering my questions as a responsible government should do, the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie gave an answer that had nothing to do with my question.
Do not get me wrong. I am satisfied with the appointment of Michaëlle Jean to the position of Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. I personally wrote to Ms. Jean to wish her every success in her new position, and I also received a reply. I am delighted that some women can reach senior positions where they have the power to make decisions. There are far too few of them.
However, I have a great deal of difficulty seeing the connection between my question and this appointment. Am I to understand that I should turn to Ms. Jean to talk about the alarming situation of minority francophone communities in Canada or the job cuts in the CBC's French service? That includes 10 positions lost in Acadia, 15 in Ontario, 16 in the western provinces, 10 positions at ICI Musique and a 30-minute reduction in the news in Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières. Should I also ask Ms. Jean about francophone immigration programs in Canada? I know that this government is giving up responsibility for many files by offloading them onto the provinces and territories. However, I did not think that Ms. Jean was also a scapegoat.
My constituents in Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and I see the Canadian francophonie as something that is very big, powerful and important. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Labour told me that “our government has maintained unprecedented and indisputable support for official languages in Canada”. I doubt it.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, I have heard many witnesses say that French has taken a back seat in Canada. A number of minority communities are very concerned because they are at risk of losing more and more of the services provided in French by federal institutions.
The government also withdrew important funding from francophone communities that sent representatives outside Canada to Paris, Brussels or Tunis, for example, as part of the Destination Canada job fairs. They are no longer capable of directly recruiting immigrants who are prepared to settle in francophone communities. Witnesses told us that these representations in francophone countries were an excellent source of recruitment. A number of these witnesses also told us about the lack of coordination between the different levels of government, the lack of a government-wide strategic plan, and the lack of political will to reverse this trend.
The government is not meeting its obligations. It is not taking positive measures to encourage the francophonie under section 41 of the Official Languages Act. It is doing the opposite by using measures that negatively affect the vitality of French in Canada.
Need I remind hon. members that it is incumbent on federal institutions to ensure that positive measures are taken to carry out the commitment to enhance the vitality of the French linguistic minority communities in Canada, support their development, and foster the full recognition and use of French in Canadian society?
I invite the Minister for La Francophonie to review the various motions moved by the NDP at the Standing Committee on Official Languages and encourage his colleagues to support our proposed studies, including the one on the ability of Radio-Canada to fulfill its mandate.