Question Period: Efforts to Make the Constitution Bilingual

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. In 1982, the country’s francophones were promised that Canada would finally have a fully bilingual Constitution. In December 1990, the translation of the text was tabled in the Senate and in the House of Commons. Today, more than 30 years later, that text is still not officially part of the Constitution.

On March 29, 2022, this chamber unanimously adopted a motion calling on the government to amend Bill C-13 to add an obligation for the government to report annually on the efforts made to fulfill the promise that was made to francophones in 1982. Could you, as the Government Representative in the Senate, tell us what steps you have taken with the government to follow up on this motion? I would also like to know what results have been achieved so far.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question, honourable senator. Respect for both official languages is always a concern for the government, because Canadians deserve to have access to Canada’s constitutional texts in English and in French. The Minister of Justice is aware of the motion adopted by the Senate and of the senator’s interest in this issue in particular. I have been assured that the government will closely examine this issue, as it has for other matters pertaining to official languages and for Bill C-13. I will keep the Senate informed of any developments.

Senator Dalphond: Could the government demonstrate its responsiveness to this matter with concrete action? Do we need to conduct a pre-study to repeat once again that the chamber has asked that Bill C-13 be amended so that it is finally amended or that we are told it will be amended?

(1450)

Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. I hope that, by the end of the day, if the Senate authorizes the pre-study, the committee will be able to start studying this issue and all other issues related to this bill.

 

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