LANG – Committee & Appearance Overview – December 6, 2022

About The Committee

Mandate

The Standing Committee on Official Languages (LANG) studies matters related to Canada’s official languages.

The Committee has oversight of Heritage Canada and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. However, they oversee many departments and agencies given the Government’s commitment to bilingualism.

Studies

The Committee started the session with their study on Government Measures to Protect and Promote French in Quebec and in Canada.

Legislation

On March 1, 2022, the Government introduced Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

This legislation is a reintroduction of Bill C-32, an Act for the Substantive Equality of French and English and the Strengthening of the Official Languages Act, which was introduced in the 43rd Parliament but did not receive Royal Assent.

The bill was intended to promote substantive equality between French and English, and to take into account the evolution of Canadian society since the initial adoption of the Official Languages Act in order to make it more relevant in the modern context.

Appearance Background

Background

The Standing Committee on Official Languages (LANG) adopted a motion on May 30, 2022, to invite the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to appear before committee on the topic of Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

It is recommended that the following officials appear to support the Minister:

It is anticipated that appearing officials will be invited to deliver a five-minute opening statement, followed by rounds of questioning from Committee members. Issue notes and key messages will be developed by the Department to support officials in addressing concerns from all parties.

Environmental Scan

Key topics and possible lines of questioning include:

Committee Membership

René Arsenault (Madawaska—Restigouche), Chair

Joel Godin (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier)
Official Opposition Shadow Minister for Official Languages, Vice-Chair

Mario Beaulieu (La Pointe-de-l'Île) Vice-Chair

Brad Vis (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)

Niki Ashton (Churchill—Keewatinook Aski)

Francis Drouin (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell)

Bernard Généreux (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup)

Angelo Iacono (Alfred-Pellan)

Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge)

Marc G. Serré (Nickel Belt)

Patricia Lattanzio (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel)

Arielle Kayabaga (London West, ON)

There are no recent correspondence items received from Committee members on the topic of Bill C-13 or Francophone immigration

Conservative Party Of Canada

Top Party Issues

The Conservative Party of Canada encourages the Government to continue working with the provinces and territories to enhance opportunities for Canadians to learn and use both official languages.

The party has voiced concerns over the allegations of racism and discrimination at IRCC, including against Francophone immigrants.

LANG Members

Joël Godin
Official Opposition Shadow Minister for Official Languages, Vice-Chair (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC)

Topics Of Interest

Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge)

Brad Vis (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)

Bernard Généreux (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup)

Other Active Members

Kyle Seeback
(Dufferin—Caledon, ON), Vice-Chair of CIMM

Rosemarie Falk
(Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK), CIMM member

Brad Redekopp
(Saskatoon West, SK), CIMM member

Recent Party Activity

Nov 24 – Oral Questions: Accused the government of “blocking” francophone immigration in the context of Bill C-13 (Godin).

Oct 20 – LANG: Alleged the government does not treat Francophone and Anglophone immigrants equally (Godin).

Oct 18 – LANG: Proposed amending Bill C-13 to encourage more Francophone immigration to Western Canada (Gourde).

Sep 26 – Debates: Argued at Second Reading of Bill C-238 that the French language is in decline in Canada, and pointed to Bill C-13 and intergovernmental cooperation between Quebec and Canada on immigration as a potential remedy (Deltell).

Sep 26 – Debates: Remarked that the French language is in decline, but pointed to Bill C-13 as a positive opportunity to change things for the better (Généreux).

May 12 – Debates: Criticized clause 44.1 of Bill C-13, alleging that “there is no obligation to ensure that targets, objectives and indicators” on Francophone immigration are met (Berthold).

May 12 – Debates: Alleged that the government continues to miss its Francophone immigration targets and contended that commitments to francophone immigration in Bill C-13 lack specifics, and that broader systemic issues at IRCC are impacting Francophone immigration (Genuis).

New Democratic Party

Top Party Issues

The NDP propose working with the provinces and territories to improve minority language education and attract more French-speaking immigrants to communities across Canada.

They have been less vocal about Francophone immigration but link to issues regarding racism and discrimination within IRCC.

The party also calls for the appointment of an immigration Ombudsperson to provide independent oversight over IRCC in response to reports of security breaches and racism within the Department.

LANG Member

Niki Ashton
(Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB)
Longstanding Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; recently appointed as Critic for Housing

Topics Of Interest

Other Active Members

Blake Desjarlais
(Edmonton Griesbach, AB)
Deputy Critic Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Critic Diversity and inclusion; Deputy Critic 2SLGBTQI+ rights

Recent Party Activity

Oct 20 – LANG: Pointed to IRCC 2019 permanent resident admission numbers and alleged a disparity exists between Anglophone and Francophone source countries, alleged the government systemically denies African Francophone applications (Ashton).

Oct 4 – LANG: Argued Bill C-13 does “not go far enough” on Francophone immigration targets and should include a “catch up clause” (Ashton).

May 20 – Debates: Argued that Francophone communities outside Quebec have been waiting for modernization of the Official Languages Act for 30 years, and pointed to Bill C-13 as having a critical role in Francophone immigration (Boulerice).

May 12 – Debates: Characterized Minister Sean Fraser as unilingual, pointed to missed Francophone immigration targets, and argued that Bill C-13 needs amendments to address such issues (Ashton).

May 12 – Debates: Contended that Bill C-13 “talks about setting objectives, targets and indicators. There is no catch-up target and no clearly stated objective. Francophone communities outside of Quebec have been let down for a couple of decades” (MacGregor).

Feb 16 – Debate on Bill C-11: noted that Francophone communities outside Quebec receive little coverage from Radio-Canada (Boulerice)

Bloc Québécois

Top Party Issues

Given that Quebec’s interests and the protection of the French language are at the forefront of party interventions, Francophone immigration is a primary interest.

The party has been accusing IRCC of systemic discrimination in regards to the high rejection rate of international students from African countries.

The BQ supports the appointment of an IRCC Ombudsman to oversee departmental decision-making.

LANG Member

Mario Beaulieu
(La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC)
Critic for Official Languages

Topics Of Interest

Other Active Members

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe
(Lac-Saint-Jean)
Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Human Rights; Second Vice-Chair of CIMM; Vice-Chair of AFGH

Christine Normandin
(Saint-Jean, QC)
Former Critic Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; BQ Deputy House Leader

Yves-François Blanchet
(Beloeil-Chambly, QC)
BQ Party Leader

Recent Party Activity

Nov 3 – Oral Questions: Accused the government of shutting down committee debate on Bill C-13 to expedite its passage into law (Beaulieu).

Oct 18 – LANG: Suggested focusing Francophone immigration efforts on regions that already have a “critical mass” of Francophones (Beaulieu).

May 12 – Debates: Pointed to missing Francophone immigration targets and to high African Francophone student acceptance rates, argued Bill C-13 “does not seem to resolve this problem,” proposed that the legislation “include binding targets and an obligation to produce results” (Beaulieu).

May 12 – Debates: Alleged during debate on Bill C-13 that the federal government is not promoting Francophone immigration to Quebec, and pointed to a “huge backlog” of African Francophone immigrants (Trudel).

Mar 1 – Debates: Took issue with the suggestion that Bill C-13 would increase Francophone immigration to Canada (Therrien).

Feb 28 – Debates: Alleged that IRCC is discriminating against Francophone international students (Beaulieu).

Feb 28 – LANG: Claimed to have experienced racism through IRCC Montréal offices hiring unilingual (EN) positions (Beaulieu).

Feb 23 – QUB radio: Suggested Francophones were discriminated against through Canadian immigration practices (Brunelle-Duceppe).

Feb 19 – Twitter: Retweeted a Tweet alleging that CÉGEP régional de Lanaudière has experienced a high refusal rates of French-speaking international students because of IRCC policy (Brunelle-Duceppe).

Liberal Party Of Canada

Top Party Issues

The Liberal Party of Canada aims to support the future of the French language in Canada by implementing measures outlined in the White Paper, English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada.

They promise to increase funding for post-secondary institutions in official language minority communities and support the vitality of the French language in minority communities.

On French immersion and French second-language programs, they plan to improve funding and access.

CIMM Members

Marc G. Serré
(Nickel Belt, ON)
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Official Languages

René Arsenault
(Madawaska—Restigouche, MB)
Chair

Francis Drouin
(Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON)

Angelo Iacono
(Alfred-Pellan, QC)

Patricia Lattanzio
(Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC)

Arielle Kayabaga
(London West, ON)

Recent Party Activity

May 13 – Debates: Contended that francophone immigration is important for Quebec and for French communities outside Quebec; argued that Bill C-13 would “fill in the gaps” (Samson).

May 12 – Debates: Argued in the context of Bill C-13 that the government is committed to “increasing immigration, and to helping maintain and support a flourishing official language community both in Quebec for English minority communities, and throughout the rest of the country for francophones” (Aldag).

May 12 – Debates: Remarked that Bill C-13 alone would not be sufficient to remedy missed francophone immigration targets, and that broader administrative measures would be necessary (Kayabaga).

Mar 3 – CIMM: Expressed interest in the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot and asked what proportion were Francophone (Kayabaga).

Feb 17 – CIMM: Asked the Minister if racism was at play in the rejection rates of Francophone African students (Kayabaga).

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