Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Official Languages”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (23 April 1981)

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Date: 1981-04-23
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 9430.
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Mr. Bill Clarke (Vancouver Quadra): Madam Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. In his annual report, the Commissioner of Official Languages states, and I would like to quote these two sentences:

-it is clear that in staking so much time and effort on the constitutional card, the Government not only produced a negative reaction in some quarters but effectively missed out on other opportunities for advancing minority rights. Indeed rather than using the occasion to lead by example and to work with the provinces to improve programs and services vital to the minorities, the federal government may have succeeded instead in diverting attention from much needed reforms.

My question is as follows: could the Prime Minister tell the House what he intends to do about the disturbing failures which the Commissioner of Official Languages pointed out in his report?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I think that could be discussed in the appropriate committee, and i understand that our House Leader will move, on motions, that the report be referred to that committee. There are many things to be said about the report, and they will be said before the committee. But for the time being I find it surprising that hon. members should ask us our position with regard to this charge that we have not done enough to protect minorities. The charter contains all kinds of provisions to protect language minorities, to name only those. But I am happy to state now that, with the consent of the opposition, the next step could be to try to get Ontario to comply with section 133. I do hope that we will have unanimity in the House when the time comes to press for that.

Mr. Clarke: Madam Speaker, i am a member of the committee to which the Prime Minister referred. Does the Prime Minister intend to shelve this report next to the Pepin-Robarts Commission report?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, I am very happy to see this renewed interest on the opposition’s part in discussing matters related to the Official Languages Act. As I just said, in about five minutes we will move that this report be referred to the joint committee. I am delighted to know ahead of time that we can count on the active and positive co-operation of the official opposition with a view to improving the official languages situation in this country.

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