STANDING JOINT COMMITTEE ON
COMITÉ MIXTE PERMANENT DES
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, May 30, 2000
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré (Timiskaming—Cochrane,
Lib.)): Good afternoon. I would like to welcome all our witnesses,
senators and members of Parliament to today's meeting.
In accordance with its terms of reference under Standing Order
108(4)(b), the committee is resuming its study of the application
of Chapter VII of the Official Languages Act.
We have quite a few witnesses today. We want to give
everybody a chance to make their presentations and give
members of Parliament and senators a chance to ask
We will be quite strict in our time allocation. We have asked
the witnesses, MPs and senators to keep their comments to about
seven to ten minutes. Normally, people have up to ten minutes, but
today, depending on the number of members, we may try to reduce the
time to seven or eight minutes in order to give everyone an
opportunity to ask questions.
Our witness today is the Honourable Ron Duhamel, the Secretary
of State for Western Economic Diversification and the Francophonie.
I would invite Mr. Duhamel to proceed with his presentation.
Hon. Ronald J. Duhamel (Secretary of State (Western
Diversification Canada) (Francophonie), Lib.): Thank you. Good
With me this afternoon are project officers Marcel Préville
and Guy Brunet.
I am very pleased to be here today, not only as a member of
Parliament, but especially as Secretary of State for Western
Economic Diversification and the Minister responsible for La
Francophonie. I'm also very pleased to be here as a francophone
member of Parliament from Western Canada.
I'm very interested in your committee's work, and I am very
pleased at the attention you are devoting to the implementation of
Sections 41 and 42 of Part VII of the Official Languages Act which,
in my view, is especially important for minorities.
It is with a great deal of pleasure that I will
outline to you briefly the efforts made and the results
obtained by the Department of Western Economic
Diversification on our official languages obligation.
When Cabinet decided in December 1994 to include an
accountability framework in the implementation of Section 41, the
implementation process truly began to gain some noticeable
momentum. More recently, progress has been accelerated by a series
of milestone events, such as: recent legal decisions, and Senator
Simard's report entitled Bridging the Gap: From Oblivion to the
Rule of Law.
In his report, Senator Simard noted, and I'm
...the exemplary leadership of the Department
of Western Economic Diversification, which has come to
understand the extent of its responsibilities for the
economic development of the [francophone] communities in
the Canadian West, particularly over the past two
I continue his quote:
The Department has taken the necessary steps to
determine the communities' actual needs, which has led
it to opt for an integrated rather than a segmented
approach to economic development.
Senator Simard goes on to say:
The Department has managed to introduce this program
through the reallocation of its existing financial
resources, without any additional government funding.
This is a perfect example for other institutions and
for the provincial governments, which contend that they
cannot carry out their responsibilities without receiving
He then recommended that WD's approach serve as a model
for other federal government organizations, including
the approach to transforming the department's
Ladies and gentlemen, you should know that I undertook
this mission not just because of sections 41 and 42, but
because I believe that economic development and
community development can be done in French, and in so
doing, you strengthen the minority community, you
strengthen its identity, you increase its pride and its
sense of belonging.
Our approach to achieving the intent of section 41 is
quite simple, actually. We began with three
we engaged in meaningful dialogue with Western Canada's francophone
communities; we jointly identified with them the needs in terms of
economic and community development; we then adopted a strategy. I
want to quote it, because I think it is very important.
The strategy has an underlying principle, which is to
provide the minority official language communities in
the west with a means for them to assume responsibility
for their economic and community development.
There are four “pillars” that support this strategy: a francophone
community economic development organization in each western
province; access to capital; development of the tourism sector; and
We have determined, colleagues, that it was not
cost effective nor feasible to have our service
delivery partners, such as the Community Futures
Development Corporations, acquire the means necessary
to be able to deliver services in French or to deliver
them in a timely manner to francophone entrepreneurs
and small and medium-sized enterprises. A major
consideration, of course, was the fact that
the francophone communities are widely dispersed
throughout their respective provinces in the west.
Consequently, WD worked with western francophone communities
to establish four province-wide economic and community economic
organizations. There is now an effective, autonomous francophone
economic development organization in each of the four western
provinces, as well as a community development organization.
WD is providing multi-year core funding to all four
organizations, totalling almost $2.5 million over a
three-year period ending March 31, 2001. To address
the issue of access to capital, WD is setting up a
micro-loans fund in each western province for the
francophone business community.
Under this approach, my department and each of the
four francophone economic and community development
organizations will conclude an agreement with a
financial institution for the provision of this
service. My department's investment could be in the
$400,000 to $500,000 range in each province, but this will
lever up to $2 million in each province.
The first of these funds was set up in Saskatchewan and was
launched this past April 20. Discussions are underway in the other
three provinces which will lead to agreements shortly.
The third pillar is the tourism sector. Last year, my
department approved a contribution of $558,000 for three years for
the establishment and operations of the Conseil touristique
francophone de l'Ouest (CTFO), a joint initiative of the four
francophone economic development organizations, to develop tourism
corridors amongst francophone communities across the West.
Now, this combined pan-western tourism corridor will
eventually be linked to the long-term vision of a
route de la francophonie.
Last, we have entrepreneurship. WD actively supports
various events or projects that promote
entrepreneurship, and I will just mention them briefly
because of lack of time.
There are the Forums économiques nationaux pour les gens
d'affaires francophones and the Mondial des Amériques, which has
already been held here, to demonstrate our goods and services. My
department supported 20 young francophone participants from Western
Canada. The Mondial de l'entrepreneuriat jeunesse will hold its
third event in Ottawa this fall and is expecting attendance from 35
countries. Here again, WD will assist at least 30 young francophone
entrepreneurs from Western Canada. My department also contributed
to the Réseau francophone d'Amérique of the Alliance des radios
communautaires du Canada. This national satellite network links 18
francophone and Acadian community radio stations across Canada.
There are many other initiatives, but I would like to conclude my
In addition to all of this, WD plays an active role
in the activities of the National Committee for
Canadian Francophonie Human Resources Development
as well as the activities
of the committee's four sectorial round tables on tourism,
rural development, the knowledge-based economy, and the
inclusion of young people in economic development.
I should emphasize that my department does not work in
isolation. The development I just outlined for you more often than
not involves interdepartmental co-operation. In this regard I must
point out the co-operation of our colleagues at Canadian Heritage,
Human Resources Development Canada and Treasury Board, to name but
Francophone economic development organizations are
also working with provincial and municipal governments
to foster the economic development of francophone
enterprises. All in all, colleagues, we make real the
words “working together”.
At the moment, we're planning for the future. In co-operation
with our partners. We intend to devise a long-term, rather than a
short-term, plan, one that will allow the Western Canadian
communities to develop as such and to develop economically.
I will stop here. I would just like to say that we think that
we have met the objectives of the Official Languages Act to a
significant extent. Of course, much remains to be done, but we
intend to do it together. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much,
Minister. We will hear from all the witnesses before asking members
of Parliament and senators to ask their questions. Do you have a
point of order, Mr. Plamondon, or would you like to wait?
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ):
I will wait.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Fine. We will now
move on to our next witness. He is the Deputy Minister of the
Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec,
Mr. André Gladu, who has with him Mr. Jocelyn Jacques and
Mr. Pierre Bordeleau. I will now turn the floor over to Mr. Gladu.
Mr. André Gladu (Deputy Minister, Economic Development Agency
of Canada for the Regions of Quebec): Thank you very much.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ontario, Lib.): I would like to
raise a point of order.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Yes, Mr. Gauthier.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: All members of Parliament and
senators are very busy these days. From the documents distributed
today, I see we have four witnesses. The research document for the
committee was distributed today. In any case, it reached my office
today. It was written on May 25. Why can we not get the documents
a few days ahead of time so that we can read them and ask our
witnesses intelligent questions? At one point, we got a whole
series of documents. I have considerable difficulty, because of my
hearing problem. I cannot read and listen. I hear you through a
computer. It is very frustrating, Minister. So I would ask you to
shorten your remarks so that we have more time to ask you
questions. Otherwise, it will be 5 p.m., and we will all go home.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): You raise a very
important point, Mr. Gauthier. As you know, we often have
translation problems. We cannot distribute documents to committee
members if there is no translation. I am not trying to make excuses
for the committee, but these things do happen, and our clerk has
noted your concern. In future, we will try to distribute documents
as soon as possible.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: I chaired this committee for a
number of years, and I am familiar with the problem. It is not
really a translation problem. It is a problem of document
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): I have noted your
comment, and we will do our best in future, Mr. Gauthier.
Mr. André Gladu: Thank you very much. I am pleased to have
this first opportunity to report on the way Canada Economic
Development fulfils its responsibilities and implements section 41
of the Act.
I can assure you from the outset that the staff at our
head office and other offices concerned are very well
aware of our commitments regarding section 41 of the
act. We all understand that fulfilling our mandate
in its entirety, to promote regional economic
development and support the efforts of Quebec's small
and medium-sized businesses, is intimately linked to
respecting that commitment.
Of the Canada Economic Development's 13 regional
offices, 11 of them are required to provide bilingual
services and meet that requirement very well. Indeed,
a survey of 923 small and medium-sized businesses
conducted at the end of the fiscal years 1998 and 1999
found that 84% of the 71 English-speaking respondents
believed it was easy to obtain service in English.
Over 75% of them also said that the quality of
in-person English service was excellent. Overall, I think
we have good reason to be proud of the
results it has achieved with respect to section 7 of
the Official Languages Act.
Our performance bears witness to the path we've
followed in recent years. Here I would like to mention
steps we've taken to establish stronger relations with
organizations representing minority language
communities, as well as the mechanisms that have been
developed and put in place to raise awareness and a
sense of responsibility among Canada Economic
Allow me to note on this subject that more than a year ago,
Canada Economic Development adopted a statement of principle to
acknowledge the Agency's commitments in the application of Part VII
of the Act. This statement of principle is posted in our regional
In this statement, Canada Economic Development vows to develop
an early integrated action plan. It also commits itself to
implementing special measures in major designated regions such as
Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Outaouais, the Greater Montreal Area, the
Eastern Townships (Estrie), the Gaspé Region and the North Shore.
Finally, it proposes to establish better communication between
English communities spokesgroups and Canada Economic Development's
I would now like to take my few remaining minutes to
review with you some of the initiatives we've
introduced in the wake of our action plan for fiscal
It should be noted that for each of the past three
years, CED, or Canada Economic Development, organized a
series of small business conferences, the Info-Fairs,
which attracted a significant number of
English-speaking participants. These were held in
Sherbrooke and Montreal in 1997; in Rouyn-Noranda,
Laval, and Hull in 1998; and in Seven Islands and
Valleyfield in 1999. English-speaking participants
from those regions were thus given the opportunity to
acquaint themselves with the range of programs and
services the Government of Canada offers to existing
and potential entrepreneurs.
In that spirit, an information tour was conducted by
our personnel in the Lower North Shore in the winter of
2000. This region, as you well know, has been very
severely affected by the decline in groundfish stocks.
The purpose of the tour was to provide information on
Canada Economic Development programs and services to
as many citizens as possible in this largely
English-speaking region, in order to bring forward
initiatives to diversify the region's economy. In
fact, since the tour, the regional office in Seven
Islands has already received two applications for
financial assistance, one of them related to marine
In the metropolitan Montreal area, Canada Economic Development
has contributed—and will continue to do so in the coming years—to
stimulating youth entrepreneurship within the anglophone community.
In 1999-2000, it supported the activities of the Youth Employment
Services with a final contribution of $100,000. Our Agency intends
to forge a long-term service partnership with this organization,
which appeals to a significant clientele in the Greater Montreal
region and has an entrepreneurial mandate consistent with our
In the Eastern Townships, a similar initiative for which we
also provided support was geared towards facilitating access to the
labour market for young anglophones. Established by Jobs Links, an
organization devoted to finding employment for young anglophones,
the Jobs in Focus program is a job forum for members of the Eastern
Townships' English-speaking community. For this event, Job Links
joined forces with Bishop's University, the Townshippers'
Association and the daily newspaper The Record, a partnership that
is eloquent testimony of the vitality of the anglophone community
in the Eastern Townships.
In the Gaspé and Magdalen Islands, since 1994, our Agency has
directly contributed on several occasions, with the Committee for
Anglophone Social Action (CASA), to the development and promotion
of the Baie-de-Cascapédia Loyalist Village. The goal of the CASA's
tourism project is to demonstrate the lifestyle of the English-speaking
community in the Gaspé at the turn of the 20th century, as
well as its contribution to the colonization and development of the
In the Outaouais, while the English-speaking community
represents some 25% of the population, approximately 30% of the
project originated from representatives of the English-speaking
Finally, to wrap up this tour of Quebec, I would like to
mention an initiative that was carried out in the Northern Quebec
region. With the assistance of Canada Economic Development,
Mistissini Geological Resources organized a mining conference in
Mistissini this past August 24 through 27. This event, which took
place in English, was intended primarily to introduce young Cree to
career opportunities in mining and to encourage them to consider
such a possibility.
These projects are but a few examples of the many
initiatives put forward by Canada Economic Development
staff or supported financially or otherwise by the
agency. A number of projects that are currently
underway and of which I did not make mention here today
will come to fruition during the course of the 2000-01
fiscal year. We will proceed with the normal ongoing
assessments to determine the value of our contribution.
I can also assure you that we intend to carefully review a
report tabled last week by anglophone communities and associations,
which, in partnership with Human Resources Development Canada, has
assessed all the needs of Quebec's English-speaking community. If
you wish, we can come back to this aspect of our work during the
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much,
I would now like to ask Mr. Paul LeBlanc, the Vice-President,
Policy and Programs at the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, to
make his presentation.
Mr. Paul J. LeBlanc (Vice-President, Policy and Programs,
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency): Honourable Committee
members, please allow me first of all to thank you for your
invitation to appear before you today.
In order to better inform you on the initiatives taken by ACOA
in implementing Section 41 of the Official Languages Act, I would
like to set out our organization's mandate along with our vision in
respect of this provision. I would then like to present a few of
our initiatives within the context of our mandate and strategic
With the mandate of increasing the opportunity for economic
development in Atlantic Canada and, more particularly, of enhancing
the growth of earned incomes and employment opportunities in that
region, ACOA seeks to support and promote new opportunities for
economic development in Atlantic Canada, with particular emphasis
on small- and medium-sized enterprises.
ACOA pursues this mandate through a set of strategic
priorities. These are: Atlantic economic policy development;
advocacy of Atlantic interests in national policy development, and
co-ordination of federal economic activity in the region; promotion
of international trade, foreign investment and tourism; innovation,
technology and research and development; entrepreneurship and
skills development; rural and community economic development; and
access to investment capital and information for SMEs.
As for Section 41, we feel that in some way it embodies the
spirit of the Official Languages Act. Section 41 requires more than
the provision of service to the public in the official language of
its choice. It sets out the attitude and approach that federal
institutions must adopt with respect to their official language
communities. Section 41 asks federal institutions to go one step
further and to be particularly mindful of enhancing, developing and
fostering the francophone communities in our regions.
ACOA has the task of serving as an advocate for Atlantic
Canada's interests, priorities and concerns in federal economic
government policy-making, program design and project selection. In
pursuit of this role, ACOA continues to focus particularly on the
Acadian and francophone communities. The Agency has developed
partnerships with organizations such as the Canadian Institute for
Research on Regional Development, at Moncton University, to
undertake policy development studies for francophone communities,
including studies in such sectors as forestry, fisheries, tourism
Attention should also be drawn to the significant role played
by ACOA at the Francophone Summit in the areas of co-ordination,
support and promotion of activities surrounding the Summit. The
Summit was a unique opportunity to promote the advantages of
Atlantic Canadian business before an international audience. A
large number of Acadian and francophone businesses from Atlantic
Canada participated in the various activities.
An illustration of our recognition of the francophone presence
in Atlantic Canada is our continuing participation on the National
Committee for Francophone Human Resources Development. We will
shortly be meeting with Atlantic Canadian co-ordinating groups on
economic development and employability to exchange on their
priorities and to gain a better appreciation of their needs.
The co-ordinating groups act in concert with economic
development groups involved in their regions, and liaise with the
National Committee for Francophone Resource Development.
In the area of international trade, investment and tourism,
the Agency assisted in the development of tourism-related products
in francophone communities in our region. We have invested in
Acadian and francophone tourism projects, including the development
of the Village historique de Pubnico and the Parc historique
national de Grand-Pré, in Nova Scotia, as well as the Village
historique acadien in New Brunswick.
We have also actively participated in the international
marketing of these and other francophone community tourism
As for innovation and technology, ACOA seeks to
strengthen the region's innovation and technology
capacity. To accomplish this, the agency has partnered
with organizations such as
Moncton University's Parc scientifique, the community colleges,
and others. The agency has helped connect schools in
Atlantic Canada to the Internet, including francophone
schools. ACOA lent its assistance to the organization
of the International Conference on Smart Communities, a
forum to further the review of information technology
and related smart applications thereof. ACOA also
provides assistance towards the Acadie-Sherbrooke
International Francophone Health Sciences Conference, an event
emphasizing the use of information technology in health
In the area of entrepreneurship and skills
development, ACOA has worked with the Atlantic
Provinces Education Foundation since 1993 to instil
notions of entrepreneurship and enterprising values in
schools throughout the Atlantic, and it lent assistance
Assemblée des aînées et aînés francophones du Canada
for a project through which retired francophone
entrepreneurs shared their experiences with the
Publications in the area of entrepreneurship,
published or financed by ACOA, emphasize the spirit of
enterprise and the ways of starting one's own business.
ACOA has also been instrumental in the development of
a francophone television series, Temps d'affaires,
promoting entrepreneurship. This series is broadcast
nationally and internationally.
Within the framework of its community economic development
program, ACOA has the mandate to help the communities plan and
implement their vision to create long-term, self-sustaining
economic activity. ACOA works in partnership with community
business development corporations, the CBDCs, supporting
counselling and financial services the CBDCs provide to SMEs in
rural communities. ACOA ensures that francophone SMEs receive
services from the CBDCs.
Finally, in terms of access to capital and information, the
Business Development Program targets the start-up, expansion and
modernization of small- and medium-sized businesses. Our network of
service outlets throughout the region, in particular that of the
Canada Business Services Centres, allows SMEs direct access to the
expertise of ACOA's officers to facilitate the development and
implementation of their plans.
ACOA looks to the future with optimism and determination. The
agency's 2000-2002 section 41 Action Plan will be tabled in
Parliament through Canadian Heritage at the end of June 2000. We
intend to pursue our leadership role in economic development, more
particularly within the Atlantic francophone community.
Owing to its network of development officers and their close
working relationship with SMEs and Atlantic francophone development
organisations, ACOA intends to pursue its efforts in partnering,
collaboration and networking so as to maximize the potential for
economic development in the region's francophone and Acadian
Thank you, honourable committee members. I would now be
pleased to answer your questions.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you, Mr.
Now, from Industry Canada, we invite Ms. Brigitte
Hohn, executive director for the Ontario region.
Ms. Brigitte Hohn (Executive Director, Ontario Region,
Industry Canada): I'm very happy to be here today, to speak on
Industry Canada's activities in the Ontario region designed to meet
the needs of francophones in Southern Ontario.
As you no doubt know, southern Ontario has no regional agency.
That is why Industry Canada's Regional Ontario Office has
implemented a variety of activities that would normally be
established by a regional agency. Today, I have with me Mr.
David Dallimore, of the Regional Ontario Office Planning, Analysis
and Public Affairs Section.
We are trying to improve our monitoring of francophone
businesses in Ontario, in all sectors. Last year, we decided to
carry out an independent study to assess the status of francophone
businesses in southern Ontario, particularly in four areas: the
Canada-Ontario Business Services Centre, which provides businesses
with information on federal, provincial and municipal programs;
access to export information; the Community Access Program, which
provides communities with Internet access; and the Community
Development Assistance Program.
Eight focus groups were conducted, and several
specific recommendations emerged for improving service
to francophones in these programs. An action plan was
then developed and is being implemented, with two major
results. First, we are giving more attention to
francophone outreach in all our programs, based on the
recommendations of the study. Secondly, we are
reaching more francophone clients through increased
the Chambre économique de l'Ontario and the Joint Committee. Our
work with the Chambre économique makes it possible for us to
establish important ties with chambers of commerce, business
associations and francophone colleges. The partnership also enabled
us to draw almost 300 participants to a completely francophone
information fair held in Casselman last year.
Another initiative with the Chambre is the
organization of a delegation of francophone
entrepreneurs to Europe planned for later this year.
Because trade offers an opportunity for businesses to
prosper, we've been actively promoting trade in the
francophone business community. Our international
trade centre has reached out to clients at
several francophone events in the past year that have
attracted over 500 participants. The international
trade centre is also expanding its consulting services
in French. Last year, we offered four seminars on trade
specifically for francophone businesses. As well,
francophone export development advisers have been
recruited to work in Hawkesbury and Cornwall, and
others are planned in the Ottawa region.
Industry Canada is committed to making Canada the most
connected country in the world. The community access
program is providing Internet access to
communities in rural and urban areas. The number of
rural francophone community access sites has increased
to a current total of 86, with more to come. Workshops
are being offered in French to encourage francophone
communities to apply for community access sites. We
are also encouraging francophone groups in urban areas
to apply for local CAP sites, and all francophone
school boards have been contacted and encouraged to
apply. We have also recruited several francophone
members to the urban CAP program review committee.
In addition, last year there was another initiative to connect
francophone schools and libraries to the Internet. Last year, 260
computers and 35 printers were donated under the Computers for
L'Année de la Francophonie canadienne
marked a renewal in our long-term commitment to
serve French-speaking clients.
For example, we are making service to francophones an
integral part of the communication deliverables of all
our branches. This means that managers in all branches
are making a commitment with regard to their mandate to
implement section 41 of the Official
I would be pleased to answer your questions. Thank
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you, Ms. Hohn.
Our last, but of course not least, witness, is Ms.
Louise Paquette, Director General of FedNor.
Ms. Louise Paquette (Director General, FedNor): Thank you. I
am the Director General of FedNor, a federal initiative to promote
economic development in Northern Ontario. FedNor is a part of
Industry Canada, specifically a part of the Operations Sector.
As a francophone, I am extremely proud of francophone culture
and communities in Canada. Through their courage, determination and
solidarity, francophone communities have become rooted in our
region, which is mostly English-speaking.
Over the past four years, there have been many positive
changes at FedNor. The revitalization began with FedNor's renewal
in 1998. In 1999, FedNor's budget was increased, and a Secretary of
Today, I would like to highlight recent efforts in the
workplace and in services that make it possible for us to continue
providing service to minority francophone communities in the North.
First of all, I would like to outline the situation in
FedNor's population is roughly 825,000 people, of
which 26% in the northeast are francophone, which
represents about 150,000 people.
By contrast, in the northwest of northern Ontario,
only about 4% of the population is
French speaking, which is roughly 10,000 people.
I think it's also important to note that FedNor's
coverage area is about 88% of the province of Ontario,
which, as you can well appreciate, makes quite a
challenge with respect to transportation.
In order to provide better service to its target population,
which is so diverse and covers such a broad area, FedNor has
established a geographic delivery system. This means that
individual development officers are responsible for a given region
in Northern Ontario.
Four years ago, only 20% of FedNor employees were bilingual.
Today, over 50% of employees can speak both French and English. At
our head office in Sudbury, as much as 66% of our staff are
I was especially proud to accept, on behalf of FedNor, the
Official Languages Prize recently awarded by Industry Canada in
recognition of our work. Our success is largely the result of
partnerships, which have improved small business access to capital,
information and markets.
Now, I would like to tell you something more on our principal
partners. The Community Futures Development Corporations, already
mentioned by Mr. LeBlanc and the Honourable Mr. Duhamel, are a key
network, an essential tool through which we can implement our
programs. FedNor encourages CFDCs throughout the province to
provide services to minority communities whenever a region is
designated bilingual or whenever the minority is present in
sufficient numbers to warrant service in both official languages.
I'm proud to tell you that a task force on services and
official languages was established this year to determine what
would constitute fair and equitable delivery of service in Ontario.
To ensure that minority anglophone and francophone communities both
receive the CFDC services they need, the task force, made up of
CFDC, FedNor and Industry Canada representatives, will prepare a
directory of current services and available resources, and suggest
improvements and assessment strategies.
FedNor also believes that it is people in the region and the
municipalities who should determine business and economic
development priorities. After all, they are in the best position to
do it. For example, we are actively involved in the annual
convention of the Francophone Association of Municipalities of
Ontario. We also play an active role in Northern Ontario
communities, and have invested a great deal of energy in developing
partnerships and listening to a variety of sectors.
By working closely with the regions and municipalities, FedNor
helps consolidate the strengths of a regional economy, promote job
creation, and implement long-term community economic development
FedNor also recognizes that, by working with financial
institutions, educational institutions and community and sector-based
associations, it also benefits from the strengths of the
regional economy and community leaders.
One indispensable financial partner has been the network of
credit unions. In 1999, FedNor signed an agreement with the
Mouvement des caisses Desjardins to improve access to capital and
promote the growth and development of francophone SMEs. The
agreement will significantly improve access to funding for
businesses, particularly for those requiring higher-risk loans. The
loan loss reserve will be particularly helpful to francophone
businesses in small communities.
FedNor has also worked with the Business Development Bank of
Canada to set up NEXPRO, which provides group workshops and
individual, on-site counselling for exporters.
The Collège Boréal is another important partner in enhancing
Francophone business initiatives in the North. Here are some of the
projects in which we have been involved.
We supported the establishment of a francophone business group
in Norther Ontario, in addition to sponsoring a trip to Moncton to
share good business practices with a community that looked a lot
like the nickel capital.
Another initiative is the Entrepreneurship On-Line Project, a
pilot project that provides access to on-line training for adults,
and increases the number of innovative learning opportunities to
adult francophones in Northern Ontario who wish to start up a
In co-operation with the Association des maisons de commerce
du Québec and the Collège Boréal, we provided two workshops on
In 1999, FedNor supported Mission France, an initiative to
assess potential economic development strategy transfers in the
greater Sudbury area.
Entrepreneurship development is founded on the inspiration and
talents of young people in the North. Many initiatives, including
a new FedNor program, ensure that young people can be drawn into
the process of economic development. I will mention only two such
projects. One is the Mondial de l'entrepreneuriat jeunesse, which
I have already mentioned: 40 students from secondary school in
Northern Ontario took part in the workshops.
I must also mention FedNor's youth internship program.
Through this program we've invested about $4.8 million
to help 192 interns across northern Ontario, and our
recent survey would suggest that 96% of these young
people are staying in northern Ontario.
The objective of the program, which was launched as a
pilot, was to try to keep some of our young people in
the north, because we have a serious exodus of our
young people to places like Ottawa—which you can
I also mentioned partnerships with community and sector-based
associations. I would like to read you an excerpt from a letter by
Linda Savard, Director of the Chambre économique de l'Ontario:
I would like to thank FedNor very warmly for its participation in
the Gala de la francophonie. Your investment helped us ensure the
The first gala was an opportunity to strengthen French
Ontario's economic contribution and to recognize demonstrated
excellence among francophone entrepreneurs.
FedNor also supported the Association des francophones du
nord-ouest de l'Ontario, in their development of a business plan to
establish a francophone community centre in Thunder Bay.
During a conference organized by the Conseil de la coopération
de l'Ontario and the Union culturelle des Franco-Ontariennes, in
partnership with FedNor, we discussed common approaches and
solutions that would enable francophone communities to participate
fully in economic development activities.
FedNor also seized the opportunity to recognize the
francophone contribution to economic growth, and to further
encourage the development and enhancement of French-speaking
minorities by highlighting the Année de la Francophonie.
We supported a number of projects as part of Année de la
Francophonie canadienne activities, including strategic hearings in
five Northern Ontario regions: Timmins, Thunder Bay, North Bay,
Kapuskasing and New Liskeard. The hearings represented the first
step in a strategic planning process by the community and for the
The list of our francophone partners is very long, and
includes the Carrefour francophone in Sudbury, Centre culturel de
Timmins, Fédération des femmes canadiennes-françaises de l'Ontario,
Conseil des arts de Hearst, Club d'âge d'or de la Vallée,
Université Laurentienne and Direction Jeunesse, to name but a few.
A knowledge of both official languages is something that
enriches all Canadians. It goes without saying that, from a purely
economic standpoint, bilingualism in Northern Ontario opens the
door to many business opportunities.
Thank you. I would be pleased to answer your questions.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you, Ms.
Paquette. May I ask whether you have provided the committee clerk
with a copy of your remarks?
Ms. Louise Paquette: No, I have not.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): I would like to ask
you to do so, because then I can distribute copies of your remarks
in both official languages to all committee members.
Traditionally, an official opposition member asks the first
question. Since there are none here, however, the first question
will be from Mr. Plamondon.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: I don't know where to start. I have a
great many questions, because the topics you have touched on are
extremely broad. Many people do not understand how these agencies
work. We are not used to working with agencies that focus on
specific regions and are never mentioned in current event contexts,
if you see what I mean.
I remember that there were discussions at some point about
creating a virtual CFDC to serve all anglophones in Quebec. Was
such a CFDC set up or is it still in the planning stages?
Mr. André Gladu: It is still in the planning stages. There is
also a similar project to create a CFDC for francophones across
Last week the first Canada-wide meeting of CFDCs was held; it
was attended by representatives of some 250 CFDCs. I am expecting
that initiative to become a reality over the coming year, but I
must admit that at this point it is not very far along.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Do the Industry Canada representatives
plan to set up a CFDC for francophones in Ontario?
Ms. Louise Paquette: We will not have a CFDC for francophones
only, since in Northern Ontario, the population we serve consists
of both anglophones and francophones. The contracts stipulate that
CFDCs must meet the needs of the community. So I can say that we do
not plan to create a CFDC for Ontario francophones.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Why would a CFDC in Ontario need to meet
the needs of both communities, whereas in Quebec it can target the
needs of anglophones only? Is there not a contradiction in that?
Mr. André Gladu: No. It is important to understand at the
outset what CFDCs are.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: I know perfectly well what they are. You
said that one of your projects was to create a virtual CFDC for all
anglophones in Quebec, and I asked you whether you intended to
create one for francophones in Ontario. You answered that both
communities had to be served. Why would it be any different in
Mr. André Gladu: As we indicated in the agreement we concluded
with the CFDC Network, approximately 10 of the 54 CFDCs in Quebec
are required to offer services and documentation in both official
languages, since they serve regions where there is a significant
The CFDC Network has come up with the idea of creating a
virtual CFDC for all anglophone communities in Quebec because, in
some regions, the language skills of CFDC employees do not
necessarily meet the needs of the anglophone communities. After
all, in some regions served by the CFDCs, there are only a small
number of anglophones and the CFDC employees may not always be able
to meet their needs. In addition to these 10 or so CFDCs that
already provide bilingual services, the CFDC Network has decided to
set up this virtual CFDC to be able to respond to the needs of
anglophones in the approximately 40 other CFDCs.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: I admire your high-mindedness.
I will now come to you. I do not want to contradict you, but
you said that you were very proud of the fact that 50% of the staff
were able to serve the population in Northern Ontario in both
official languages. That percentage seems fine to me, but I presume
that if 50% of employees in Quebec's CFCDs were bilingual, you
would be up-in-arms and find that unacceptable for anglophones in
In your opinion, what proportion of Quebec's CFDC employees
are able to offer services in both official languages? I come from
a riding where 99.8% of the population is francophone, and the CFDC
offers services in both languages. The employees may not be
perfectly fluent in English, but they are able to provide these
services. I assume that the situation is the same across Quebec.
Mr. André Gladu: I am unable to answer your question, since
the CFDC Network is funded by us but not controlled by us. The
CFDCs do not represent the Economic Development Agency of Canada
for the regions of Quebec. All I can tell you is that the agreement
we have concluded with the CFDC network stipulates that about ten
of the CFDCs must be able to provide services in English. As for
the 44 or so other CFDCs, I could not tell you what proportion of
their employees are bilingual.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: May I continue my questioning, Mr.
Chairman? I have eight minutes, right?
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): You have five minutes
Mr. Louis Plamondon: There are not many of us in any case.
I will carry on with my questions because I am on this
Official Languages Committee and I am trying to find out if the
francophone minority in Ontario is as well served in Ontario as the
anglophone community in Quebec. That is the point of my comments.
Would it be accurate to say that there are 700,000 anglophones
Mr. André Gladu: According to the 1996 census, anglophones
account for 12% of the population.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: I am talking about anglophones and not
Mr. André Gladu: The 1996 census indicates that 12% of people
in Quebec are anglophones.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: So we are talking about 12% of
7.8 million people.
How many francophones are there in Ontario?
Ms. Louise Paquette: In the northeast, they account for 24% of
the population, so 150,000 people, and in the northwest, 4%, or
Mr. Louis Plamondon: How many francophones are there in
Ontario as a whole? Are there a million? Good, that is not so bad
in terms of development of the francophone population.
Now let us look at the effort that should be devoted to
providing the same services to francophone minorities in Ontario as
to anglophone minorities in Quebec, which are about the same size.
I listened to what you had to say today. I am pleased for
Quebec anglophones, since it would appear that your organizations
are much more concerned about providing good service to that
minority, which has historical rights that have always been
recognized in Quebec and that benefit from provincial policies in
the area of social services, health and education, from
kindergarten to university. That is fine and we all agree that that
is the way things should be. However, we should also agree that
that is how things should be for francophones in the rest of
What I find frustrating is that your organizations are telling
us that they fund these services, but that they do not administer
them. Well, that is the way it should be in Ontario as well. We
know what happens every time the federal government withdraws from
some jurisdiction or privatizes services. Take for example the Gens
de l'air at Air Canada. Before the airline was privatized, 15% of
the pilots were francophone and that has now fallen to 12%. That
was not very long ago.
If the federal government wants to help communities to develop
and if it provides funding without setting any conditions, the
result will be that services will be offered in both languages in
Quebec and only in English elsewhere in Canada, except where there
is a very high concentration of francophones, such as the
Minister's riding of Saint-Boniface and some areas of Northern
Ontario, although I have been told that less than 50% of the staff
were capable of answering people in the language of their choice.
Imagine that. When you want to help a community to develop and you
are not able to speak people's language, you are out of luck. There
are 50% there. That is far from 100%.
That is why I think that a lot of work needs to be done before
we can say that these services are administered in accordance with
the spirit of official languages, which is the idea that citizens
are provided with services in both languages.
I will not ask you to answer, since the type of response I am
looking for can only come from the Minister. Mr. Duhamel could
surely say something on this.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: Yes, he certainly could, and with a great
deal of enthusiasm.
I was born in Saint-Boniface quite a number of years ago. I
went back about 20 years ago as assistant deputy minister for
French-language education. At that time, things were not easy.
Franco-Manitobans have had difficulties throughout their history.
In all sincerity, I must say that the past 20 years has seen
increasing broad-mindedness among people in Saint-Boniface, in
Manitoba and throughout Western Canada. Take my community, for an
example. Twenty years ago, when I was assistant deputy minister for
French-language education, I had only a small office, which has
become much bigger. A good while back, this office took on
responsibility for providing services in French. We have our
French-language school board, our French cultural centre and, for
those who go to church, religious services in French. We have our
films, our radio, our television, etc.
In Manitoba, if you want to live in French you can. You really
have to want to and the desire has to be there, since the
francophone community is small, about 50,000 people out of
1 million. Although Saskatchewan is the same size, there are only
20,000 francophones and they are less concentrated, although their
situation has improved. In Alberta and British Columbia, there are
55,000 francophones. British Columbia has a French-language school
I am not trying to make you believe that there is no room for
improvement. On the contrary, a great deal needs to be done.
However, there have been great improvements. If memory serves,
Manitoba has just over 5,000 students in schools where the first
language is French. Over 17,000 young anglophones attend immersion
programs and are educated in French. So there is an interest among
A person who comes from a minority community, as was the case
for me being born in the West, learns very early on that it is
always necessary to fight. I do not mean this in a pejorative
sense, but we always need to try to make other people understand
that we require services that meet our linguistic and other needs.
My community is a very proud one, as are all the other
communities in Western Canada, the Atlantic provinces and the
francophone communities in Ontario. What is interesting in all that
is that all these communities are at different levels of
development. For example, I think that most people in the West
accept the fact that Manitoba has more in the way of
infrastructures in such areas as education than other provinces do.
We are continuing to make progress and, in my opinion, that is what
is important. I believe that most people feel that it is an asset
to speak more than one language and to speak Canada's two official
Mr. Louis Plamondon: That is where we disagree.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Louis Plamondon: That is where...
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): You have had nearly
15 minutes, and it is time now to give your colleagues an
opportunity to ask questions. We will come back to you right after.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Since this is the first time you have
been in the chair, I will give you a chance.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): You might be
interested to know, Mr. Plamondon, that there are over 400,000
anglophones and allophones in Ontario whose second language is
French. Given the popularity of immersion programs, people are
predicting that, in ten years or so, Ontario will have more
anglophones who can speak French than people whose mother tongue is
French. Although there are only 600,000 francophones, there are
nearly a million people in Ontario who speak French. That is a fact
that should not be overlooked.
I will now move to the Honourable Senator Jean-Robert
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: I am a bit on my own here
because in Ontario, Mr. Plamondon, there is no council or agency
for economic development or employability.
When Ms. Hohn speaks, it is on behalf of Industry Canada. She
is not speaking for one region, one group or one association. There
are not any in Ontario. There is FedNor in Northern Ontario, but it
is funded by Industry Canada and they are the ones who talk to us
about it today. Mr. Gladu represents the Economic Development
Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, but he reports to
Mr. Cauchon and to Mr. Duhamel.
Mr. Duhamel, I am very grateful to you. I would like to
congratulate you on what you have done for francophones. You know,
however, that in eastern, southern and western Ontario, there is
practically nothing in the way of economic development or
employability programs for our young people.
I am not complaining. We tried. I do not know what else to do.
We lack political and other resources. We are told that because we
are in Ontario we are rich. The francophone minority in Ontario is
not rich. In any case, it is not richer than the anglophone
minority in Quebec. You cannot make a comparison.
I have two questions. They will be very short. Minister, in
your organization in the West, what percentage of francophone
projects were accepted last year and this year? I am talking about
the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 fiscal years. If you do not have the
answer, please send it to me. Do you have an idea?
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: I can tell you honestly that I have no
idea. An agreement was reached with the community. It was provided
with a certain amount of money and told to make decisions on the
basis of those resources. So it was community people who decided.
Did I misunderstand you? I am sorry. They were given a certain
amount of money for their operations, for example, they said what
they wanted to do with it. So it would be very difficult for me to
answer your question, except if someone here has the numbers. We
are talking about 30, 40 or 50 initiatives.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: I want each agency to give me
its percentages for the past two years. We will see if there has
been any progress or not. Section 41 says that you do promotion. I
want to know if you have done any. In Quebec, I think around 12% of
your projects are for anglophones. I know the numbers. This is not
a question of ignorance. I know what I am saying, but I wanted to
get these statistics from all the agencies, in the West, the
Atlantic Region and for FedNor, if they have them.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: We will do that and I can say that yes,
there has been enormous progress. I will share that information
with you in a very short time.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: I am pleased to hear that. You
can assert, based on what you have said, that there has been
movement in the right direction.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: Yes. We have made huge progress in the
last two years. I mean that honestly and we will prove it to you,
black on white. We were able to make a lot of progress thanks to
the open-mindedness of certain people who shared our vision. Yes,
there has been a lot of progress.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: I believe you publish a small
booklet or annual report on the percentages. I have not received
it. Could you send me a copy?
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: It will be our pleasure to do so.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: Ms. Hohn, you talked about
Ontario as a whole. You spoke as if you were in charge of an
economic development and job program for Ontario. Do you work for
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: Yes, that's correct.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: In your presentation, you
highlighted the development of high-tech resources.
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: Yes, that's right.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: You work for Industry Canada.
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: Yes.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: You are a director general or
have a similar title. You work in a fairly senior capacity.
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: Yes.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: You have not been in charge of
the francophone file for a long time.
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: No, but we have nevertheless made a lot of
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: How long have you been in charge
of francophone affairs: one year or two? I had the impression that
a francophone living in Eastern or Western Canada who tried to get
help from Industry Canada in the area of high-tech development, had
as hard a time in getting that help as would a sinner getting into
heaven. It was impossible.
But I heard that things have changed. Could you please send me
information on those positive changes? I want to know how many
projects you have supported or helped along or responded to in a
positive manner. What are the results? Is this possible?
Ms. Brigitte Hohn: I will ask David if he has any figures. Do
you have any statistics on the projects we have already carried
out? It may not be possible.
Mr. David Dallimore (Director, Information Highway
Applications (Planning, Analysis and Public Affairs), Regional
Ontario Office, Industry Canada): Could we get those figures to you
after the meeting?
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: Of course.
Mr. David Dallimore: Yes.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: You see, we're talking
about article 41.
Mr. David Dallimore: Yes.
Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier: Article 41 says
promotion, development. So I'm asking you, what have you
done to promote? The only way I can get that answer
is to ask you how many projects. Do you understand?
Mr. David Dallimore: Yes.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser (De Lorimier, Lib.): Allow me to
say that I am starting to get a little tired of hearing people
insinuate that Anglo-Quebeckers are Canada's spoiled children. I
don't know how many people in this room know, for instance, that
Minister Louise Beaudoin wants to abolish the bilingual status of
some municipalities which lie at the very heart of the anglophone
communities in Quebec. She wants to merge these municipalities with
the City of Montreal and forbidden them from retaining their
bilingual status. No one outside of Quebec and very few people
within the province, except for anglophones, have raised a word in
Monsieur Gladu, at the end of your testimony you
referred to a report that you had just received from
English Quebec groups outlining their concerns and
their needs. I know it takes a long time for
bureaucracies to digest reports of this nature, but
could you give us a little more information
about what that report said and what we can look for
in the way of a response, particularly in the way of a
Mr. André Gladu: I have to honestly admit that I cannot
specifically answer your question. I think you'll understand why.
First, it is important to explain the context in which the report
was written. Precisely two years ago, in May 1998, Human Resources
Development Canada signed an agreement with the eight main
organizations representing anglophone communities in Quebec to help
people become more employable. At that point, the possibility was
raised to sign a future agreement which could also include other
federal departments, such as those in charge of economic
development, like Industry Canada, or the agency I represent, or
So anglophone communities decided to go one step further with
the agreement and to study and assess their needs, as broken down
by region. The assessment was only released last week. I myself
received a copy of the report over the weekend. To be honest, I did
not read it. I can only tell you what the next stages will be. Each
department, in co-operation with Human Resources Development, which
co-chairs a committee with anglophone communities, will study the
report and decide how to proceed.
There is no doubt that it is possible—and I insist on the
word “possible”, since it will also depend on the willingness of
anglophone communities—that there might be an agreement similar to
the one signed in the rest of Canada by francophones living outside
Quebec. Unless I am mistaken, nine federal departments which
concern themselves with issues relating to francophone communities
outside Quebec are party to the agreement.
So I was alluding to this type of study or analysis. But to be
perfectly honest, I haven't read it yet.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: Would it be possible
for the committee to receive a copy of this report?
Mr. André Gladu: There is absolutely no problem
there. It will be my pleasure.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: As soon as possible.
And as soon as there is an official response to it,
could we receive a copy of that as well, Chair?
Perhaps, you could then come back and speak with us more
Mr. André Gladu: Fine. That's no problem.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much,
Back to Mr. Plamondon.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Mr. Chairman, I was surprised to hear the
Senator's first sentence. Make no mistake about it: her remarks
were specifically intended for me.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: I wasn't only targeting you,
Mr. Louis Plamondon: She was not only targeting me. Believe
me, Madame Senator, it is possible to compare the rights of
anglophones living in Quebec and those of francophones. There are
some francophones in our party, in both the Senate and in the House
of Commons, who don't come from Quebec, and can assure you that if
they had only 10% of the rights held by anglophones in Quebec, they
would be in heaven.
That is their objective. Some of my friends are anglophones
and live in Quebec. I live in Quebec and have anglophone friends.
However, my anglophone friends would make it quite clear that there
is no comparing their rights with those of francophones living
outside Quebec. We Quebeckers are proud of that fact. We are proud
to give those rights to our minority. However, I in no way want
what I am saying to be construed as saying that I want to take
those rights away or that I am against them. Never!
The reason I am focussing on anglophone rights in Quebec is so
that the francophone minority may one day do as well. That is all
I am saying. If you want a debate on bilingual or non-bilingual
communities, then let us use Ottawa, Canada's capital, as a
starting point. It will not even have bilingual status. Only then
should we discuss Montreal's West Island—and you might learn
things which will make your hair stand on end.
Let me now address my remarks to you, Mr. Minister. You
explained your bilingual ideal a little earlier. Ms. Copps is a
proponent of the idea—and you have championed it recently—that
the Official Languages Act be used to help more people in Canada
But that is not the spirit of the Official Languages Act. The
spirit of the Act is institutional bilingualism giving access to
both founding peoples, to both minorities and both majorities, to
government services in the language of their choice. Bilingual
Canadians?—so much the better. One of my daughters speaks five
languages and another speaks three. Good for them. I would like
them to learn even more. But that is not the issue.
When you analyze the situation and say that schooling and
economic services have improved and you say that in addition, there
are more bilingual people, you are forgetting an important factor.
In your province, according to Statistics Canada the assimilation
rate is 60%. It is 72% in British Columbia. In New Brunswick, as
Senator Robichaud is well aware, there has been a 1% drop in
francophones. In Quebec, the anglophone minority is maintaining
itself. According to the most recent Statistics Canada report,
analyses were conducted and in Quebec there is no assimilation. So
where is the problem? The problem lies with that of the francophone
More of an effort must be made and more funding provided,
while preserving the rights of anglophones in Quebec and the
services available to them, of course. That is the reality that you
are refusing to analyze. I mentioned it to Ms. Copps last time and
now I am telling you: you are refusing to face the situation. I
told Ms. Copps that the assimilation rate for francophones in her
riding was 80%.
We are inevitably moving towards a virtual elimination of
francophones in Canada. Look at Montreal. At present, 48% of
residents in Montreal are not francophones. And Montreal is in
Quebec. Three percent of the people in North America are
francophone. We will have to do a lot more than just make sweeping
statements in order to maintain both cultures and both languages.
Otherwise these are empty words that do not describe Canadian
reality at all.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: Mr. Chairman, I simply want to tell my
colleague that he is assuming that I have not understood. When I
talked about other Canadians who have learned the language, I was
not necessarily referring to that phenomena, which I find very
interesting and important, in keeping with sections 41 and 42. It
arose out of interest, if you will.
I understand that the Act is in place to provide services to
francophone and anglophone minorities, but in the discussion, I was
simply recognizing that such people existed. Many of them, in
passing, are seeking out services in French. They want to listen to
the radio in French, watch TV, etc. That is what I was
As regards assimilation, you are not unaware that it happens
everywhere, in all minorities. We have been hearing for a long time
that we are going to disappear. Sir, we are not disappearing. We
will never give up. There will always be francophones in the West.
They will always be there. There might be fewer of them, and I
agree with you on that. I rarely agree with you, but I do agree
with you on that. Yes, it is true that there are a lot of things to
do. Yes, it is true that we will have to get better at doing what
we do. Yes, it is true that it is undoubtedly important to spend
more to do more. I agree. But all of a sudden, because there has
been a lot of assimilation, am I going to abandon my own family? Am
I simply going to say: No, the Act exists; why should we do
anything? On the contrary, I am going to do more with what I have.
When we talk about linguistic rights, I do not know where we
are going when we draw comparisons. As you know, it is not like
stepping on a scale and saying: You weigh 202.2 lbs and I weigh
212.1. That can be compared quite easily.
Why don't we simply say that there are important rights that
are granted to certain minorities in various provinces? Can we not
do the same for everyone? Why can't we learn from what others are
I will conclude with an example, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Gauthier asked me an excellent question. Perhaps I
misunderstood it somewhat, but when he asked me if we had made any
progress, I told him that we were making progress and that I was
going to give him some examples.
I took up my position two and a half years ago. My officials
and I set up economic and community development units. We have
roughly 30 officers who are working on trying to determine what
could be undertaken in French.
For example, we have projects involving francophones from out
West who go to work in Cameroun and Mali in the area of education.
That happened quite recently. That is progress. Then there is the
agreement with nine departments that Mr. Gladu mentioned earlier.
We have others with the provinces and in some cases with
Am I describing something abstract? No. I am trying to tell
you what we are doing. I am trying to help you understand,
colleagues, that not everything is perfect, but goodness knows that
we are making progress and that we are going to continue to do so.
I would like to conclude by saying that we should try to learn from
each other, but not in a conflictual environment. Instead, we need
to ask ourselves what is happening elsewhere, look at what we can
borrow, build or construct. That is what you do when you build a
country. You learn. You look at what is working well and you do
more. That is what I want to do.
I am not at all interested in comparisons. Those are political
debates, and everyone knows it. People push their point of view
instead of someone else's. Lets try and look at what we can do
together for the people we represent. I am the member for Saint-Boniface,
in Manitoba, but I am also a member at the service of all
Canadians, like you, dear colleagues.
So let us try to work together for the entire country, by
trying to improve people's lot, be it in terms of linguistic rights
or economic development.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Mr. Plamondon, have
Mr. Louis Plamondon: We could turn this into a debate. The
debate is not political. He told me that comparisons are political.
I can compare. When I compared the situation of two minorities, I
note that one needs more help than the other, and I think that in
our spending, we should make the minority that needs more help,
that is more in danger, a priority. We will never disappear as
individuals, but the danger does exist for society, for collective
life, for the arts and for social life. That point is being made.
It was brought up again recently during the debate on the Montfort
Hospital, which is not over.
If we compare francophone hospitals outside Quebec to
anglophone hospitals in Montreal, we would see that there are two
anglophone hospitals in Montreal. There are also three anglophone
universities in Montreal. That is wonderful and must continue.
There is McGill, Loyola...
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: McGill and Concordia, that makes
Mr. Louis Plamondon: And Loyola.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: It is part of Concordia.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Say there are two, if you want. How many
are there in Ontario?
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: There are several anglophone universities.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: How many francophone universities are
there in Ontario? The context is also different, of course. It
should stay like that, but we do nevertheless need to compare the
situation by looking at what minority we are talking about. That is
always the problem here. Each time that the Commissioner of
Official Languages meets with us or that a minister appears before
us, all is well. They pat themselves on the back and say they are
making progress, but we have not changed our way of analyzing the
situation in Canada. If we sincerely want the two languages and two
cultures to develop, we have to admit that there is a problem. Only
3% of the population in North America is francophone. It is in a
bit more difficulty than the anglophone minority in Quebec. I will
never believe the opposite.
So let us orient our polices and spend our money accordingly.
That does not mean cutting spending for the other minority. That
does not mean that it should no longer receive any money. I think
that the group dynamics are completely different in both cases, and
it is in that sense that I am worrying. I do not think I am being
alarmist, but instead realistic when I say that there is a problem
and that there is a bad perception on the part of the federal
You are right in saying that the minority is also experiencing
some fatigue. That is a phenomenon associated with assimilation.
Someone was even criticizing the dynamic minority in New
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Mr. Plamondon, I must
stop you there.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Can I finish my sentence?
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Okay.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: The dynamic minority in New Brunswick has
led battles over French. Senator Robichaud was involved. A
university professor in New Brunswick whose name has slipped my
mind wrote, in a book that I read, that the province's elite,
believing that everything had been resolved, had abandoned the
battle when the province was made officially bilingual, whereas the
battle should have continued. I was surprised when I read his book.
So the battle must be ongoing, but at the same time, the government
must spend money in the right areas, and that is the sense of my
comments. I think we share the same principle.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you, Mr.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Thank you.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Senator Robichaud,
you have the floor.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: Get mad at me now, Senator, it is your
Senator Louis-J. Robichaud (L'Acadie—Acadia, Lib.): I do not
like it when the discussions at the Official Languages Committee
degenerate into a political debate that pit anglophones against
francophones. I do not like that.
We live as a community. That is how we were born, and that is
how we will die. And it will last for centuries. We are going to
live side by side and we should do so in a harmonious way, as
I have expressed some pessimism with respect to francophone
minorities outside New Brunswick, in the Atlantic provinces,
Ontario and perhaps even in Manitoba, but I get more and more
optimistic when I hear statements like those the Minister has made
this afternoon. I have been listening to him for several years, and
he has not changed. I am impressed. If there were more people like
Mr. Duhamel in the country, there would be a lot more cordiality
I was also impressed with the statements the others made, and
I am much more optimistic with respect to the future of the country
and bilingualism in Canada than I was a few weeks ago, as a result
of what I have heard this afternoon. I congratulate the Minister
and his acolytes.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much,
Senator. Would you like to reply?
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank
Senator Robichaud. Senator, thank you. You are very generous and I
obviously greatly appreciate that. It is too bad that Mr. Plamondon
has left, because I wanted to tell him that I do not pat myself on
Mr. Louis Plamondon: No, not at all, I am back.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: Oh! He is here, he is here. I was trying
to tell him what I see.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: I came back, because I realize that if I
were to leave, there would be no one left from the opposition and
the committee would have to stop sitting. I came to tell the
chairman that I am going to stay so that we can listen to you.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: I simply wanted to tell him that I am not
patting myself on the back. Senator Simard has sent some
compliments my way. I was trying to describe the reality as I saw
I am also encouraged with the possibility of doing more work
together. I said that comparisons were unhealthy. Do you know why
this is the case? Is the Faculté Saint-Jean a university in
Edmonton or not? The Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface is
linked to the University of Manitoba and they are very proud of
that. Mr. Plamondon, if you go to Saint-Boniface and say that there
is not a French-language university, be careful, because even I
could not save you.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: There is also the University of Ottawa,
Laurentian University and the University of Moncton. We are up to
five. Are they better than the two or three English-language
universities in Quebec?
I think that can sometimes prevent us from making progress. It
is good to speak honestly, without criticizing or taking the
occasional stab at each other, to see how we can improve the lot of
these linguistic communities. That is what I want to see here. It
is not complicated.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: We must take a look at ourselves to see
how we are as francophones and how we can improve. That is what I
was questioning. What are you doing in that area? You addressed
that in part.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: I will have to come and see you and have
a talk with you.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: We will have to meet often.
Mr. Ronald Duhamel: I am under the impression that you are
having some trouble understanding today. But that's okay; I will
repeat myself a second, third, fourth or even a fifth time if
necessary. For you, I will even repeat myself seven to ten times.
Mr. Louis Plamondon: And I will do the same.
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Thank you very much,
Before wrapping up, I have a request for Ms. Paquette. Several
members of the committee, including Senator Gauthier, have asked
for examples of specific projects, be it at Industry Canada, or one
of the various agencies, that have helped promote the second
I know that in my riding, FedNor is currently financing a
project for a francophone economic chamber for the Tri-Town region.
Other projects of that nature have specifically been funded by
FedNor not only to help our francophone communities flourish, but
also assist in economic development.
I would like to ask Ms. Paquette to send us a list of these
projects, not necessarily today, but to our committee clerk. We
could distribute the list to committee members, who would be in a
position to note that what Ms. Hohn has committed to do for
southern Ontario is also being done.
Ms. Louise Paquette: Yes.
Senator Joan Thorne Fraser: And for anglophones in Quebec as
The Vice-Joint Chair (Mr. Benoît Serré): Okay. I want to thank
our guests. This has been an excellent meeting. See you next time.
The meeting is adjourned.