March 2, 1927

CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

It is my

misfortune that I did not hear all that the hon. gentleman said, but following out the thought that he has just expressed, will he apply the same principle to the members of this House?

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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LIB

Jean-Joseph Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Joliette):

My hon. friend

was not in the House when I said that I applied it to civil servants and not to members of the House.

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

Why draw

the line?

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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LIB

Jean-Joseph Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Joliette):

Because the civil

servants are working in the public interest.

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

That is a

serious reflection on hon. members.

Mr. CHARLES B. HOWARD (Sherbrooke) : Permit me to say a few words on

the proposed resolution which has been placed on the order paper by the hon. member for L'Assomption-Mont-calm (Mr. Seguin); first, because last session I had a similar resolution in mind but did not proceed with it, because of the extraordinary session we went through, and I did not want to add to the troubles which we already had and secondly, because I believe that in the best interests of Canada as a whole parliament should adopt this resolution.

I am pleased to follow the proposer of this resolution who with that ease of diction which the French language permits advanced arguments in favour of the adoption of his motion; I have to content myself with the use of the concise English tongue, which we usually regard as the language of business. Canada is recognized the world over as a bilingual country. This government, of which I have the honour to be a supporter, realized that fact only recently when it sent to the Imperial conference not only the Prime Minister but the hon. Minister of Justice whom the entire Dominion is proud to honour. The business and the financial world recognizes the superiority of bilingual employees. I know that one of our cabinet ministers is having his sons educated in .both languages; in

fact they can already speak in either medium so fluently that it is impossible to tell from which race they trace their descent. The county of Sherbrooke also recognizes bilingualism to a great extent. Its electors send me to represent them in this parliament, and a French-Canadian to represent them in the provincial legislature. Furthermore, the city of Sherbrooke elects alternately every two years as mayor an English-Canadian and a French-Canadian, and both are bilingual. Then, Mr. Speaker, how many times do we hear hon. members in this House refer to the great coalition government of Cartier and Macdonald, one of the strongest combinations that has ever governed the Dominion.

When I contemplate the hardships and dangers endured by the pioneers who came to this country from France and from England, Ireland and Scotland, and realize the great nation which they founded on this part of the North American continent, I bow my head in honour to them. What greater heroism do the pages of history contain than the gallant stand of Dollard and his companions who in 1660 saved New France from ruin. We cannot read that heroic episode without a thrill. And we all honour the memory of those brave priests of the Roman Catholic church who risked death, and worse than death, torture, at the hands of the Indians in their zeal to convert them to Christianity. We also honour those equally zealous Protestant preachers, who are now known to us as "horseback preachers" from the fact that they went through the country on horseback-there were no roads in those days-to spread the faith of their forefathers.

It is difficult, Mr. Speaker, to realize that the 50,000 or 60,000 French-Canadians whom France cut loose from in 1759 have in the intervening period, less than a couple of centuries, increased to such an extent that today there are two million of their descendants in the province of Quebec, about one and a half million scattered throughout the sister provinces and nearly two million in the United States. Naturally we think of those hardy ancestors with the very highest respect.

I am pleased to live in the province of Quebec under a school system which recognizes the rights of the minority, where English is taught as the secondary language in the French schools, and where French is taught as the secondary language in the English schools. Sherbrooke is an ideal county, but like every other section sometimes we encounter a few fanatics. I think however, we have the minimum of this class in our county. The other day I was talking to one of them and was astonished by a remark he made, a

816 COMMONS

Civil Service-French Language

remark, by the way, which proves the point I am trying to make. He said, "Charlie, I only wish I could speak French." That is an astounding statement from a person holding extreme views, but it simply goes to prove that bilingualism will be a distinct benefit to the whole Dominion. I remember that in my school days we were required to study, among other languages, German and Spanish. When we questioned the wisdom of this, realizing that we were never going to live either in Germany or Spain, we were told that those languages were included in the curriculum because the study of languages was one of the greatest mind-training agencies in the world. Not only have bilingualists an advantage over those of our people who are not familiar with the two official languages of Canada, but they are better equipped in understanding the other fellow's viewpoint. It is generally admitted that no translation, however true and complete it may be, can ever communicate to you the true feeling in the writer's heart; you can interpret him only by reading his works in the language in which they were written.

A few days ago an hon. member on the other side of the House stated he had been accused of lots of things in his time, but he did not want to be accused of speaking for the province of Quebec. Neither do I want to be accused of speaking for the province of Ontario, but I should like to say in all kindness and sincerity that the sooner the people in Ontario permit the study of French in their schools the sooner will there be a complete realization of the bonne entente spirit in this country. A certain newspaper in Ottawa not long ago gave me a very special advertisement in the form of a long critical editorial. I do not criticise the newspaper for doing so; I do not find any fault with the article nor do I blame anyone for that two-column editorial, but the fact remains that Ottawa is 225 miles away from my county and although I have many newspapers in my district not one of them made any such statements as were made in the Ottawa paper. Every word of that article was an absolute falsehood from beginning to end. No one can justly accuse me of being a fanatic on any particular matter.

Coming to this question of the civil service employees, according to circulars which I have received, they are asking for an increase in wages. I say frankly on the floor of this House that I do not consider myself able to judge whether that increase would be right or wrong, but in considering this increase I think other forms of labour should be taken

*Mr. Howard.]

into consideration as well. If the wages of the civil servants are found to be lower, in proportion, than are those of railway employees, farmers and labourers, the increase should be granted. But there is another point which I would like to deal with. I am absolutely opposed to a maximum salary in the civil service; I do not believe that in a young country such as Canada we should halt ambition and destroy initiative by placing a maximum on the salaries; if a man is worth an increase he should receive it.

In favouring this resolution I would not for one moment desire to work a hardship upon civil servants who were appointed years ago, and whose knowledge may be limited to one language or the other; I would not like to see them penalized, but I am strongly in favour of this resolution as it would affect those entering the service from now on. More than that, if hon. members representing the western provinces and western Ontario object to this resolution there may be some excuse, but I am absolutely convinced of the justice of the proposal as it applies to eastern Ontario, the province of Quebec and the maritime provinces. Our ancestors came from ' two great countries; the business interests of Canada admit that bilingualism is essential to good business; the financial interests recognize the fact that a bilingual employee is superior to one who has not that qualification, so why should not this government take the same stand in connection with civil service employees? I could go on as the hon. member for L'Assomption (Mr. Seguin) suggested, and quote extraordinarily striking cases where absolute injustice has been done through the fact that certain employees are not bilingual, in the province of Quebec and in my own county; but I do not desire to go into specific cases, and I only speak generally in support of the resolution.

There is just another point in passing. The next ten years will be recognized all over the world as Canada's decade. I am not too keen on reducing the national debt; I think that if we take our revenue and spend it in Canada to develop the country, to provide work for the immigrants who will come here during the next ten years and to bring back from the United States our own people who are anxious to come back in view of the present prosperity of Canada, we will be doing a great thing for Canada. Therefore with no further remarks I desire to place myself on record as being in favour of this resolution particularly as it would apply to eastern Ontario, Quebec and the maritime provinces.

Civil Service-French Language

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVID SPENCE (Parkdale):

I do

not intend to take up more than a few moments of the time of the House, because I have only one or two observations to make. I am sorry that I do not understand French and that it was impossible for me to follow the hon. member who introduced this motion.

I do hope, however, that he as well as those who are supporting him will not persist in putting it through. I think hon. members will agree that this will create more or less friction and will cause a great many difficulties, and the mover will be well advised to withdraw the motion. I do not propose to criticize the resolution at all, but we want peace in this House and in Canada.

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

I desire to pass just a few'

remarks with regard to this resolution. Unfortunately I was not able to follow the speech of the hon. member who presented it; I think perhaps some of us who have no knowledge of the French language are penalized very frequently in this House because of our inability to speak that language. It is quite unnecessary, I think, to emphasize the need and value of language training. But whether or not one could follow the speech I think perhaps it is true, as one member has already suggested, that the resolution speaks for itself; and quite irrespective of the argument by which it might be supported we can judge more or less of the merits of the case by the terms of this resolution.

I would express myself as being rather regretful that this resolution has been introduced. The changes proposed are put on the ground of efficiency, but undoubtedly there will be an appeal to prejudice. For that reason I am sorry that any matter that is liable to divide the House and the country should be introduced when there is so slight a probability of it ever coming into effect. Undoubtedly a knowledge o.f the two official languages is in many positions of very great advantage. I should say that in the large majority of the positions in the civil service it must be of very great advantage to have a working knowledge both of English and of French. In other cases it has no particular advantage. Some of us learned a little French *when we were boys, and simply because we had absolutely no opportunity of using that language the little knowledge that we had readily passed from us. There are many sections in this country where a knowledge of French is of practically no advantage whatever. If the matter is put on the basis of efficiency, and as I understand it that is the case for the resolution-that is that it would

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   PREFERENCE TO THOSE WHO HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF BOTH OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
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REVISED


render the public service more efficient- then I would say that in many sections of this country other languages besides French should be given the preference. We have some 300,000 to 350,000 Ukrainians in this country.


PRO
LAB
LIB

Henri-Edgar Lavigueur

Liberal

Mr. LAVIGUEUR:

Do I understand the

hon. gentleman to state that some other languages might be more useful in sections of our country than the French language?

Topic:   REVISED
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LAB
LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I was about to

deal with that point. Perhaps the hon. gentleman has not understood me. I said that some other languages than French as a second language w'ould be of advantage in this country-in some parts of this country if you like. I am equally prepared to say that there may be some sections in this country where the first language would be French and the second language would be some other language than English. There are somewhere between three and four hundred thousand Ukrainians, for instance, in this country, and if the matter is to be placed on the basis of efficiency I can quite readily understand that a great many officials who have to do with that large group of immigrants possibly ought to have a working knowledge of the Ukrainian language.

Topic:   REVISED
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

The Chinese language.

Topic:   REVISED
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There are other

languages in the west besides the Ukrainian. There are the Scandinavian languages, there is the German language. Somebody suggests the Chinese language on the west coast. That is true. If we have to deal with the Chinese we ought to have officials on the west coast who have a thorough knowledge of both English and Chinese. I will go so far even with regard to an oriental language.

Topic:   REVISED
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LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

If it were a case

of an official in the Immigration department I should say that certainly it would be an advantage to have a knowledge of Yiddish. But the point I want to make in this connection, Mr. Speaker, is simply this: That unEDITION

Civil Service,-French Language

doubtedly the language qualification is an advantage in certain positions and those who have a knowledge of the second language ought to receive the preference in the making of an appointment. Some appointments, perhaps, ought not to be made unless the man had a knowledge of two languages. But I do not like the introduction of a principle which will always give the preference to the man with a knowledge of the two languages and afford him a large remuneration. I do not think that the introduction of that principle will tend to the furtherance of good will among the very many peoples that constitute the population of Canada to-day, and I would say that it would have to be put on an altogether different basis than that of mere efficiency. We have, for example, the case of the Speaker, who has been reelected on several occasions because of his knowledge of both the English and the French languages. I personally approve of that choice. I think it is no small advantage to have in the chair here a man who speaks both English and French, and I for one will be quite glad to accord that exalted position to the one who is best qualified to fill it. I understand that something like eighty per cent of the pages in this House are French bilinguists. I do not object to that because I presume it is an advantage that a page should be able to speak, whenever a member calls him, in whatever language that member may employ. That is all right because there you have a question of efficiency well founded and those who obtained the preference obtained it by reason of that fact. That is one of the inevitable advantages of the one who speaks two languages under the conditions that exist in Ottawa. But in other parts of Canada where conditions do not prevail that may prevail here or in the province of Quebec-[DOT] from which the three hon. members opposite who spoke in succession on this question come-but other conditions entirely, then I say it would be very foolish indeed of us to adopt a principle which, while possibly related to certain historical privileges, would not tend to efficiency and might do far more harm than good.

Topic:   REVISED
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?

Mr. S@

It is not a privilege, it is a right.

Topic:   REVISED
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March 2, 1927