STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE ON
COMITÉ MIXTE PERMANENT DES
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, April 28, 1998
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.)):
On behalf of Rose-Marie Losier-Cool and myself, we'll
call the meeting of official languages to order at
Welcome, Professor Castonguay. Welcome, Professor
Torczyner. We're looking forward to hearing your
I will ask Mr. Castonguay to begin, followed by Mr. Torczymer.
We will then move on to questions from the members of the
committee. We will begin the question period with the Reform Party,
followed by the Bloc Québécois, the Progressive Conservative Party
and, if a Liberal member comes, the Liberal Party.
Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Peticodiac, NDP): Will the New
Democratic Party come before the Progressive Conservative Party?
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): No, you are right.
I'm sorry. You will be the third party. The fourth party is over
Professor Castonguay, would you please proceed?
Professor Charles Castonguay (University
of Ottawa): Thank you very much. It's a pleasure
to appear here. I was informed by Madam Isles that
you wanted to hear what I had to say about the 1996
census data on language. I prepared a certain number
of things I thought would interest you, which I thought
I might comment on, perceptions that have been expressed
already concerning those data, either by the
Commissioner of Official Languages or by the director
of Statistic Canada's demographics division, who
appeared before this committee on February 17. I
thought this might be a most interesting way to present
things—rather than another descriptive paper,
something more discussable.
If you don't mind, I'm going
to use my mother tongue, since I'm in my home town, and
of course I'll answer in French if questions are
addressed to me in French later on.
The first point I want to bring to your attention is
the demographic collapse of the French-speaking
populations in Canada. I'm referring here, of course,
to French as a first language. There's a table on the
1996 data for mother tongue, as compared to the data
that the B and B Commission worked on in the mid-1960s,
which came from the 1961 census. In this I just
compared the number of young children, age 0 to 9, to the
number of young adults, age 25 to 34, who would likely be
their parents. A 25-year gap between these two 10-year
age groups represents roughly a generation.
The way things presented themselves in the 1960s, in
the 1961 census, as you see, there are many more
children than young adults.
In regard to the
reproduction of the French mother tongue population in
Canada, in Quebec and outside of Quebec, there was no
problem at the time. The birth rates had just begun to
start to drop and demographers had no idea at the time
how low they would go.
Now, 35 years later, which is a third of a century, we're
in 1996 and you see a complete reversal of the
situation. The number of children is less than the
number of young adults, and that's a trend I've
witnessed now over the last 15 years, over at least the
last three censuses. There's a deficit from one
generation to the next.
The deficit is particularly striking outside of
Quebec. As you see in the table, there are 88,000
French mother tongue children age 0 to 9 in 1996 as
against 150,000 young adults of an age to be their
parents, or a 25-year gap, as I explained, between the
two age groups.
You can calculate a ratio on the basis of these
figures. It's called the reproduction ratio.
Outside of Quebec, the reproduction ratio, for which the
numerator would be the number of children and the
denominator would be the number of adults, is of the
order of 58%, which means there's a deficit in the
order of 42% between generations outside of Quebec
The first red herring I'd like to chase down is
that of the Commissioner of Official Languages, who, in
his latest annual report, suggested that the decrease
in the number of francophones outside of Quebec might
only be temporary and circumstantial. That is not at
all the case. You can fully expect that the decrease
will be more and more rapid, and there is no end to it
I repeat, the deficit is 42% for the total
French-speaking population outside of Quebec. That
spells population decline not only in proportion but
in absolute numbers, and it's started already in both
If you want to look at the data by province, I've
calculated the reproduction ratio by province. As you
see, even in New Brunswick the ratio is 72%, meaning
that for three children there are four adults. There's
a 25% shortfall between generations among francophones,
the French mother tongue population, even in New Brunswick.
Outside of New Brunswick it's just horrendous.
There's no way to get away from this.
Unless there are large numbers of French
Quebeckers moving out of Quebec, the next census and the
following census and so forth will show a decline in
numbers. You can't get out from under this kind of
deficit. This is a major historical reversal in
demographic trends in Canada since the beginning of
the French colony. This was never seen before.
There are two explanations for this: one is inadequate
fertility; the other is linguistic assimilation.
The director of Statistics Canada demographics division
told you it was basically fertility that was the
I dare contradict Mr. Lachapelle, whom I know
very well. The main factor is anglicization. To make
my point, I think you should compare the demographic
deficit as calculated by this reproduction ratio for
the French-speaking population in Canada, the French mother
tongue population. It's 82% on the basis of the data
under the 1996 columns in that table. So there's a
shortfall of 18% overall. Quebec is included in this,
The reproduction ratio for English is 98%. In other
words, the number of children age 0 to 9 compared to
the number of young, English mother tongue adults age
25 to 34, is practically equal. There's literally no
difference between the number of children and the
number of adults.
Both populations are inadequately fertile. The
English mother tongue population saw its fertility drop
some 10 years before the drop in fertility among the
French population, but it was infertile even before the
French mother tongue population.
No one is discussing in Canada at this moment, to my
knowledge, anything like the beginning of a decline in
numbers of anglo-Canadians, English-speaking Canadians.
One hears a lot of talk about the aging of the Canadian
population. Aging is one thing, but what the French language
population has in store for it is not only
decline in proportion, which has been going on since
the Second World War, but a decline in absolute
numbers, which will begin apparently in Quebec
somewhere during the first quarter of the next century
and earlier certainly in the whole of Canada, because
the demographics, as we see, of French outside of
Quebec are downright disastrous.
That's what the future holds in store. I'm not a
demographer, I'm a mathematician, but I can count, and
when the reproduction ratio of English is 98%, that
means that even though the English mother tongue population
is infertile, it practically makes up for its shortfall
through assimilation of francophones and allophones,
who in turn bring their children up in English and
therefore they're a gain for the
English mother tongue population.
So that's how that mechanism works between
generations. The young adults become anglicized, bring
up their children in English, and there you've solved
the problem of the demographic shortfall through the
infertility of the English-speaking population.
So I beg to differ with Mr. Lachapelle: fertility is not
the main problem; it's linguistic
assimilation. Say the French-speaking population in
Canada francized the allophone population according
to its weight. As you see in this paper, there was a
gain of about 2.2 million for the English language in
Canada through language shift.
Now, 2.2 million is a lot of people. If a
quarter of them went to French instead of going to
English, that would mean 500,000 more francophones.
That's the main home language. Many of these new
francophones, of course, would bring up their children
in French, which would make up for the lack of
fertility among the French-speaking population.
Given the fact that both major language groups in
Canada—English and French—are both just about equally
infertile, linguistic assimilation is what makes the
difference, which explains why the
English mother tongue population in Canada is
maintaining its weight in percentage terms and is
growing in absolute numbers. It has no foreseeable
demographic problem for its future, but there is one
for the French population.
Mr. Goldbloom, in his latest annual report, tried to
turn on a ray of hope by comparing the growth in the
assimilation rate of francophone populations outside of
Quebec. Over the last five-year period, the rate of
growth was less than the growth of the anglicization
rate of francophones outside of Quebec over the 1981-1991
The problem with the perspective that the Commissioner
of Official Languages projects on this basis is that
he's projecting the image that the increase in the
anglicization rate seems to be slowing down, meaning
that perhaps the anglicization rate will end up
somewhere around 35%, 40%. That's where it is now, and
maybe it will sort of level off.
That's basically wrong, because Statistics Canada used
a new questionnaire in 1991, and the jump in the rate
of anglicization among francophones outside of Quebec
between 1981 and 1991 is a statistical artifact. It is due
to the introduction of the new questionnaire, which
overnight anglicized something in the order of 600,000
more allophones in Canada.
This is just to give you an idea of the impact of what
the new questionnaire was on linguistic assimilation.
It inflated the linguistic assimilation of minorities
of all types to regional majorities of all types.
Francophones outside of Quebec were apparently suddenly
more anglicized than before, allophones were more
anglicized, anglophones in Quebec were more francized,
and allophones in Quebec were more francized.
It just worked that way. I can't give you an
explanation for it, but I can tell you that it is a
fact. The apparent slowing down of the rate of
increase of the anglicization rate of the
French-speaking population outside of Quebec during the
last five-year period is a statistical artifact, and
Mr. Goldbloom, unfortunately, is leading you down the
alley on that matter.
I mentioned that the English-speaking population in
Quebec has succeeded in stabilizing itself over the
last five-year period. That just illustrates how an
English-language population in Canada can, through
linguistic assimilation, succeed in getting out from
under two strikes against it. The anglos in Quebec
have two strikes against them.
One strike is inadequate fertility. They've been
inadequately fertile for at least ten years more than
the francophones in Quebec.
Another strike is migration out. There's a “go west,
young man and young woman” trend, which works in the
maritimes also, and they're looking for job
opportunities. There are, of course, other
explanations, but I think basically the main
explanation is the economics of the North American
continent. You see it south of the border also.
So the anglophone population in Quebec has those two
strikes against them. They made up for it over the
last five years through linguistic assimilation. The
number of English home language Quebeckers is roughly
the same in 1996 as it was in 1991. I think there are
even a thousand more, but we won't quibble over that as
this is not statistically significant.
So that's another illustration of where even with
inadequate fertility and a migratory deficit present, a
population, even a minority population, can make up for
that and maintain its numbers through linguistic
This is not at all the scenario that holds for
French, be it inside or outside of Quebec.
The director of Statistics Canada's demographics
division told you the ethnic origin information
is no longer used by anyone in Canada. I'm sorry, but I
signed an article in Le Devoir on April 1, 1996
in which I used the ethnic origin data.
The interest in ethnic origin data for measuring
language shift or linguistic assimilation is it's the
only way to get a historical perspective on what the
impact of anglicization or francization has been
over several decades, or over several centuries for that
In the 1971 census—this is comparing ethnic origin
and main home language—one sees that 54% of Canadians
of French origin outside of Quebec have adopted
English as main home language. Either they have done
so or their parents or ancestors have done so. So a
little more than half of the French origin population
outside of Quebec in 1971 was of an English home
Then 20 years later, 1991, that statistic had
increased to two-thirds, 67%.
That was the last time we were able to use the origin
data to measure cumulative assimilation over
generations because Statistics Canada decided to cave
in to a pressure group for the 1996 census and include
“Canadian” among the suggested answers to the
question on the 1996 census questionnaire, which
was a catastrophe.
It turned out that there were something like nine
million Canadians overnight of Canadian ethnic origin,
but those of French ethnic origin in Canada dropped
from seven million to four million overnight also. Of
course; Canadians had to come from somewhere. The
British ethnic origin also dropped.
Of course, all groups dropped in favour of this new
category, but this new category is not an ethnic origin
or ethnic group. Statistics Canada is ready to admit
this, but they simply say that the pressure was so
strong for changing the question in this way that they
had to give into it.
In the words of Mr. Fellegi, who is Canada's
chief statistician, resisting this kind of pressure is
“like peeing in the wind. It blows back in your
Now there's a very interesting series of articles in the
Ottawa Citizen between February 17 and February
23, ending with that quote from Mr. Fellegi, which was a
somewhat arrogant answer, in my opinion. I think it's
Once again, Mr. Lachapelle led you down the garden
path on this question, saying that in the United
States they ask basically the same question. That is
thoroughly not true. They go through all the tricks of
the statistical trade at the U.S. Census Bureau to
ensure that Americans do not answer “American” to the
ethnic origin question. The question is there
to see whether blacks, hispanophones, Italians, Poles,
and people of all kinds of different ethnic origin are
getting on in American society. Are they getting up to
the upper ladders? How are they doing economically?
Is their education up to par with the British-origin
These questions, of course, are
of vital interest to Canada as well concerning its own
So I would say that you've been misled on a certain
number of points.
Insofar as improving the census data, I'd like to end
with this idea, perhaps. Mr. Lachapelle mentioned that
at Statistics Canada they are going to test a new
question involving current home language. The idea is
to improve census information on assimilation by
expanding the current home language concept into a
two-level question, which will, firstly, ask Canadians
what language they speak most often at home. We have
that information now. That allows us to measure
language shift or linguistic assimilation.
Secondly, at the second level of the question, they
will ask what other languages they speak at home.
In my opinion, that extra question is not going to be
very useful, unless you find out who is speaking what
to whom at home, under what circumstances, and for what
reason. Parents can speak to each other in one
language and address their children in another. The
children can speak among themselves in another
language, they can speak with their friends, and in the
presence of grandparents during a Sunday dinner they
might be using something else.
You get this kind of information through in-depth
surveys. A census is not the instrument for going into
this kind of depth. So I would suggest that if
Statistics Canada is really interested in improving its
data on language shift or linguistic assimilation, it
should instead turn to the question about mother
tongue, which is extremely ill-formulated at present,
and make it into a two-level question.
The first level would be the following, but let's read
the question as it is now first.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): You'll
find that inside the report before you, everybody.
Prof. Charles Castonguay: It's on page 7,
What is the language that this person first
learned at home in childhood and still understands? If
this person no longer understands the first language
learned, indicate the second language learned.
You almost need a Ph.D. in sociology or linguistics or
something on that order to understand what they're
getting at here, and it is actually basically
Some people do lose the ability to understand their
mother tongue. They are now invited to give something
other than their mother tongue. What this means is
that someone of Italian mother tongue or French mother
tongue—or any mother tongue, for that matter—who
switches to another language as the current home
language, who becomes anglicized or francized, and
becomes anglicized or francized to the point of not
being able to understand his or her mother tongue after
a few decades, is obliged to give English or French as
his or her mother tongue.
That means we're systematically underestimating the
minority language populations with the present question
about mother tongue, and it means we're
systematically underestimating language shift, because
Statistics Canada, through its actual present question,
cannot record what is called “language loss”, which
means linguistic assimilation that is so deep that
you've lost the passive ability to understand your
That does happen to the French-speaking minority
in Windsor. It does happen in Saskatchewan. It does
happen in areas of Canada where minorities.... I'm
speaking now of official language minorities and of the
French official language minority, specifically because
the English-speaking minority in Quebec is not up
against any great francization rates, but the
French-speaking minorities outside of Quebec are on the
ropes, thanks to assimilation.
We have been systematically underestimating their
numbers at every census since 1941, which has
repercussions, I think, that you—this particular
committee—should perhaps think about in terms of
thinking of what they're called in French, “les ayant
droit”. I don't know what this means in English.
It's a term meaning that you have the right, according
to the Canadian Charter of Rights, to have your
children schooled in the official minority language of
Statistics Canada is systematically underestimating
the populations that have this right by using this
clause about how you still have to understand your
mother tongue. After all, it's not the parents who are
going to school; it's the children.
There are many unilingual English children of
French origin outside of Quebec who go to school
because their parents are of French mother tongue and
therefore they have the right to ask for this kind of
If we had a better estimate of the true mother tongue
population, especially in areas where the French
mother tongue minority is most strongly being
assimilated to English...that is exactly where it is
more difficult to get French language schools.
So the whole economy of the question begs in favour of
modifying the mother tongue question and not the
current home language question, through a two-level
system where we could perhaps, in the first question, ask
what language did this person speak most often at home
in early childhood. That's what a mother tongue is,
according to the United Nations' definition of mother
Statistics Canada does not adhere to the
United Nations' definition of mother tongue. It adds a
condition: You must still understand it.
Well, you could test that by the second level. Do you
still understand it, or can this person still
understand it? That would end it, and we would have
data on the mother tongue population per se and then
data also on people who have lost the ability to
The last point concerns the illusion that French in
some way, shape or form is progressing in Canada. That
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): You said
that French is progressing. Is that what you said?
Prof. Charles Castonguay: Yes. That illusion is
nourished by the fact that as the French mother tongue
population declines in percentage import weight, the
percentage of bilingual Canadians is increasing.
Actually, the director of Statistics Canada's
demographics division misled you once again on that
point. Mr. Lachapelle mentioned, and I quote:
there has certainly been an increase in the number and
proportion of people [in Canada] who speak French, who
are able to speak French, either as their first or
That is false. In 1951, 32% of the Canadian
population reported ability to speak French, either as a
first or second language. In 1996, the percentage was
31%. It hasn't gone anywhere. It has remained basically
constant. If it has done anything, it has begun to
decline. In terms of proportion, this is misleading. In
terms of numbers, of course, the number of people able
to speak French is still increasing because the French
mother tongue population is still on the increase. The
echo of the baby boom is still around, and children are
still in sufficient numbers to ensure the increase of
the population for a couple of more decades, probably.
So it is false, but it's also false in a deeper sense.
I'm not going to quibble about one or two percent. It's
false in the following sense: for people who speak
French as a second language, this degree of
mastery, the quality of the French, the significance of
this fact, cannot be compared with speaking French as a
first language. Speaking French as a first language is
one thing; speaking it as a second language is
Just to bring that point home, my last
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): You've
now been speaking for 30 minutes. I think it's time to
Prof. Charles Castonguay: May I make one last
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Yes.
Prof. Charles Castonguay: I think this will
interest you tremendously.
Statistics Canada tested in 1988 a more precise
question on ability to conduct a conversation in French
or in English. This was the famous official languages
question in the Canadian census, which you're very
interested in. Social scientists have criticized this
question as not being very significant. Can this
person speak English or French well enough to conduct a
conversation? What does that mean, conduct a
So Statistics Canada tested a new question in 1988 in
its national census test where a few words were added
to make the level of competence more precise: Can
this person speak English or French well enough to
conduct a conversation of some length on different
topics? Those words were added “of some length
on different topics”.
As a result of adding those four words, the number of
anglophones outside of Quebec who reported ability to
conduct a conversation in Quebec was cut in two. There
were half as many reporting themselves as being
bilingual as an answer to the sort of loose question
that is used in the censuses.
I think it is really leading you down the garden
path to pretend that in some way an increase in French
as a second language compensates for the decrease in
French as the main mother tongue or main home language.
There's no comparison between the significance of what
it means to speak a language as a first language and to
speak a language as a second language, especially if
you keep in mind these results from the 1988 census
Thank you. I'm sorry if I spent a little time.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Merci
beaucoup, Monsieur Castonguay.
Professor Torczyner, please.
Professor Tim Torczyner (Director, McGill
Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training (MCHRAT)
and McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic
Social Planning (MCESSP)): Thank you. I'm neither a
linguist nor a mathematician. I'm a social worker and
proud of it. I've been asked to present here in
relation to the census and because, after all, social
work is about people and so is the census.
I direct an institute at McGill, the Montreal
Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy Training and the
McGill Consortium for Ethnicity and Strategic Social
Planning. We combine demography and an analysis of
ethnic groups in Canada based on the census, social
work, and law. On social work, how does data in census
have an impact on the aspirations and hopes and
struggles of various groups in Canada? On law, how do
laws impact on those ethnic groups and the reverse? So
we put the three together.
Let me start by saying the right to dignity, as
guaranteed in the charter, begins with the right to be
counted, and to be counted in an accurate way. The
right to be included begins with the right to know and
the right to have access to public information that is
collected about various groups. The right to equality
is premised on an ability to compare or understand
particular groups with Canadian society as a whole. In
that context, I think it's important to understand why
the census is terribly important to achieve those
goals, and in particular why issues of ethnicity and
language are terribly important in that domain as well.
We brought material to this committee about some of
our studies on both blacks in Canada and Jews in
Canada. They show different paths. They show
different issues highlighted in each community, which is
made available to us through the census.
For example, if one wants to understand why the
incidences of child poverty are so dramatically high
among the black communities in Canada, one first of all
needs to be able to accurately have a good count of how
many blacks there are in this country.
In Quebec, to the present day, the official
organization, the ministry of immigration and cultural
communities for all the citizens of Quebec, publishes
information that shows there are 60,000 blacks in the
province. Our data showed there were 100,000. The
data recently released by Statistics Canada, based on
the 1996 census, show 120,000. That's twice the number
as published in the official publications by the
Government of Quebec. Why is that?
In part it's because of the complexity in
understanding the concept of ethnicity and how to
measure it in census terms.
The government publications
in Quebec are based on a single variable of which
ethnic group you belong to. Many blacks do not
indicate they belong to an ethnic group called black.
Many indicate they're Canadian, many indicate they're
from their country of origin, and some don't even do
that. For example, a large percentage of Haitians in
the census put down their ethnic identification as
French and a large percentage of Jamaicans put down
their ethnic identification as British.
If we're going to try to get at these important
questions of what constitutes this society we're part
of, who is in it and who's not, we need to begin with
definitions of how to count people adequately.
I believe the Canadian census tries to do that, and it
is a very difficult task. I believe it is fairly
common practice to bash the Canadian census about what
it doesn't do, but I think it's important to recognize it
is considered to be the finest census available
today anywhere in the world. It is far more accessible
than the U.S. census and far more detailed. Its
reliability and accuracy are far greater than other
censuses conducted where people have a choice in the
world today, but it has difficult problems in
measurement, difficult problems in understanding
ethnicity in census terms.
Let me, for example, talk about the Jewish community.
Based on the 1986 census, an article appeared in the
Canadian Jewish News by a colleague at York
University that bemoaned the demise of the Jewish
community in Canada. It said in 1986 only
250,000 persons in Canada answered on the census that they
were Jewish by ethnicity. Therefore, since in 1981
there were 300,000, the community is disappearing by
assimilation. Yet in 1991, all of a sudden there were
360,000, not 250,000 and not 300,000. What happened?
Each group that becomes part of this Canadian mosaic
identifies itself in unique ways. The Jewish
community, by and large, does not identify itself as an
ethnic group but more as a religious group. There are
variations. The farther west you go the more likely
people in the Jewish community identify ethnically.
The farther east you go until Montreal—not east of
that—the more people are likely to identify
Since the 1986 and 1996 censuses did not ask the
question of religion but only the question of
ethnicity, the response rate was lower. Similarly, as I
mentioned, how one counts blacks in census terms is a
very difficult conceptual issue that also points to the
disparity in numbers one gets, depending on the
A lot of important work has been done in collecting
information. My concerns are not that the census
doesn't collect information; it does, and it does so
quite well. The question is, how does that information
become retrievable to the public at large? How does
that information get stored in computers and in
programs so if members of this committee needed to
know, for example, the linguistic composition of the
various ethnic groups in Montreal, they would have an
accurate count of the ethnic groups and of languages
and language ability.
That's really where the problem is. The problem is in
the retrieval of data as well as in the questions
asked. If the data gets retrieved in a way that
allows one to say “I am either an ethnic in this group
or that group” by a single choice, or “I'm an ethnic”
by a multiple choice, because you have the two concepts
of single ethnicity and multiple ethnicity, the data
are retrieved in a way that doesn't
let us get at important questions we have.
It doesn't say to us—to me—what's interesting, which are
the various combinations of Canadians who are also
Jewish or Polish and all the combinations in
between, or French-speaking or English-speaking. To do
that, one has to design sophisticated methods of
analysis to retrieve the data in a way that becomes
The information we provided to the committee is an
example, first of all, of how census information can
tell groups about where they stand in this country, how
they compare to other groups, where they've come from,
and where they're going. That's important both to the
groups themselves as well as, I believe, to
The ability to use that census data in a way that
becomes meaningful both to groups and to government—I
must say a lot of that credit belongs to the Honourable
Sheila Finestone, who, as the minister responsible for
heritage at the time, pushed
forward programs that would do analyses of census data
with particular groups, so that groups would have them.
Groups, instead of talking about faint feelings of
discrimination or lack of inclusion, could look at the
data and say, “This is how we compare to other
So, for example, to go back to the question of child
poverty, we know that child poverty rates in the black
community are four times higher than they are in the
The next thing we know from the census analysis
we're able to do is that blacks
have a disproportionately higher percentage of
single-parent families. And the next set of analysis
led us to the understanding that there are 20,000 more
marriage-aged black women than men in Canada, and those
women are all from the Caribbean. Those are all
results of past immigration policy, which facilitated
women to come to work in Canada, but not their men.
If one wants to look at data and understand the
dynamics, for example, of a community that does not
have a large percentage of elders in this country, and
that has a large percentage of single-parent families
struggling with children living below the poverty line,
it is the data that objectify that. It's data that
let government and people work together to plan a
different reality, to plan the kinds of programs that
will make a difference.
Many years ago, when I started Project Genesis in
Montreal—and the Honourable Sheila Finestone at that
point was an officer of the federation in Montreal that
helped to begin this program—I did a study based on
the census on poverty among Jews in Canada,
particularly in Montreal, and discovered that one in
five Jews in Montreal lived below the poverty line—the
same percentages as the rest of the city at the time.
What does this say? Well, it promotes the opportunity
for really building a society together. If we can look
at data and say, “We may be different, our
communities may be different, we may come from
different backgrounds, we may have different
characteristics, but we share common concerns and do
have a common agenda”, then there's a very important
role that I believe the census has to play in making
information and that planning process happen between
groups who live in the society and people like
yourselves who create policy for that society.
I was asked to limit my remarks because you have to go
and vote on something else, so that's basically what I
was going to say.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you
very much, Professor Torczyner and Professor
We will start the questioning. I want to remind you
that during the questioning of witness, seven minutes
will be allocated for the first round—Reform Party,
Bloc Québécois, Liberal Party, Progressive
Conservative and New Democratic parties, and after
the second round
five minutes will be allocated alternately.
Given that we have a rather important vote coming up,
I think we will start the first round and see where the
ball lies. However, I do believe it would only be
fair, ladies and gentlemen, to include in the
proceedings of this particular meeting the fact that
the question of language transfer, language shift, or
the use of the words “language assimilation” are three of
the same language interpretive remarks that mean the
I would like the record to show—if you
will look on page 8 of your daily Statistics Canada
sheet—where, Professor Castonguay, you have given us
some figures in which you indicate that you are in
disagreement with the Chief Statistician of Canada, and
that you question those statistics, I think in the case
of Mr. Ivan Fellegi's figures, it is of interest for
anyone who will be looking at the record to know the
First of all, on page 6, the analysis says that in
1996, 19.3 million individuals in Canada spoke English
most often at home, up 4.6% from 1991. Their
proportion of the population fell slightly during the
last five years, although since 1971 it has increased
from 67% to 68%.
Similarly, the number of people who spoke French at
home in Canada increased 2.5% to 6.4 million in 1996.
However, the relative share of French home language in
the country as a whole declined from 26% in 1971 to 23%
in 1996. Between 1991 and 1996, the proportion declined
in all provinces except British Columbia and
Newfoundland, where it remained stable at a very low
In Quebec, almost 5.8 million people spoke French at
home in 1996, a 3.2% increase from 1991. They
accounted for 82.8% of the population of the province,
a slight decrease from 83% in 1991 but up from 80% in
About 762,000 people spoke English at home in Quebec
in 1996. This number has not changed since 1991.
These people comprised 11% of the population in 1996,
a decrease from 15% in 1971.
Outside Quebec, the population speaking French at home
declined from 637,000 in 1991 to 619,000 in 1996. These
individuals comprised 3% of the population.
In Quebec, language shifts were more favourable to
French than in the past—and I refer to page 7 in
which you see significant increases in the use of
French in Quebec.
The last point is that English-French bilingualism
gained ground in Canada over the last five years. It
indicates some very important statistics in light
of the fact that in 1996, 17% of the population, or 4.8
million people, could speak both official languages,
compared with slightly over 16%, or 4.4 million, in
1991, and 13%, or 2.9 million, in 1971.
Quebec was still the province with the highest rate of
bilingualism. Between 1971 and 1996, the proportion of
bilingual people in Quebec increased from 28% to 38%.
In second place was New Brunswick, where 33% of the
population was bilingual in 1996, compared with 22% in
In Ontario, which had the third highest rate, the
percentage of the population that was bilingual
increased over a 25-year period from 9% to 12%.
In general, the census in the metropolitan areas in
Quebec had the highest percentage of bilingual people.
One half of Montreal's population was bilingual;
Ottawa-Hull, 44%; and Sudbury, 40%.
I think it is important to note that the
statisticians indicate that there are two reasons—not
one reason—for the change in the number of people who
use the language and the net impact of mother tongue.
It's the fact that they both are impacted by the immigration
that has come into this country over the last 20
years, something that I think you forgot to put into
your calculation, which I think is a rather significant
Thank you very much for your presentations, both of
We'll start the questioning. Val Meredith, please.
Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White
Rock—Langley, Ref.): Thank you, Madam Chair.
I seem to have a different reality of this country.
Maybe it's because I'm from the west coast of Canada.
I was interested in your comment that you don't hear
anybody complaining of a declining anglophone
You obviously don't live in Richmond or Vancouver,
British Columbia. There is a concern of declining
anglophone populations because of immigration from
I know it's not an official language, but
in Ottawa, in government circles, we seem
to completely avoid the discussion that there is
another growing language in Canada. It is neither
English nor French, and I think our statistics should
maybe start reflecting that there is this other
language coming to bear.
I want to challenge your criticism of using
“Canadian”. I know it doesn't sit well with
demographers and perhaps social workers, but the
reality of western Canada is that you have children who
are fifth-, sixth- and seventh-generation individuals
whose ethnicity is so diverse and convoluted because
parents of multi-ethnic backgrounds married parents
with multi-ethnic backgrounds who married over and over
So with a child who may come from six or
seven ethnic backgrounds through three or four
generations, what do they pick when they're asked to
select what ethnic background they have? When you have
a child—I know of several—who speaks three or four
languages by the time they're one year old because of
the ethnicity of the parents, what is their mother
tongue? When they are fluent in three or four
languages, what is their mother tongue?
I think this is the reality of at least western
Canada. I can't speak for eastern Canada because I'm
not familiar with it.
You're asking young Canadians to pick and choose.
I would suggest to you that the reality is that they
are Canadian. When you have this multi-ethnicity in
your background of three, four, five, or six
generations, you are Canadian. If somebody can call
themselves a Frenchman, an Italian, or a Greek, why can't a
Canadian not call themselves Canadian, if that's their
heritage and background?
So I challenge you. Perhaps it's not clean and nice
for demographers, mathematicians, or social workers
in trying to define what's happening in this country.
I would suggest that perhaps it's time Canada just
accepts what's happening in this country and stops
trying to categorize people.
Mr. Torczyner, you commented on the black community
versus the Canadian community. You seem to be assuming
that the black community is homogeneous or people
assume that the Chinese community is homogeneous. We
even assume that the aboriginal, the original
Canadians, are homogeneous. They are not.
I think when you start talking about statistics and
categorizing people you forget that we're not all
homogeneous. Say you want people to determine
themselves based on colour. I say I'm white and the
black Canadian says they're black. Does that mean
they're homogeneous or I'm homogeneous to all the
white people who are sitting around here? No.
So I think a lot of that categorizing gives as much
false information as you would claim is there for other
reasons. So I challenge your criticism of the way we
ask questions, and I think perhaps it's time to allow
Canadians to see themselves as an ethnic group.
I'm a little concerned with some of the comments about
assimilation. You implied that this is something that
can be stopped. Mr. Castonguay, I question that. I
look at government policies—the B and B
commission, the Official Languages Act, and the
new legislation in the province of Quebec—that are
trying to address the loss of the French language in
Canada, and you're telling me that all of these
for over 30 years haven't worked.
As a matter of fact, the situation is even worse.
Then I would ask you: if that's the case, what can be
done about it? If your concern is that the French
language is being lost with all this government program
and involvement over 30 years, particularly in the
province of Quebec, what can be done about it?
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): We have a
few minutes. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this is the
only way to handle this. Because of the time
constraint, I think that as Val has started out and has
taken seven and a half minutes—she's only allowed
seven minutes with answers, so let's be fair—we'll
give you each three and a half minutes to seven
minutes. So the two of you will have seven minutes, and
each one of the members around the table will get the
same kind of treatment, if they don't have more or less
Messrs Castonguay or Torczyner, who wants to go first?
Prof. Tim Torczyner: First of all, I agree with
most of what you're saying; therefore, I don't consider
it criticism. The study we sent you is called “The
Dynamics of Black Communities in Canada”. The
name of the project was the Canadian Black Communities
Demographics Project. That's precisely the point.
From the census, you can see the diversity of those
communities. They're not uniform. It's precisely
because the census can give you that information that
it's important. That's in terms of that response.
Similarly, look at what we're able to get at from the
census in terms of the Jewish community. We're able to
do a profile of Holocaust survivors or Jews from middle
eastern countries. There's a whole diverse kind of a
community that is Canadian-hyphenated, Jewish-hyphenated
this and that and whatever else. So the census is a
tool to do that.
I don't disagree with the criticism about Canadianism
as an ethnicity. I think there may be some conceptual
stuff about what that really means. But the
same conceptual issues would be around any other group.
The question is when the choice of “Canadian” as the
ethnic choice on a census becomes a political platform
rather than a tool to understand ourselves better.
In other words, if people say they're going to say
“Canadian” because they don't like this hyphenated
other stuff, I disagree with that. I think that
hyphenated other stuff is the richness of who we
You say that people have been here—this is especially
so on the west coast, and I moved here from Berkeley,
which is a little south, but still—for many
generations and that their ancestry is such that
Canadian is an appropriate description.
Well, it is.
But I think it's also interesting to know what that
ancestry is about, and the census gives us that. The
problem is—this is what I meant earlier—that the census
does not allow us to retrieve that data. The census
gives us two choices: Are you singly an ethnic group?
Do you choose one or a multiple?
It doesn't let you get at the data—this is what
you're getting at and what we try to get at—to look at
the full, rich texture of this country and the groups
and the subgroups that are within it by being able to
retrieve the data that are asked for in a useful way.
Prof. Charles Castonguay: I don't know if the
English-speaking population is on decline in Vancouver
or in the suburbs of Vancouver. If you're speaking of
decline as a percentage, that's quite possible, but I
was talking of a decline that is around the corner for
the French-speaking population in Canada in terms of
No one is talking of a decline in the English-speaking
population in terms of absolute numbers, to my
knowledge. In Vancouver, New Richmond, or anywhere
else out west, numbers are growing. As for the Chinese
and their children, many of them will be of an English
mother tongue. They'll be schooled with anglophones.
They'll marry anglophones. Nature will follow its
course. Don't worry about that.
As for ethnic origin, I think your answer was quite
relevant. In the United States, they do not encourage
“American” as an ethnic origin.
It's supposed to be more
of a melting pot than Canada, yet the U.S. Census
Bureau does all it can to avoid people declaring
For example, among the prompts for
the answer to the origin question on the U.S. census,
rather than write “American-African”, they write “Am.
African”—I'm quoting the Citizen article of
February 20, I believe—so that people
won't see the word “American” and be tempted to answer
Apparently, 5% of American citizens nevertheless
count themselves in as American. It unfortunately is
not very useful for those who are interested in the
richness of the mosaic of the texture of the American
population. The same comment can be transposed to the
I don't think we're learning anything. “Canadian” is a
citizenship. It's a nationality. That's on your
passport, and it is stated in the census brochure that
accompanies the questionnaire “Do not confuse origin with
citizenship or nationality.”
StatsCan is definitely very confused here by
admitting “Canadian” as an admissible answer. It is
contradicting itself outright, and we're losing data.
We're losing interesting information on the origins of
the Canadian population.
The question used to hearken back to upon first coming
to this continent, and I think that was a pretty good
idea. Now we have three questions on aboriginal
populations in Canada, so we're fairly well
served from that point of view, but maybe we should
bring that back into the census question.
As to how to stop assimilation, francization is
gaining among recent immigrants to the Montreal
metropolitan area, since the mid-1970s. Among
allophones who switch to either English or French, among
those who have arrived since the mid-seventies, 70% opt
for French as opposed to 30% for English. There is a
big change in language shift, due probably to Quebec
language policy in the province of Quebec and
immigration policy and selection procedures and things
So it is possible to turn things around. I don't
think it's possible to turn things around insofar as
the French minorities outside of Quebec are concerned
until one recognizes that Canada is not only bilingual
but basically bicultural and binational, and I think,
with the direction the B and B commission
was taking, and which unfortunately got sidetracked,
that is one of the big issues about how to change the
rules of the game.
I don't think the Official Languages Act changed
the rules of the game sufficiently outside of Quebec to
make any difference, and the proof seems to be there in
terms of numbers.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Richelieu, BQ): I have a few short
questions. First, our Joint Chair read a statement following your
two presentations. Mr. Castonguay, I would like to hear your
reaction to that. Does it contradict or supplement what you stated?
Second, when I asked Mr. Lachapelle a question about that
famous change made by Statistics Canada to the question regarding
Canadian ethnic origin, he said that Canada was lagging behind and
that in Europe and other parts of the world they had been asking
the question that way for 15 years.
You just said that insofar as you know, that is far from being
the case in the United States. I realize therefore Mr. Lachapelle
did not place his answer to my question in a North American
context. I would be grateful if you could tell me whether you know
the kind of questionnaire used in Europe.
Second, you referred to the United Nations in your
presentation. I would be grateful if you could elaborate on that.
Lastly, I would be pleased if you could suggest to us what
would be the most useful questions to enable us to analyze
objectively the situation of francophones, anglophones and other
language groups with respect to this question of mother tongue or
language spoken at home. What is the precise question that should
On the other point, it would appear that the term "Canadian"
should be removed from the list of possible ethnic backgrounds
given in the questionnaire. I look forward to hearing your views.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: As Ms. Finestone mentioned, the
percentage of bilingual individuals in Canada is one thing. I
attended the press conference held at 8:30 where the statistics to
which you referred were stated.
Following the presentation, I asked two questions. I asked the
speaker how many Canadians in Canada can speak French, and how many
can speak English. I did not get an answer to either of those
As I mentioned in my presentation, for the first time in the
history of Canadian censuses, we see a drop in the absolute number
of unilingual francophones in Canada. Unilingual francophones are
found essentially in Quebec and New Brunswick, in the Acadian
peninsula or Madawaska, in the heart of Quebec, around the Quebec
City region, Bois-Francs, Beauce, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean,
Mauricie, etc. During the five-year period between 1991 and 1996,
we have seen a drop of about 300 unilingual francophones. That is
not very many, but it is the first time this has occurred, and I am
sure that this trend will continue. Francophones are becoming
increasingly bilingual, both in Quebec and outside Quebec.
As regards anglophone unilingualism, I gave the statistic in
my presentation. During every five-year period since 1951 the
number of unilingual anglophones in Canada has increased by an
average of one million.
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): If that happens, what
will the population of Canada be?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: I can assure you that the anglophone
population of Canada has increased enormously since the Second
World War. Unilingual English-speakers, obviously, are not only
anglophones. As you mentioned, they cover allophone immigrants who
adopt english as their language of use at home or not, preferring
to retain their mother tongue, and they learn English but not
To assess the number of people in Canada who can speak French,
you have to look at those bilingual people who speak English and
French, and then add them to French-speaking unilinguals. This
gives you the number of people in Canada able to speak French. This
percentage dropped from 32 to 31 per cent between 1951 and 1996. To
obtain the number of people able to speak English, you add the
bilinguals to those who speak only English. As a result, it can be
seen that 79 per cent of the Canadian population were able to speak
English in 1951, whereas the figure in 1996 was 84 per cent. So
there has been an increase in the percentage of Canadians able to
speak English, while there has been a slight drop in the percentage
of the Canadian population able to speak French.
I'm not surprised that when reading what you read, namely the
main points of the press conference which I attended, you didn't
see that Statistics Canada was pulling the wool over our eyes with
the figures on bilingualism. If you want to see how the French and
English languages are developing in Canada, you also have to look
at unilinguals, those people who know only French or English. Then
you will see something new. It is quite astounding that the speaker
himself was not able to answer such a simple question when giving
I'm also talking about immigrants. When I refer to the 2.2
million Canadians whose mother tongue was not English and who have
become anglophones or mainly use English at home, I am of course
including the very large number of immigrant allophones. There are
also francophones, but the majority of these are allophones, and in
most cases they are immigrants. This answers the first question.
Your second question concerned European countries, and I'm
trying to think of countries which are officially bilingual. In
Belgium, for example, no questions are asked regarding language or
ethnic origin, and there is no multiculturalism policy. Insofar as
I know, very seldom are such questions asked. Nor are questions
asked in France about one's ethnic origin. In France everyone is
French; it is the Jacobin influence, the Republican model. They try
to even out differences and pretend that everyone is equal.
Principles of equality, fraternity and such like are invoked. It's
almost unconstitutional to describe France as a mosaic of peoples,
whereas that is what it is.
It is very interesting to look at France from the point of
view of its population, be it immigrant, Native, Alsatian, Breton,
Corsican, etc. There are all sorts of regional communities in
In the United Nations, the concept of mother tongue is
defined—I'll explain this in English because to me the terms come
more easily to mind—as follows.
It would be the first language in childhood, basically,
or the first language during childhood. In my view, the most open
way of putting the question would be to ask what language the
person spoke most often at home during his or her childhood, what
was his or her main language. In other words, you would take the
current question on language of usage at home and place it in the
context of the individual's home during his or her childhood, and
this would give you a very good wording for a question on the
original mother tongue.
Have I answered all your questions?
Mr. Louis Plamondon: The issue of the United States and the
United Nations were dealt with. You've just answered my question
about the wording of the question regarding the language of use at
Mr. Charles Castonguay: In an article written before the one
I've been referring to, Mr. Lachapelle proposed the following
wording: What is the language this person spoke most often at home
during his or her childhood? This focusses on a principal pattern
of behaviour. That's it. I could find the reference for you.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: When Commissioner Goldbloom appeared, he
said that the slight downward trend in numbers for the francophone
community might be only temporary. He indicated this on page 16 of
his Report. From what you are saying, that is quite incorrect.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: The statistics are there. I pointed
out in the first table...
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Because of the age pyramid.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Yes. The deficit between generations
is approximately 42% for francophones outside Quebec: if you take
a 25-year gap, for example a group from zero to nine years of age,
and then compare it with a group from 25 to 44 years of age, you
find that there are 42% fewer children than young adults.
If you look at the deficit province by province, you can see
that in New Brunswick, it is only 28%, whereas in British Columbia
the figure is 72%; there is one child for every four young adults.
In demographic terms, there is no future for the francophone
minority in New Brunswick given this kind of...
Mr. Louis Plamondon: In British Columbia?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Yes, in British Columbia. Did I say
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Yes, you said New Brunswick.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: There are problems in New Brunswick
too. The linguistic reproduction rate for English is 90%. That's
not bad, nine children for ten adults; they are almost managing to
maintain the same percentage, although their fertility rate is
inadequate, as is also the case with the Acadians today. It takes
two people to make a child. Anglophones in New Brunswick are faced
with the same problem of under-fertility, but they can offset this
almost perfectly through the anglicization of some Acadians and
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): Thank you. It's now
the Liberals' turn.
Everything depends on what part of Canada you come from.
Have a fight between the two of you. One of you
please go, either Liberal or Liberal Quebec.
It comes to the same thing, doesn't it?
Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome—Missisquoi, Lib.): First, the
figures and statistics remind me of three jobs I had when I was a
In my first job, I compiled statistics for ICAO, the
International Civil Aviation Organization. Every country was asked
certain questions: how many planes they had, how many engines, etc.
You should have seen the variety of answers given by all the
countries to such a simple question. I just wanted to make that
observation at the outset regarding statistics.
Another job I had when I was a student was working for
Customs. I had already been working there for two weeks when I was
told that statistics had to be compiled. I told them that nothing
had been compiled for two weeks, and I was informed that was not
serious and that those two weeks would be done again. I was told to
sit down in a corner and say how many cars I had seen go by during
the previous two weeks, how many passengers there were and what
were their ages. I mention this just to indicate briefly to you
that there are various ways of compiling statistics.
In my third summer job, I was hired by Human Resources Canada
and my responsibility was to compile statistics on job creation for
students during the summer. An example of a student summer job
could be babysitting for three hours an evening or also a job
lasting ten weeks. At the end of the summer it was stated that 212
jobs had been created. That was a number of years ago. I mentioned
these three examples so as to remind us that what we refer to as
statistics should perhaps be seen in a certain perspective.
However, statistics can provide us with some indications and
food for thought. If professor Castonguay is right and we interpret
the statistics in the same way as he does, then we have to be
careful. When I listened to what he said, I realized that perhaps
more should be done than what has been the case to date, despite
the efforts of the government over a number of years, such as the
broadcasting of Radio-Canada from coast to coast, heritage
programs, assistance to francophone groups—and I've met a number
of these in various provinces such as British Columbia and
elsewhere—or our bilingualism policy in the federal government.
My first question is, if you were part of the Canadian
government, professor Castonguay, what more would you do than what
we are already doing, given that it is very important to keep our
francophones outside of Quebec from being isolated? I'm referring
to the situation within Canada.
My second question has to do with the part of your
presentation entitled "The Purported Progress of French in Canada"
on the second last page of your brief. I would like to go back to
the figures that you mentioned earlier. Your brief reads:
The reason for this is that while the proportion of English-French
bilinguals has increased, the proportion of French unilinguals has
decreased at the same time. In fact, the absolute number of French
unilinguals in Canada dropped by 30,000 between 1991 and 1996. This
is another historical first, and no doubt the beginning of a
I'm very pleased to see that the proportion of English-French
bilinguals in the country has increased. The more bilingual people
there are, the better. When I arrived three years ago, a new member
of Parliament in Ottawa, I was struck by the number of my
colleagues who were francophones from outside of Quebec. One really
can't overemphasize this point, but I do think that it's an
Myself, I think that focussing on old-stock francophones... I
think that someone who is a francophone or a francophile out of his
own interest, or because of his work or by necessity, someone who
chose to become a francophone is just as important as an old-stock
I have begun a student exchange project this summer. One of
the goals of the exchange is to have students from other provinces
who only speak English come and stay in francophone families, and
have francophone students from Quebec stay with English-speaking
families in other parts of Canada. If we could increase the
proportion of bilingual people, we will help the French fact in
this country. Not only is this useful, it's essential in our
I'll stop here. I await your comments.
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): It's the right time.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Denis Paradis: It's the right time! It's the right time to
stop. I would like to hear your comments, first of all responding
to the question I was asking you, and then about what more should
be done. I would also like to hear your comments about the last
paragraph in your brief, "The Purported Progress of French in
Mr. Charles Castonguay: If I were part of the Canadian
government, I would start by telling Canadians about the true
linguistic situation in the country. I would stop the
disinformation, because I don't think you can build something
sustainable on illusions or on—I'll say it in my mother tongue so
I don't get it wrong—misleading statements and so on.
Unfortunately, I have to observe that at high levels, be it
Statistics Canada or the Office of the Commissioner of Official
Languages, people are deliberately putting up a smoke screen when
it comes to information about language, and this is becoming more
and more the case. It's become truly staggering. From a scientific
point of view, from an ethical point of view, I see a major problem
in my country.
Mr. Denis Paradis: Mr. Castonguay, I'll repeat my question:
what practical things would you do?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Providing information is very
A voice: Tell us the truth.
Mr. Denis Paradis: Yes, and that's what you're trying to do
today in your own way.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: If the information were out there, I
think that English Canadians would understand.
what does French Canada want? French Canada wants to
survive, to develop, to quit worrying about
assimilation. It's been worrying about it for two
Pardon me. For two centuries, French Canada has constantly
worried about disappearing and so on. This fear absolutely must be
To do so, I think we have to go back to the spirit of the
Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission. The mandate that Lester
B. Pearson gave the commissioners was to make recommendations so
that Canada could develop
on the basis of an equal partnership between the two
That mandate explicitly recognizes the two founding peoples,
you cannot be more explicit than that. It was signed by the Privy
Council and the Prime Minister of Canada. I think that they were on
the right track at the time. Since then, we've got on the wrong
track or even on several tracks, perhaps I should put it that way.
We have gone off into multiculturalism. No one talks about
binationalism anymore. One single people, one single nation, and so
on. Really, we are systematically promoting uninationalism. I
believe that is the wrong approach, and that we should go back to
this spirit of understanding, this search for facts, because the
Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission did some excellent
Thanks to them, the question about language spoken at home has
been asked ever since 1971. They also recommended asking a question
about the language Canadians speak at work. We are still waiting
for that. We could do some research that would certainly better our
understanding of the language situation in Montreal, for example,
and in the Ottawa-Hull region, which is another good example.
Mr. Denis Paradis: Professor Castonguay, if you don't mind,
I'll remind you of what my question was. What more should we do...
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Your question was about policy.
Mr. Denis Paradis: You just answered that.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: I think that...
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Excuse me? Excuse me? Madam Chair...
Mr. Denis Paradis: He's saying it.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Fine. I prefer that.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: In 1979, I published an article in
Canadian Public Policy that was entitled
“Why Hide the Facts: The Federalist Approach to the
Language Crisis in Canada”.
I could write it again today with infinitely more examples and
hiding the facts and the federalist approach
which is the wrong approach. To my mind, as I concluded in the
article, we must take the concept of territorial bilingualism from
binational, bilingual, trilingual or multilingual countries that
have achieved a balance, where some kind of lasting peace has been
put into place—I'm thinking of Switzerland in particular—with
some changes, naturally, to adapt this concept to the very specific
situation in Canada.
There are no other countries like Canada. There is no other
context like the Canadian context in North America. Territorial
bilingualism could be something like a French-speaking Quebec, an
English-speaking Ontario, except for the southeast, the northeast
and the national capital region, and New Brunswick of course. I
would let the people of New Brunswick, the Acadians, decide for
themselves, don't you think?
So, it could be something like that, not a form of territorial
bilingualism as radical as that found in certain very democratic
countries such as Switzerland or Belgium, for I don't like the
antagonism that exists between the Flemish and Walloon communities
in Belgium. I don't think that's a good example of co-operation
between two peoples or two ethnic communities. I don't want to give
them as an example.
But Switzerland works, for example. The Swiss respect each
other and live in peace. The rules are strict. Access to schools is
quite different, depending on whether you live in a German canton,
an Italian canton or a French canton, and access to services and
all that varies quite a bit as well. I would not suggest a form of
territorial bilingualism as radical as that. But perhaps Canada
should ensure that immigrants who come to Montreal, who chose to
live in Montreal and apply for citizenship demonstrate a minimum
knowledge of French whereas elsewhere, we would ask for minimal
knowledge of English. I don't see anything wrong with that.
I see that Lithuania is asking something like that of Russian
speakers who live in Lithuania and who would like to become
citizens. I believe there is a language requirement in Lithuania.
In Germany, you must have an excellent command of German and
have been a resident for I believe 25 years before you can even
apply for German citizenship, and you won't necessarily get it.
There are lessons to be learned from various countries.
Canada's language policy could be reshaped, taking greater
inspiration from the concept of territorial bilingualism. The B&B
Commission had recommended...
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): Could you please
Mr. Charles Castonguay: ... Bilingual districts that were
supposed to provide for some elements of territoriality. That
recommendation was finally shelved. I think that was a pity.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest (Stadacona, PC): Mr. Castonguay, I
have a short question that follows up on your last comment.
Following the hypothesis that you describe, which is not a
specifically defined plan, would that mean that Quebec would become
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Quebec would be as French as it wanted
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: No, no. Would it be declared
bilingual, in the context you describe?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Declared...
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Would it become a bilingual area?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: No.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: No?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: No.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Unilingual French. But then how
can you ask to build and to introduce...
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Well, not unilingual French in that...
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: An element of territoriality in
relation to bilingualism in other regions of Canada, but not in
Mr. Charles Castonguay: At present, the federal Act is
somewhat at draggers drawn with...
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: With Bill 101. That's my concern.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: ... with Quebec's Official Language
Act. The federal Act is intended to promote English as a minority
language within Quebec.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: That's right.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: I don't know just how much extra
promotion English needs given the advantage it has, being the first
language in Canada and the first language in North America. We
would have to look at what that means in terms of media, electronic
communications facilities and so on and so forth.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Fine. I just wanted to tell you
that the concept of territoriality...
Mr. Charles Castonguay: There's a problem between the federal
Act and the Quebec Act. They are somewhat at cross-purposes, don't
you think? The federal Act promotes English; the Quebec Act tries
to promote French. The two acts should be fashioned so that they
are aiming for the same objective. And when we see French lose
ground in Canada and what the future holds in terms of that
decline, I believe it is certainly time to adjust federal policy so
that Quebec can become more French.
I would trust Quebeckers as to how French their society would
become. I am an anglophone, and I live in Quebec. I'm not afraid of
losing my mother tongue, I'm really not. And I think it's very
hypocritical of the English-speaking Quebeckers who claim that they
are up against... I've heard all sorts of things: the Townshippers
who claim that they are up against frenchification, being
assimilated and so on. I look at the statistics, and it's not true.
They don't have a problem with frenchification. Approximately the
same number of anglophones become francophones in the Eastern
Townships as there are francophones who become anglophones.
There isn't a problem, not even in areas where they are very
much in the minority. In the Montreal region and in the Outaouais,
where the main components of the English-speaking community are
found, my goodness, that attracts francophones. The francophones on
the West Island are becoming anglophones at a rate similar to that
of francophones here in Gloucester, in the suburbs of Ottawa. I
showed this in recent articles.
So, to claim that English is under attack and needs to... I
need only mention access to education and health care. We can trust
the government of Quebec, which does not seem to have acted in bad
faith in this regard.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: O.K. I read your work on that
issue. I would just like to make one remark, the point that you
made earlier: the assimilation factor for francophones in the
Outaouais, for example, or perhaps even in Montreal, does not
indicate in absolute terms that there is a threat in the nation.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Even so, they are fewer by that many.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Yes, yes. I realize that some are
Mr. Charles Castonguay: To that extent, their numbers ave
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: A few moments ago, you said that
we would no longer wonder... but that's not my question. My
question has to do, rather, with the situation of anglophones in
Quebec. Several times you stated... You probably can substantiate
your argument, but I would like you to elaborate further. People in
Quebec say or think, particularly English-speaking Quebeckers, that
the number of anglophones in Quebec has decreased. For instance,
there was a population shift that probably began in the mid 1970s
or 80s which led to a population loss. In your brief, you weren't
very specific about this point, but I would like you to specify
whether the number of anglophones in Quebec has indeed declined.
Secondly, if we disregard the compensation due to immigration,
has Quebec lost as many people because of these population shift as
the Atlantic region has? Do you understand what I'm getting at?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: The Atlantic region?
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Yes. For example, if some of
Quebec's population moved West, as you were saying, is that because
of the same phenomena as the flood of people leaving the Maritimes,
that is to say, economical and social phenomena?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: There is more to it than that.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Are there political or linguistic
reasons for these losses?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Yes.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Do you have figures to back that
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Yes. In my brief I mentioned that the
English-speaking population of Quebec has decreased by 14 per cent.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Over what period?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Between 1971 and 1991. Between 1991
and 1996, it remained stable. But there was a net loss of 14 per
cent for English spoken as the main language at home. There was no
net loss for English spoken at home in Nova Scotia or New
Brunswick. So there was more than the continental trend, the shift
to the West.
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: So it would be mostly a political
thing. Could it be for political reasons?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: Richard Joy wrote a very clear-sighted
book in 1967 entitled Languages in Conflict. Actually, it basically
was his brief submitted to the B & B Commission. It was first
published in 1967, and then reissued by McClelland & Stewart in
1972. By the way, I mentioned it in my brief.
In 1966 or 1967, when Richard Joy was writing his book, he
predicted that some anglophones were going to leave Quebec because
they would sense a movement in favour of a French Quebec, once they
saw the determination of the French-speaking majority to take its
place in the sun and to make French the language of work,
particularly in Quebec. Because of these attempts, these efforts,
this pressure, some English-speaking Quebeckers were going to leave
Quebec, because they would not want to deal with this new reality
or because they couldn't; some people have a hard time learning a
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): I'm sorry, but you're
going to have to conclude, Senator Rivest. The NDP are also
entitled to speak and we have only nine minutes remaining.
Mr. Mark Muise (West Nova, PC): And the Conservatives also.
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): Yes, but you weren't
here. And so, Mr. Conservative Senator, even if he wants to be a
Liberal, I will try to find some time for you.
Mr. Mark Muise: All the same, I am the representative of the
Conservative caucus here...
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): He is a
representative of the Parliament of Canada and this is a joint
committee. Please go ahead.
Mr. Mark Muise: I'm not at all trying to debate the point.
The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): Ms. Vautour.
Ms. Angela Vautour: Thank you. I may not take my five minutes,
and Mr. Castonguay may want to take the remaining time.
First of all, I would like to thank you for your presentation.
I think that you described the problems of minority francophones
outside Quebec very aptly. Being an Acadian, I must say that I
could empathize with everything that you were saying. I don't think
that you left much out in your presentation. You really explained
what is happening very well.
Obviously, we have concerns. We are a bit worried about the
fact that, in New Brunswick, francophones, particularly in the
Acadian Peninsula, have a very high unemployment rate and are
leaving the province.
What type of future do your foresee for New Brunswick, with
all of these people leaving the province and the cutbacks in
education transfers? Our francophone schools are being shut down as
well. Two things are happening: people are leaving and schools are
shutting down. Could you predict the future, in New Brunswick, for
the years that lie ahead?
Mr. Charles Castonguay: In New Brunswick, Statistics Canada
said nothing about one aspect in particular when the 1996 census
data was released. I think it was the first time in the history of
the Acadian people, since Acadia was founded in 1608, that the
number of francophones in New Brunswick began to drop slightly; for
the first time in four centuries of history. How can a statistical
agency that claims to be interested in the linguistic phenomenon
remain silent about something that is so significant? I ask you
I think that this is the start of a decline. Your numbers in
New Brunswick are on the decline. This is unavoidable given an
intergenerational deficit of about 28%. There are 28% fewer
children than young adults. The way things are going, with each
generation, the population will drop by 25%. That means a decrease
in absolute numbers. This means that schools will shut down.
I don't know if the problem of migration is really as big as
we think it is, because Statistics Canada has just released data on
the migration between provinces over the past five years, from 1991
to 1996. Offhand, I think that the francophone population in
New Brunswick decreased by 500 individuals, in net figures. Some
people left, but others came to the province. Some Acadians go to
Montreal, or Toronto, or somewhere else to look for jobs and they
come back home later on, depending on the circumstances, on jobs
that are perhaps opening up elsewhere in New Brunswick, in the
Acadian Peninsula, or in the forestry sector, in the Madawaska
Valley, I don't know.
But the two migratory trends are almost equal. There are no
very significant losses attributed to migration, but they are hard
to take from the linguistic point of view. Anglicization is not as
high there as it is elsewhere. And there's even some good news,
because a researcher demonstrated scientifically that the
anglicization rate of francophones in New Brunswick has dropped
slightly over the past 25 years. The name of this researcher is
Charles Castonguay. Statistics Canada did not show this. Sometimes,
when there's a glimmer of light, a good piece of news, I want to be
the first to point it out and make people aware of it, and I did
this in Moncton, a year ago. I gave a conference in August, during
my vacation, to try to spread the good news.
And so, at least the anglicization rate is not increasing in
New Brunswick. It even appears to be going down slightly. This is
no mean thing. Why has it worked? We could extract an answer from
this data for Senator Rivest. In New Brunswick, francophones are
concentrated. New Brunswick has a law recognizing two official
languages, but there's more. The province also has a law that
recognizes the equality of the English and French language
communities. That is almost tantamount to recognizing the Acadian
New Brunswick's Acadians have received more from their
government, and now this is in the Canadian Charter. To a certain
extent, Acadians were recognized as a people, as a community, as a
collective identity. Quebec and French Canada have never managed to
do this. This is really, in my opinion, a Canadian curiosity.
Perhaps this explains the situation a bit. Perhaps you, the
Acadians of New Brunswick, are more determined. I don't know what
it is. However, you did manage to wrest this from Mr. McKenna and
Senator Jean-Claude Rivest: Because Acadians are not as
dangerous as Quebeckers.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: It's an interesting phenomenon. It
would be great if we were able to do as much for other francophone
minorities outside Quebec: recognize their existence as a community
and not simply as people who speak French or English.
A disembodied Official Languages Act is doomed to failure. A
language is not spoken in a vacuum, just like that. It expresses an
identity, it expresses a desire to live as a community. It's
anything you want. It has to be attached to a culture, to an
identity, and we must acknowledge this specific culture and
identity. Canada has yet to do this for French Canada as a whole,
but hats off to the Acadians.
So everything is not all bleak in New Brunswick. Perhaps even
the anglophone population of New Brunswick... Their reproduction
rate is not bad: 90%, as I said in my presentation. A little bit of
imagination and perhaps a bit of anglicization and that will be it.
It will continue to increase.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you
very much. Sorry, that's it.
Mr. Mark Muise, please.
Mr. Mark Muise: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Mr. Castonguay, in your presentation, you referred to some
statistics pertaining to the province of New Brunswick. I'm sure
that you are aware of the fact that there are also Acadians in the
province of Nova Scotia. I would like you to provide us with a few
statistics about these people. I recognize that New Brunswick has
two official languages and that we, in Nova Scotia, have only one.
But I would be curious to know the statistics. Thank you.
Mr. Charles Castonguay: On page 2 of my brief, you will find
what we might call bad news. Right now, the francophone population,
the population whose mother tongue is French, is reproducing at a
rate of 45%. There is a 55% deficit. There are less than half the
number of children as there are young adults.
In other words, usually the age pyramid is in the shape of a
pyramid. However, in Nova Scotia, the age pyramid for francophones
is like this: the base if half as broad as the middle. That means
that the number of people is in decline. A deficit of this
magnitude is dramatic. It's inescapable.
Mr. Lachapelle, once again...
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Ladies
and gentlemen, that's the 15-minute bell. As much as
we'd like to thank you all—I'm sorry to cut you
short, Mr. Muise. If you had come earlier, you would
have replaced the Liberal from Quebec whose name is
“Senator”, but you weren't here on time so the
Mr. Mark Muise: Madam Chairman, with all due
respect, this is my third committee meeting today and
I'm bouncing between three different things. If you
think it's appropriate, I think my comments are also.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Okay.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank you
Professor Torczyner, if you have a final, one-minute
statement, you may make it.
Prof. Tim Torczyner: It's very hard for me to make
a statement in one minute.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): I know
that. Meet the challenge.
Prof. Tim Torczyner: I'll try.
As I reflect a bit on the discussion here, I think
there are three central components to identity. One is
language, the other is religion, and the third is
homelands. When we did a study of how those three
reinforce identity, we found that all three are
important. Groups that have high degrees of
homogeneity on language, religion, and a sense of
homelands have higher rates of identity. Groups that
are diverse in those three have a lower rate, if that's
helpful in the context of this discussion. I think
it's true not just for the two major groups in Canada
but for all the other groups and how they fit along
That's how I would conclude.
The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you
This meeting is adjourned.