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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief.

The first thing I would like to say is that we do not see the policy of official bilingualism as making Canadians bilingual. What I was talking about was the need of the policy to provide equality of opportunity for all Canadians to participate in civil service jobs and in the defence sector in our country and that it has not done.

Second, the member asked what greater priority would the government have than to make sure that there was a provision of services for both official language groups in the country. I would like to point out on behalf of over 12 million Canadians whose mother tongue is neither French nor English that this government is to serve and to meet the needs of every single Canadian, of all Canadians.

It is time we recognize the fact that Canada is changing. I would say that the greater priority that this member asked about would be to ensure fairness for all Canadians, equality of service for all Canadians. That should be the greater priority that we should now be moving toward.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues have discussed at some length the problems we have had in Canada with the policy of official bilingualism and I would now like to take a look at how the policy has worked in the public service.

The recent annual report by the Commissioner of Official Languages echoed Lester Pearson, as annual reports have done practically since the inception of official bilingualism, with the following words: "The Official Languages Act requires federal institutions to ensure that English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians have equal opportunities for employment and advancement within their ranks".

This is a high minded and noble goal, one that all of us in this House can agree with. It is hard, however, to reconcile this ideal with a statement made by the hon. minister of defence, for example, on February 25: "We are putting on notice anglophones who want to be generals or chiefs of staff that they have to be totally and absolutely bilingual". This is in Hansard at page 1855.

He later commented: "Anglophones have more to be worried about than francophones because of the tougher bilingual requirements for senior officers".

It seems pretty clear and obvious from these completely opposed statements that the ideal and the reality of official bilingualism are two different things.

I do not believe for one moment that the hon. minister of defence favours French-speaking Canadians over English-speaking Canadians, but I think the minister is faced with the problem of having to defend an inherently flawed system.

There is good reason for the fact that of the 3,000 communications received by the ombudsman under the Official Languages Act over half were complaints of one sort or another.

To put it very simply, the current implementation of official bilingualism does not work. It does not work for anglophones and it does not work for francophones.

The term bilingual describes a person who is equally proficient in both official languages. By this definition there are very few Canadians who can claim to be fluently bilingual and yet we persist, after 27 years of failure, to believe that this policy will somehow be made to work if only we wish harder and spend more money.

By way of example let me draw your attention to many of the members on both sides of this House, myself included, who would not be eligible for employment in virtually all the senior positions in the public sector today because our command of the other official language is less than functional.

It is ironic that although many of us in this House are not bilingual we expect anyone who wants to advance in the public sector to be fluent in both languages.

The reality is that the great majority of Canadians are not bilingual and those who claim to be often are not.

The second problem is that the designation of bilingual postings is increasing, often doing so when there is no real need for bilingual services, as my hon. colleague has just indicated.

One example of the unnecessary designation of public service posts as bilingual was uncovered by the Ottawa Citizen in 1991. In that case there were eight positions designated as bilingual. It turns out that the eight employees were asked to use their bilingual capabilities just once in the past two years and that was when an English-speaking caller had a wrong number and the employees were able to direct him to the right one.

The example I have just given is one of scores which show that many public service positions are unnecessarily designated as bilingual.

There is an alternative to the present implementation of official bilingualism which will not only allow public servants to speak in the language of their choice, but will also eliminate language based discrimination.

In 1977 in response to the problem of de facto discrimination against francophones, the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism recommended that the public service be reorganized into two parallel hierarchies of unilingual work units. French would become the language of about 25 per cent of those work units and English would be the language of the rest.

It is important to keep in mind that this would not be a quota system because anglophones could try to win jobs in the French language work unit and vice versa. However, in each case workers would be allowed and required to communicate with fellow employees in the language of the work unit.

The big picture within the public service as a whole would be that employees could choose whether or not they wanted to make the substantial financial investment required to learn the other official language. Either way there would be a place for them to work in the language of their choice. Not only would the choice have been left to the employee, but the enormous cost of government sponsored language training would have been saved.

This proposal has been tested in the private sector and has been very successful in bilingual companies. Most positions can be filled by unilingual speakers of one language or another and only a few bridge positions need to be filled with bilingual employees. Had this model been adopted when it was recommended 27 years ago full equality between the languages would have been achieved by now and there would be no meaningful discrimination against speakers of either official language.

However, Trudeau chose to adopt another model in which every individual position was designated as to the official language skills it required. Francophones and anglophones would be expected to work in close proximity throughout the public service which means that many posts, including all posts beyond the most junior level would involve regular communication between speakers of two languages.

In this situation two unfortunate results were inevitable. First, the traditionally dominant language, English, would continue to dominate. This is why virtually all public service meetings continue to this day to be held in English. Second, there would be a huge need for bilingual people to occupy all supervisory positions since the rules now proclaimed that each person must be supervised in the language of his or her choice.

It is in the wildfire spread of bilingually designated posts that the real tragedy has occurred. On the one hand the system helped to boost the number of francophones employed by Ottawa. This is because two-thirds of the designated bilingual posts in the public service are occupied by francophones. On the other hand between 60 and 70 per cent of francophones in Canada do not speak English. For this majority the chances of finding employment in the public service have been reduced by the system of designating individual posts as bilingual.

In fact between 1974 when the policy was introduced and 1992, the number of positions in the federal civil service open to persons capable of speaking only French dropped from 34,000 to 25,000. This is a drop of 26 per cent. Even more staggering is the impact in Quebec itself where over half of all the jobs in the federal public service are open only to persons who speak English as well as French.

If the majority of francophones face discrimination the situation among anglophones is even worse. Nearly 90 per cent of Canadian English speakers are incapable of speaking fluent French. This means that most English Canadians are ineligible to rise above the junior public service or above the rank of major in the armed forces. The result of this situation is dramatic.

In a 1990 survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada over one-third of anglophone respondents stated that the policy of designating individual posts had negatively affected their advancement opportunities in the past. Over half of the respondents stated they believed the policy would hurt their promotion opportunities in the future. Nearly 42 per cent stated that on at least one occasion in the past they had not even bothered to apply for a post solely because of the restrictive language requirements.

In other words, because they structured their reform so poorly, the federal government managed to actually increase the level of discrimination faced by the average francophone and simultaneously introduced discrimination against the average anglophone. Canada is probably unique in having managed to systematically discriminate against both its major language groups at the same time by means of the same policy.

The way out of this mess is to toss aside the present system and to finally adopt the system of French and English language units proposed by the B and B commission 27 years ago. New Brunswick has recently adopted elements of this model for its provincial language service. It seems to be a success. That would be our territorial bilingualism policy within the public service. We believe it is time for Ottawa to follow this example.

Social Programs April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, what Canadians really want to know is whether the minister is allowing the Government of Quebec to drive the agenda of the Government of Canada.

Social Programs April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, if the government of Quebec did not want to participate in Monday's meeting, that is Quebec's business but other provinces were prepared to attend.

Why is the minister allowing the Quebec government to delay not only the federal government's planning but that of the nine other provinces as well?

Social Programs April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Human Resources Development how long the cancellation of Monday's federal-provincial meeting will delay the minister's social reform program?

Income Tax Act April 15th, 1994

I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would like to clarify events. We too are happy that the debate can go forward as it ought to so that everyone can be heard on the matter. However, when one of our members was recognized who was not present-

Income Tax Act April 15th, 1994

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would like to support the comments on the point of order made by my other colleagues on this side of the House. Our members also were here prepared to debate. We did not hear the Chair indicate that this was an appropriate time to begin the debate. We believe this debate should go forward this morning as we have clearly indicated we are prepared to do. We have submitted speakers to the Chair. It was obvious that we were ready to go ahead and we think that the process should have allowed us to hear and realize that this was the time to do that.

Violent Crime April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely respect this minister, but I would say that voicing the concerns of my constituents and other Canadians should not be labelled by the minister as alarmist.

In fact, I would suggest to the minister that his continued answers to the effect that, yes, there is a clear problem that we are deeply concerned about but let us stay cool is not an answer at all to Canadians.

I would ask when the minister is going to table the changes to the Criminal Code and the Young Offenders Act that Canadians have been demanding and expecting. They want to know a timeframe.

Violent Crime April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the justice minister. Perhaps that is reflective of the growing fears of Canadians of the incidence of home invasions, drive-by shootings and other random acts of violence in this country.

I would ask the minister what specifically he intends to do to curb this urban terrorism and protect the safety of law-abiding citizens.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, one of the points we have been making is that we want a commitment in this bill to cap the number of members of Parliament.

As the hon. member for Calgary West rightly points out this would be within the purview of the House of Commons through an amendment to section 51 of the Constitution. This House has the jurisdiction to make that amendment because it pertains to a federal matter.

In speaking with other members and particularly government members, we have urged a commitment like that to be built into this process or a review of the process. I want to emphasize that this has not been done. This is very disturbing to me as a representative of electors. I have no idea why this could not have been done and was not done.

It does raise the question as to how serious the government is about capping or committing not to increase the number of members. Rather than just taking a chance on a proper proposal or a commitment coming out of a new process, it would be far better to make that commitment right up front as a condition of going in a different direction with the process rather than hoping that somehow it comes out of talks within the House or in committees in the next few months.