Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Francophones Outside Quebec—Protection of Rights”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (24 November 1981)

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Date: 1981-11-24
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 13159.
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COMMONS DEBATES — November 24, 1981



[Page 13159]

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary to the question asked by the hon. member for Jonquiere, also directed to the Minister of Justice. If I understand correctly, the minister said that the constitutional debate does not end now and that new developments will be possible at a future stage. I should like the Minister of Justice to explain two things to me and to the Canadian people. First, how can he guarantee the Canadian duality to which he refers, and second, with the proposed amending formula which requires the consent of seven provinces and 50 per cent of the Canadian population, how can he explain to francophones outside Quebec that at the present time, three provinces will guarantee the rights of francophone Canadians across Canada, but that in seven provinces they will be restricted as to their legal and legislative rights?

Hon. Jean Chrétien (Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development): The answer is very simple, Madam Speaker. First of all, to everyone’s surprise, the nine English-speaking provinces agreed to protect the education rights of francophones outside Quebec, which is a tremendous achievement and one which has given me great cause for rejoicing. There is still the matter of the courts and the proceedings in the legislatures. The Constitution of 1867 already provides for the use of both languages in the courts and legislatures in two cases, and this year we have made some progress because the government of New Brunswick has committed itself even further under Section 133, which provides francophones with better guarantees than those enjoyed by anglophones in Quebec. I do agree that it is unfortunate that Ontario has not decided to make French one of the languages used in the courts and in the Ontario legislature. However, in our charter and in our constitutional resolution, we have provided for a mechanism that will enable the provinces to make such changes through bilateral agreements, and I would ask the provinces to consider such action as soon as possible. In any case, we have made considerable progress by entrenching in the Constitution, here and now, that the Parliament of Canada and federal institutions shall always be bilingual.

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