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Inquiry why Report Tabled in House Not Available in Both Official Languages - Commons Debates


Mr. Serge Joyal (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege following the labiling in the House yesterday afternoon by yourself of an interim report by the Auditor General of Canada on the management of the administrative and financial services of the House. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that report was tabled only in English, contrary to section 3 of the Canadian Official Languages Act which states clearly, and I quote:

3. subject to this Act, all instruments in writing directed to or intended for the notice of the public, purporting to be made or issued by or under the authority of the Parliament or Government of Canada or any judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body or Crown corporation established by or pursuant to an Act of the Parliament of Canada, shall be promulgated in both official languages.

I am all the more surprised, Mr. Speaker, that you tabled that report only in English, because for at least five consecutive years the Commissioner of Official Languages has pointed out the difficulty or faults in certain services of Parliament, the Senate or institutions as a whole to which members have access. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that in the context of a renewed federalism, the Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) said earlier today in answer to questions in the House-

-he wants leadership by action and not by words

He went on to say;

"I want to remove irritants"

Those are iritants, Mr. Speaker. When members of this House receive a document in only one of the two official languages, they have every reason to complain that after the Official Languages Act has been in effect for 11 years, there is still some way to go. It is not only a matter of making speeches, but of taking action, and I deplore that the President of the Privy Council who spoke following the tabling of that report did not refuse to have it tabled. He sits on the Government side and it is his strict responsibility to make sure the spirit and the letter of the Official Languages Act are obeyed with respect to documents tabled in this House.

Consequently, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask you that in the future reports, documents and letters be tabled in the House in both languages and that an order be made for the parlaimentary committees to follow exactly the same procedure.

Last week, in the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates, the Comptroller General of Canada, Mr. Rogers, who was appearing as witness, tabled a brief in english only. Why should it be that documents are always tabled in English and not the other way around? I would have risen also had that report been tabled in french only. I feel that when all parties in the House support the one policy and the same objectives, it is the duty of the Chair to see that they are respected.