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Publications - April 28, 1998
 

STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE ON OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

COMITÉ MIXTE PERMANENT DES LANGUES OFFICIELLES

EVIDENCE

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, April 28, 1998

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[English]

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 4.15 p.m.

Welcome, Professor Castonguay. Welcome, Professor Torczyner. We're looking forward to hearing your presentations.

[Translation]

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 there.

Professor Castonguay, would you please proceed?

[English]

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.

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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 right now.

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 in sight.

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 cases.

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 problem.

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, of course.

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.

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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 period.

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.

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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 assimilation.

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 matter.

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 language.

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 face.”

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 extremely unfortunate.

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 population? These questions, of course, are of vital interest to Canada as well concerning its own population.

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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, and reads:

    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 incoherent.

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 mother tongue.

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 your province.

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 schooling.

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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 tongue. 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 understand it.

The last point concerns the illusion that French in some way, shape or form is progressing in Canada. That illusion—

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 second language

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 something else.

Just to bring that point home, my last point—

The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): You've now been speaking for 30 minutes. I think it's time to stop.

Prof. Charles Castonguay: May I make one last point?

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 conversation?

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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 test.

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.

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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 religiously.

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 definition used.

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 useful.

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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 government.

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 groups.”

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 Canadian community.

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 Castonguay.

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.

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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 same thing.

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 following.

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 level.

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 1971.

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 1971.

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 factor.

• 1635

Thank you very much for your presentations, both of you.

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 population.

You obviously don't live in Richmond or Vancouver, British Columbia. There is a concern of declining anglophone populations because of immigration from Asia.

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 again. 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 government efforts for over 30 years haven't worked. As a matter of fact, the situation is even worse.

• 1640

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 questions.

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 are.

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 absolute numbers.

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 themselves American.

• 1645

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 “American”.

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 Canadian population.

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 like that.

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 very much.

[Translation]

Mr. Plamondon.

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 be asked?

• 1650

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 questions.

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 French.

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 the statistics.

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.

• 1655

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 France.

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.

[English]

It would be the first language in childhood, basically,

[Translation]

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 home.

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 something else?

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 allophones.

The Joint Chair (Hon. Sheila Finestone): Thank you. It's now the Liberals' turn.

• 1700

Everything depends on what part of Canada you come from.

[English]

Have a fight between the two of you. One of you please go, either Liberal or Liberal Quebec.

[Translation]

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 student.

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 downward trend.

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 important factor.

• 1705

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 francophone.

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 country.

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 Canada."

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 practical.

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.

[English]

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 centuries.

[Translation]

Pardon me. For two centuries, French Canada has constantly worried about disappearing and so on. This fear absolutely must be dissipated.

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

[English]

on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races.

[Translation]

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 research.

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.

• 1710

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

[English]

“Why Hide the Facts: The Federalist Approach to the Language Crisis in Canada”.

[Translation]

I could write it again today with infinitely more examples and illustrations of

[English]

hiding the facts and the federalist approach

[Translation]

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 finish?

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.

[English]

The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you very much.

Senator Rivest.

[Translation]

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 bilingual?

Mr. Charles Castonguay: Quebec would be as French as it wanted to be.

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 Quebec?

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.

• 1715

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 assimilated.

Mr. Charles Castonguay: To that extent, their numbers ave dwindled.

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 up?

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.

• 1720

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 second language.

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 this question.

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.

• 1725

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 people.

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 Mr. Mulroney.

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.

[English]

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.

[Translation]

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...

[English]

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 Conservative—

• 1730

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 both.

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 those dimensions.

That's how I would conclude.

The Joint Chair (Mrs. Sheila Finestone): Thank you very much.

This meeting is adjourned.

ParlVU