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Reform of the Official Languages ​​Act | The Bloc obtains an emergency meeting



(Ottawa) The Bloc Québécois will force, with the support of members of the Conservative Party of Canada, the holding of an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages ​​in order to extend the study of the bill which reform the Official Languages ​​Actlearned The Canadian Press.

“As of today, the Committee has adopted only 20 of the 71 clauses that make up Bill C-13 and there is only one and a half meeting, or 3 hours, left to study and adopt the remaining 51 clauses” , write the bloquiste Mario Beaulieu as well as the conservatives Joël Godin, Bernard Généreux and Marc Dalton in their letter sent Thursday to the chairman of the committee.

Their request invokes Rule 106(4) of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons which obliges the chairman of a committee to convene a meeting within five days when he receives a request signed by at least four members of the said committee and those represent at least two different political parties.

According to the signatories, it is “obvious” that the committee will be unable in the current situation to “pay all the necessary attention and the necessary reflection to carry out its mandate judiciously”, especially since the Official Languages ​​Act has not been revised since its adoption 50 years ago.

In an interview, the Bloc Québécois spokesperson for Official Languages, Mario Beaulieu, acknowledged that “we will have to get things done at some point”, but said he had trouble explaining why other members of the committee wanted to “rush things “.

Mr. Beaulieu refused to advance on a number of additional meetings, but affirmed that he minimally wishes that the deputies have a debate on the “sensitive” article 54 which affects private companies under federal jurisdiction. The Bloc intends to introduce an amendment aimed at subjecting them to the Charter of the French language, which should pass thanks to the support of the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP), and despite the opposition of the Liberals.

Mr. Beaulieu indicated that he understood that the emergency meeting could take place as early as Tuesday, immediately before the eighth and currently last meeting scheduled for clause-by-clause study.

Conservative critic for Official Languages, Joël Godin, also refused on Friday to comment on a number of meetings he is targeting. According to him, we must add as many as necessary “to do things well, to ensure that French is protected”.

And to those who might believe that the Conservatives were unable to obtain the signature of Marilyn Gladu, their fourth permanent member of the committee, Mr. Godin replied that the deadlines for action were “very short” and that the settlement does not requires four signatures – not five. “There is no internal conflict with us,” he insisted.

“One or two sessions”

Called upon to respond to the letter from the Bloc and the Conservative Party, NDP Critic for Official Languages, Niki Ashton, indicated that she agreed that “one or two sessions” be added to “catch up wasted time “.

“But we remain committed to getting the bill passed quickly,” she added. Communities have waited long enough. »

In the office of the Minister of Official Languages, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, they refuse to comment on the addition of meetings, contenting themselves with pointing out that “it will be up to the committee to decide”.

“We remain committed to adopting C-13 as soon as possible,” said spokeswoman Marianne Blondin. It has now been a year since we tabled the bill, and stakeholders as well as the Canadian Francophonie as a whole are impatiently awaiting its adoption. »

The “deal”

Two weeks ago, the minister’s parliamentary secretary, Marc Serré, gave an even colder reception to the idea of ​​adding meetings.

“It is not necessary”, he had launched in scrum of press. Mr. Serré had also insisted on the fact that the motion which made it possible to move on to clause-by-clause study “was clear” and provided for “eight meetings”.

Both the Conservative Party and the Bloc have refused to rewrite the agreement. “No,” Mr. Godin insisted in an interview.

“You have to remember that I was asking for 12 sessions, they were offering four and we reached a compromise at eight, he revealed. But we never said that the “deal” was closed. »

The famous motion of 1er December is the agreement reached by members of the committee after a tussle that dragged on for weeks last fall.

They had agreed that consideration of the bill would last eight meetings after which all remaining amendments and clauses “shall be deemed moved, the President shall put to the vote, forthwith and successively, without further debate.” However, the agreement also provides that the study can be extended if that is the wish of a majority of its members.

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